This WIP Interactive Fiction is a character-driven historical fiction set in the late 16th century Joseon Korea during a series of destructive invasions referred to as the Imjin War (1592-1598).
It is not an alternate history; the fictional narrative of this story is weaved into the gaps in historical records of this conflict, where the MC will emerge as an unrecorded and forgotten figure. It also tries to limit the creative liberties taken with recorded events, historical figures, and societal attitudes of this period.
The exception to this rule is the fictional and secretive intelligence apparatus known as the Royal Watch, in which the MC will eventually join and begin their new life as an intelligence officer. The MC will need to quickly learn and adapt to the monumental tasks ahead. No sacrifice shall be considered too great if Joseon is to reverse the war from certain annihilation into victory.
Current Version 1.01.00 - June 7th, 2022
Next Update: Sometime in July
Word Count (v1.01.00)
With code: ~18,780
Without code: ~15,370
Average Playthrough: ~5440
I have not been able to completely meet my goals for this update, making three of the events unavailable until they are ready. It is still early on in the story, where my goal is to establish essential information so that the readers don’t have to be constantly bombarded with history and lore later in the story.
Contents, including Plans
Play as a male or female yangban scion of late 16th century Joseon Korea;
Stand amongst real-life historical figures of Korea and Japan, and become a witness and participant of this conflict;
A warrior, a living shadow, or an artisan of sabotage – overcome challenges and carry out your duties through a variety of skills and combinations;
A single person and a single-minded strategy will not overcome the challenges ahead. Strategize, build relations, and work with your fellow officers of the Royal Watch to help turn the tide of war;
Through deeds and accomplishments, rise through the ranks as an intelligence officer and enter the world of Joseon politics;
Become a key figure forgotten by history.
At this point, I am interested in the following feedback:
Flow of the introduction and character creation - too much exposition already? Difficult to follow?
Stat page - do they look like info dump? Are the skills clear on their own?
The pace and flow of dialogue + suggestions on dialogue choice and personality
Great start! I’ve been looking for something like this, Joseon setting but I couldn’t find any. For me, I like the pacing so far, and well, the skills are understandable until I chose the last option, progenitor, which allows me to customize the skills. I guess I had no idea some of the skills.
The stat page is okay for me, it’s easy to understand. I think it would be helpful if you can explain what the skills are, so we can have an idea on who want to be as part of the character customisation in the game.
I like it so far, would love to see more! The writing flows smoothly and the exposition felt natural, not excessive/feeling like an infodump. The amount of skills is a bit high for me, but since they’re divided into categories they’re not too difficult to grasp. I think the description for each skill is clear, although it may be a bit early to judge because there are no skill tests yet (unless I missed something).
First of all, congrats on the bravery to put out a Joseon-era story. While I think it’s a fascinating era and an equally interesting background for all sorts of IF adventures, there’s a lot of nuance that needs to be considered due to its societal norms.
I like how there’s flavour text when you choose your favourite companion based on your gender, like not being able to express your affinity for Bok-na as a boy or persisting in pursuing higher knowledge despite it not being expected of girls. How far do you think you will take the gender prejudice in the story? I assume it will be much easier to erase a female yangban figure from history.
On stats, the only one that was not very clear to me at first sight was acrobatics. On my first read I thought it was like agility, as in the player’s ability to jump to and land on places with balance. On my second read, I thought it would have something to do with horseback riding, since I couldn’t really imagine the need to jump and land on places as a spy, but that may just be my lacking knowledge. If you’re looking for a replacement, ‘athletics/athleticism’ would be a more recognisable alternative.
The glossary terms and definitions doesn’t have any line breaks between them, so all the text looks clustered together and not very readable. Other than that, it’s fine and understandable.
Also, the transition from a3 to a4 was a bit jarring to me. We’re choosing our stats based on our favourite companions at the shrine, and suddenly we’re looking at mother and hear a woman give birth. Maybe you could put a bolded text at the top of a4 (e.g Three Months Later) or in a page_break to indicate the time that has passed, if any time has passed at all.
Some minor questions:
Loyal’s Legitimisation: I thought yangban children borne from slaves weren’t allowed to be legitimised? Like, although they are of yangban descent, they wouldn’t be able to inherit the title or take the exams. Feel free to correct me.
How old are we in this prologue?
I find it curious that you separate the scenes into individual files – usually people just slap everything into one ‘prologue.txt’. Nothing against it though, you do you.
It’s a fascinating concept, especially since it’s about the Josean era, which we don’t see very often. Given the culture, beliefs, and way of life of the people at the time, I had high expectations. I believe it will be a fantastic and fascinating initiative to keep an eye on.
Thank you everyone for your first comments and some feedback so far, I will definitely keep them in mind for the next update. And I will answer some of the questions.
I am willing to be honest and transparent about this. In the foreseeable future, you will certainly hear about the navy’s victories and see their impact on the overall war effort, but meeting Admiral Yi? No.
This is because of the following:
Admiral Yi and the Joseon Navy were geographically constrained to southern Jeolla and Gyeongsang province - the MC’s journey will take them elsewhere in Joseon Korea.
His diaries, records, the overabundant historical research, and the fact that he pretty much never lost a battle = does the navy even need the MC? They were kicking ass on their own in real life, and they will still be doing that in the story. Their case however was an exception to what was happening in the rest of Joseon, where the MC’s contributions would be much more meaningful.
In the future, I suspect things will need a lot of tweaking in this first chapter beforehand.
Gender prejudice? Only if it fits the character the MC meets and the situation in question. Gender roles and expectations? Definitely, and that creates unique obstacles and opportunities for both male and female MCs. However internally, the Royal Watch will maintain a rather lax standard (for its time) and organizational culture towards women for various reasons, but not because they care.
This is one of those complicated history of Joseon's inheritance and social caste that was near maddening to research:
By Joseon’s State Code established in its early period, you are mostly correct. Around the 1590s? New laws + societal attitudes permitted children of concubines (including those with slave mothers) to take exams (but not the higher tiers of Examinations), inherit land (though they received fewer than “trueborn” children would have, and yes, at this point daughters also inherited land), hold coming-of-age ceremonies, and be registered into clan genealogical records. But the law also established that a concubine’s child inherited her caste (in some periods, the father’s caste was inherited), so it depends on the father’s decision in the end. That doesn’t mean they were not discriminated against, they only just became a dollar-shop version of Yangban with very limited economic and career prospects. Personally, I am still wondering from time to time if there is a better word than “legitimized”, maybe I will find it in the future or not.
It’s a dream sequence sprinkled with memories. The MC’s current age was going to be revealed after where the current demo ended, the math can happen afterward.
Likewise, I wonder how people actually manage to keep track of everything in one file.
I don’t think I can really answer that gamewise yet. Timewise? Until the war concludes, but there is no way I am writing that in one book.
The next update is delayed until later today on June 6th, but for heads up, these are the following changes:
Revised and added lore when choosing the Progenitor as the MC’s inspiration (“Customize Skill” option). Revised some scenes from the dream sequence.
Changed “Acrobatics” to “Athleticism”, reworked “Stealth” into a miscellaneous skill, and added a new core skill as a replacement.
Updated stat page and glossaries. Database is now available, and important events and character logs will be updated as the story progresses.
Average playthrough word count increased by around 3,000. The new scene provides further backstory of MC’s search, introduce important historical events in the story, see skill checks in action, and establish MC’s personality.
Personally, I just don’t like not keeping my promises. Thank you for your interests so far regardless.