Zatara: City of the Ingenious (Update: 12/25/16)


#1

Welcome to Zatara: a low-fantasy city in one of five sibling states (called Magnancies, ruled by Magnates), in the overarching country of Izuora, a land detached and isolated from any possible form of civilization.

You play as an orphan, now an adult, who has had to claw their way to stability in a society designed to keep the working class – the chattel – at the bottom of the social ladder. While you don’t have much in the way of possessions or wealth, you do have an established way of life, and you know what to expect from the time you wake up, to the time you go to sleep.

Then, when the ruler of your fair city dies prematurely, you are placed among the candidates for her replacement.

In this game, you will personally experience the discrepancies between how the two extremes of the classes live, navigate your way through newfound skills, influence the very structure of the society you hold dear – or that seeks to punish you at every turn. Uncover your past, forge your future, find your One True Love, or maybe a couple of them. Your city, like those of the other Magnancies, is cutthroat, and will tear apart anyone who deviates from the values established by the Founders. Tread carefully, because for every ally your choices make you, there are another three enemies.

https://dashingdon.com/play/mismallark/zatara/mygame/

This is the first half of chapter 1, sitting at about 7,600 words. There will be three “arcs”, with probably 10 chapters total. I’ve been tinkering with this world for a couple months now, and I have an absurd amount of collected information, from censuses, to the amount of land actually settled, to the entire story of the ‘Founders’. Not all of it will have a place in this novel, however.

Got any questions? Think I screwed somethin’ fierce? Let me know, because I don’t think I know what I’m doing!

Update: 12/25/16
In addition to continuing the second/last part of this chapter, I went back and made a handful of revisions as per those initial suggestions. Thanks to anyone who caught typos, and especially to @Sovereign2Lilith and @idonotlikeusernames for your suggestions. I hope the changes I’ve made are what you had in mind.

Another couple fun additions I’ve made are images!!! I am by no means an artist. I’m much better with words than lines and colors. I put a good amount of effort, however, into a rough coverart and country map (not quite ready in demo, for reasons I haven’t quite figured out). I’ve never toyed with *image before, and I was definitely not intending on using it for this project, but since I had a sketch in my big notebook of the country, I figured it might be good for players to have a rough idea of where everything is. Neither image is finished, of course, and I’ll be working on them as I go.


An Officer's Primer
LGBTQ and Feminism Issues
#2

What a meaty demo! Thoroughly satisfying and an interesting premise overall.
I especially liked the choices regarding how we feel about our culture/ societal norms. I wonder how much we can ( or cannot) affect it later on.
Anyways, consider me enthralled~


#3

I’m really excited to get to the parts where the player can try to influence the city. Depending on previous actions, the decisions will either take, or make you a target


#4

Looks like lots of fun so far! Here’s a quick typo catch:

“You drop into onto the dresser, and it makes a soft thud.”


#5

The pace of this short intro was great! I love the concept of climbing social ladders, or even better, deconstructing the social hierarchy in games.

Also, my playthrough ended w city guards arriving… Not sure if that’s a quick ending or just the end of the current playable content(?)


#6

It is, indeed, the end! In the new year, I’ll have another section posted in the new year (I’m in the middle of family festivities and then moving to a new city!)


#7

Why does the MC let the thief go? I understand the city guard is incompetent, but couldn’t we dish out some vigilante justice and cut off his hand or mark him or something? He could have caused me and my fellow co-workers to be punished for unproductivity.

Your code could be cleaned up a little. You can use *fake_choice when you aren’t going to different labels and fake choice does not require a goto especially when you are going to the same label for all of the choices.


#8
  • I watch silently and reverently. This tradition is an important part of showing appreciation and respect for the Magnates.
  • This is not how I would choose to be honored, tossed to be eaten by animals on the mountain.
  • These old systems are trite, and are just in place to worship the Magnates.

I noticed the first option includes an action, while the others do not, which made me wonder if they might cause the protagonist to do something other than watch silently. I picked the third option just to see (I wouldn’t have done so if playing normally), and got no acknowledgement of it on the next page.


#9

This is just personal preference, so feel free to ignore, but I prefer a list of names to choose from rather than an empty box. You can always give the player a custom name option after all, a list is just more convenient for them.


#10

This part is honestly just a stat changing fake_choice. There’s a handful of these littered throughout this first part, and for this particular one, I intended it more as a reaction than as a branch.


#11

I actually went through and changed all the non-branching paths to *fake_choices, but perhaps I never uploaded the edited version.

As for the thief, he was more or less just a plot device. The motivation for letting the thief go will (hopefully) make sense in chapter ii. You might have noticed, but there is an odd worship going on towards the Magnates that speaks of more than just loyalty to the crown.


#12

Hmm…it’s certainly a good demo, however my mc chose to work as an undertaker exactly because he isn’t all that social or much of a talker and while I understand we need more money I would have thought my mc would be more apprehensive of strange, wealthy women offering him jobs that apparently require charisma and social skills and probably in full survival mode when it isn’t said woman or some of her servants who come to “collect” him but fully armed guards.
So I hope you will allow us to attempt to at least try to escape or run from them.

Also the mc is horrendously un(der) educated for actually ruling anything and as usual being a mere figurehead holds little appeal to me (or none at all if it involves forced opposite sex marriage).


#13

Sounds really good can’t wait for more


#14

Fake choices can still have text attached to show the player that the game registered their input.


#15

I suppose one of the things I can put on my list is to really emphasize the desperation of the player character. And I can certainly put some not so obedient options in the next section.

As for rulership, my inspiration for this was feudal England. Knowledge and skill are not the basis for inheritance. This will definitely be cleared up in the next section, but for now, know that the player will receive a certain amount of guidance and teaching.


#16

Huh? That wasn’t the vibe I was getting, sorry. I was thinking more of Panem of the Hunger Games and I was thinking that we basically had to compete against the other candidates in an arena, or at least a series of rigged and highly lethal contests, or something like that. With the grand reward for being literally the last one standing being a job we’d be hugely unqualified for, so we’d be little more then a figurehead puppet.

For real or just enough to turn them into a more obedient puppet of whoever “sponsors” us?
Well I guess I’ll know it when I see it, particularly if the majority of the “training” focuses on useless etiquette, instead of actually useful knowledge.

Much appreciated as right now it seems to me that we’re leading a poor and hardscrabble, but also honest and decent life, even if it is thanks to the generosity of an innkeeper.

If the mc is as desperate as you say then mine probably loathes and fears the guards even more then I thought and would probably try to escape from them at any cost, as being tortured and languishing in a dungeon or prison somewhere would naturally be even worse then the life we have now. :fearful:


#17

Yup. The only real necessity for candidacy is basically royal blood, or being a descendant of one of the founders. This civilization is several centuries old, so of course there’s lots of people with that tie by now. However, there is one aspect that has been hinted hinted at (which will be introduced very soon), that gauges the uh… strength of candidacy, I guess? Like, in terms of who has a greater claim. This society does believe that skill is genetic, so the best candidate will have skills most similar to the founders. These skills do inspire a certain… obedience, in their subjects, as well.


#18

I just noticed that we always refer to ourselves as the innkeeper’s “niece”, I hope that we will get to choose our gender and not be locked to female only?
If so please add a gender choice at that mirror as it fully allows us to input a masculine name at the moment. :unamused:


#19

Geez, you’ve caught some nice errors. It’s changed now, it was basically just a case of author-bