You're a peasant kid in a fantasy setting who's blissfully unaware that you're about to experience an unavoidable tragedy. #relatable


I just suddenly got the urge to talk about this.

I really wish this trope wasn’t so hugely prolific. I mean, games aren’t made in a vacuum. I’ve seen this trope played out the same way hundreds of times. I know how it goes. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every use of this trope is bad or that every game that uses it is bad. I’m just saying that it’s extremely common, that generally doesn’t get much variation and it makes me want to skim. I appreciate @Samuel_H_Young kinda just skipping over it in Demon Hunter. You still get to understand your character’s motivation, but without all the time spent on building up of characters you know only exist to die as a motivation for your character to go on an adventure. If you’re going to have this type of “prologue” thing then at least make the characters interesting and relevant as something other than motivation. I think Fatehaven is an example of this done in a tolerable way. Right off the bat it introduces a sympathetic character from outside the village, so you know that at least there’s someone who’s probably not just there to die as motivation. It also made the sidekick character who always has a chance of surviving amusing and interesting enough to keep me going. I think most importantly, your character isn’t a little kid, but nearly an adult, and the story made use of that fact. Having a boring life is relatable, sure, but being relatable isn’t what games are about. That’s just something that helps people understand what’s going on. Also, in an effort to make this trope more relatable than it actually is people also end up making it less interesting than it actually would be if portrayed more accurately. Anyway, anyone else have any thoughts on it?


Yeah, well mine is different because it will be caused by pixies! Coincidentally, why can the protagonist never be a rich kid who loses everything? I can see a lot of potential there. While we’re on this subject in general, what started this trope? Until someone gives me an earlier example, we have Fable to blame.


How about any RPG ever? :stuck_out_tongue:


With character creation and making a plot, having a start like this is basically the easiest in my opinion.


There’s nothing wrong with cutting in at the aftermath. That’s what I did for two of my four starting points for The Hero of Kendrickstone.


You could provide more examples, it would give us something more to discuss. Because I’m struggling to think of any of the Choice of Games/Hosted Games that fulfill your criteria. You say it’s prolific, then use two examples where you say that it doesn’t occur in a way you have problems.

Life of a Wizard?

It’s not just limited to games and there’s a good reason for this.

I can’t really see what the problem is. It makes perfect sense as a beginning for a heroes journey.

Batman. A kid who is blissfully unaware that his parents are about to be murdered before his eyes.
Spiderman. A kid who is blissfully unaware that his Uncle Ben is about to be murdered.

Unless a child is precognitive then of course they’re blissfully unaware of tragedy. Because they’re a child, it stands to reason they have less power and so said tragedy is unavoidable, but generally part of their motivation for becoming a hero is so that they can claim a power of their own and thus prevent future unavoidable tragedies from happening.

It makes sense from a story point of view to start the protagonist as powerless and then follow their journey as they claim their power. Now you can also plunge them into things without an origin story, but then people complain.

Tragedy makes for a great motivation, and who hasn’t experienced tragedy in their lives? And the contrast between the blissful before and the tragic after makes stylistic sense.


@P0RT3R I don’t think how easy it is to write is something most players would or should be thinking about as they play your game. I mean, do you want people saying “Well I don’t really like it, but I can see why he wrote it that way.” or “Wow, that was awesome!”

@Cataphrak Ah yeah, a good point about Hero of Kendrickstone. It’s not quite the whole doomed village thing, but it’s still the losing your not very well fleshed out family convinces you to become an adventurer cliche, so you just sorta said “This is what happened, now go have an adventure!”

@FairyGodfeather I’m not thinking of any particular CoG game, mostly medieval fantasy tropes in general. Superheroes are a totally different genre, and it’s not really what I’m talking about, although you’re making a mistake using Spiderman as an example of the cliche because the whole point of that origin is that he had the power to stop it, but didn’t because he was irresponsible and selfish.

Sure tragedy in general is a great motivation, but I’m not talking about tragedy in general, I’m talking about the specific trope of starting out as some peasant kid in a fantasy medieval village then facing some tragedy that inspires you to go on an adventure so that everyone you knew who wasn’t killed by the tragedy ends up irrelevant to the plot anyway due to being left behind.

I feel like we’re having some kind of disconnect here. I mean, do you not acknowledge that this is a cliche?


If you’re not speaking of games then I suggest moving this thread to a different category. It being in the game development category, on the choice of games forum, it’s natural to assume that you’re specifically speaking of the development of choice/hosted games.

I was drawing comparisons and showing that there are common themes not just limited to the fantasy genre. But fine, if you mean it specifically, then please, provide exact examples of a list of games/movies/books etc that fulfill your criteria. Then we can discuss those instead. You say that it’s hugely prolific, it shouldn’t be a problem for you to make a list.


Sorry, I’m just kind of stunned that you don’t agree that it’s prolific. I don’t really know what to say about that. Here’s the TV tropes page on the trope I guess… Sure there are a lot of other genres on that page, but it’s pretty common in fantasy.


Stop putting words into my mouth. I did not say that. In fact I specfically said

Asking you to provide evidence of your claims is not a statement of disagreement. You wanted to discuss things. You criticised my examples but still continue to provide none of your own.

And you’re still failing to provide examples to give something to discuss. I am perfectly capable of searching TV tropes myself, but since you have a very specific, narrow idea of what this trope involves, I wanted to know which were the examples that you wished to use here.

However, it’s not prolific in Choice of Games. It’s not prolific in Hosted Games.

Your lack of clarity in your original post is not my fault.

@Zane_Hiam At least provides a really good example in mentioning Fable.

This happens too. The Lost Heir, for instance.


The way I see it, there’s nothing inherently wrong with using tropes or clichés. They’re common for a reason as certain story arcs, character types, motivations ect. become popular because they resonate with many people on a deep level.

The reasons for that are diverse and likely specific to the trope or cliché itself (might actually be another topic worth talking about), but the point is they’re popular because they work. But the thing is, clichés and tropes are a tool, and like all tools they can be very effective when used properly in the right circumstance, but can just as easily be misused and cause more harm than good.

It can be easy to rely on tropes to push your story forward quickly, to become stuck in the idea that the really popular ones require less explaination because we’ve all seen them before and we know where they’re heading. It’s tempting as a writer to want to skip over the more “boring” character establishing bits and go straight into the action, and while I’m hesitant to call this method misguided as it can also be quite satisfying when done well, it can also be jarring and leave you with little to no character connection.

In the end, I think it comes down to the way the writer handles themselves. Because if we want to be really pedantic we could point out perhaps the most common cliché of all, the end where good overcomes evil. It’s an endpoint prevalent in so many stories across all types of genres and mediums. But we can point to countless examples where the fact that it was a cliché didn’t make us hate the story at all, in fact we might have ended up hating it if it wasn’t there.

Just because it’s been misused in other stories, doesn’t mean we should outlaw it or disregard it’s storytelling value.


@FairyGodfeather I’m not putting words in your mouth. I’m drawing a conclusion about your beliefs based on the words you put in your own mouth. Instead of discussing the issue you challenge that it exists… If you believe it does exist what’s the point in challenging it? It just derails the conversation. It’s a discussion of pop culture tropes, not science.

@Left4Bed Well, what I’m specifically complaining about are examples of playing the trope straight, but drawing it out for a long time in an attempt to get you to connect with all these doomed characters so you feel worse when they die. I mean, I know the story. I’ve seen it hundreds of times. I can imagine how the character feels. Forcing me to watch/read the same stuff I’ve seen over and over again isn’t giving me anything. You know?


About the only time used it was in Legend, but I slightly changed it up in that in almost all paths you left your little village (bored of “small town” life was the motivation for leaving most of the time), went adventuring in the big city and wilderness for a year, then you come back to visit in the third chapter and have the option of potentially stopping orc raiders who are surrounding the village or just letting them fend for themselves and try to escape through the orc battlelines by yourself.

In one path you even get to organize the orcs in destroying your own village. Lol.


I feel this topic. Relevant: high fantasy is my least favorite genre, Medieval Europe my least favorite part of history. So rather than complaining about those, I’ll talk about the Doomed Home Town, which isn’t specific to either.

The hero at the beginning of their journey is young and maybe not very strong, so we can sympathize with them and watch them grow. Okay, makes sense. The author wants to give them a personal tragedy to motivate their quest and make them relatable; following so far.

Then, their parents are dramatically killed, their village burns down, and someone laughs at them while enslaving their last remaining relative. Drama! …Wait, what? I’m supposed to feel a kinship with them because of their relatable experiences, when this has never happened outside of war zones?

Why must they be an orphan in order to explain being sad and hurt and alone? And why are they no longer acting like a person, and have no psychological trauma from this? “I shall avenge thee!” the Hero cries, never to wake up screaming from a nightmare or develop an irrational aversion to the color their attackers were wearing. They’re never anything except nobly sad and determined. (Except Bruce Wayne. Poor guy is pretty messed up. Him, I feel for!)

If you want to add a relatable tragedy, why not add in something that actually happens to a lot of people in countries like the U.S.? Parents who are alcoholic, abusive, mentally ill, terminally ill, neglectful… These are more common situations than “Oops, suddenly an orphan!” and can leave someone equally alone, sad, and unprotected.

Why is child abuse so unthinkable that it can never appear in fiction - is it less believable than whatever else you have going on? If being orphaned is some kind of evasive metaphor for this, it really isn’t working as intended. Why are young heroes allowed to witness death, but in their worlds, molestation, domestic abuse, and other everyday crimes never happen?

p.s.: I’ve moved this to Off-Topic, so we can talk about this in media other than video games.


How can I discuss an issue where you are more invested in telling me that any suggestion I make is wrong, and yet you fail to provide correct examples that I can discuss.

If you’ve seen it hundreds of times why can you not provide any examples? You linked to a tv tropes page that is filled with examples that do not fulfill your very narrow set of requirements so how do I know which ones I can use here? Which ones won’t have you telling me how wrong I am? Yet you yourself are not willing to state the things that we can discuss.

Surely it can’t be that difficult to give specific examples?


I suspect that we read some very different fantasy fiction. I’ve read a lot with parents who’re alive, but who’re also abusive in various ways. That might be the subsets of fantasy that I read. I like novels with female protagonists, and generally speaking the conflict there is provided by parents trying to force the protagonist to be something that she doesn’t want to. Her story can often be her rebelling against her parents, trying to forge her own path.

Which isn’t to say I’ve not seen it crop up with female protagonists too, just that they generally throw in an added dose of rape (ugh) as if wiping out her entire village isn’t motivation enough.

There’s similar themes in much of the queer fiction I’ve read in the fantasy genre, which tends to rely on parents being alive, and also abusive.


I’ll contest this!

That is not for you to decide! :yellow_heart:

Games can be about anything! :blue_heart:

Stop it, stop it, stop it! :purple_heart:

Heart #4. :green_heart:

Heart #5. :heart:

I challenge your position on this! :heartpulse:

I believe that the “relatable, boring life” does exactly what it says on the tin; it is a means for a person to relate to the story/character.

The lives, of the vast majority of people, could probably be classified as boring.
We really don’t do much. Get up, go to work, go home. Not a lot of adventure to be had.

But, personally, I’m able to more easily relate to characters that also live boring lives, and am intrigued when their lives take an unexpected turn for the better or the worse.
The mundane suddenly becomes magical/extraordinary/unfathomable.

I’m not able to really relate to a character that’s already achieved glory or vast wealth; I’m not rich or powerful, and I’d imagine most people aren’t either.

Relatability is perhaps the most necessary component that a work of writing must possess so that the reader’s intrigue, interest, and attention are maintained.

Why do the vast majority of fictional characters appear human or human-like?
It is a desire to see ourselves in these fantastical settings; humans naturally hold the desire to be able to relate to the characters that embody the concept of “ourselves.”

So, while the whole “You’re a peasant kid in a fantasy setting who’s blissfully unaware that you’re about to experience an unavoidable tragedy,” trope may be a horse being brutally beaten by a stick, I cannot deny that the trope still has the goods.

Harry Potter embodies the trope, but in a less tragic interpretation; Harry was a normal kid until he was invited to Hogwarts (He was kind of an orphan though, hmmm… :neutral_face:).
The Hunger Games arguably embodies the trope; Katniss was a normal citizen until she became tangled up in the events that led to her participation in the brutal Hunger Games.

Both of those books are immensely popular and have seen great success.

Of course, those are books, not games.
But, the concept of the trope, being ingrained within a story, is present in any form of fiction.

Besides, what did we talk about earlier, Shuu-Shoe? :two_hearts:

Live Simple; Enjoy Life. :sparkling_heart:


Must be. Interesting observation about the female protagonists needing parents to keep them down… Anne McCaffrey and Tanith Lee have orphaned characters but also some with strained families. I have never read a fantasy novel with a relatably abusive family, so it’s good to hear that they do exist.

I was reading TV Tropes trying to figure out where the most examples of “Instant Orphan” and “Doomed Home” were coming from. A lot of the sources are Japanese and/or video games. The Final Fantasy series, for example, was FULL of burnt villages and tragic orphans. Although I enjoyed the games and found the characters likeable, I couldn’t relate to them on the same level as Nisha from Borderlands, who has diary entries flatly explaining the hell that she went through growing up.


You aren’t really contesting it… Just saying I’m wrong and then saying a bunch of tangential stuff. I said being relatable is not what games are about and then you act like that means I’m trying to limit what games can be… I’m trying to explain that you shouldn’t limit what games are able to be by whether or not it’s “relatable” enough

Again, you “challenge my position” but then don’t actually challenge it. You say you disagree with me, and then proceed to restate my point with different words…

As I said, I’m not saying that all backstories involving a boring life until something crazy happens are bad. I’m saying that drawing out the whole boring life part to try to create an attachment to characters who only exist to die as motivation for the main character to go on an adventure is obvious and tiresome.

Also, kind of tangential, but Harry Potter is a horrible example of a “normal kid”. his whole thing before he gets off to Hogwarts, and the reason he’s so happy about it, is that the tragic unavoidable death of his family has left him in the care of a new family who’s cartoonishly abusive…


I could easily relate to a character that achieves mass power, world’ domination or wealth. Y’know, if at the end it says in cute-sy text
’And it was all a dream…’

A game I’d like tons better is where a magical/ powerful person turns into a normal person, to teach him humility. Actually I hate that idea. We need a game about racist zebras who either associate as: White with Black or Black with White. But don’t worry, some chameleons will help them resolve their racial issues!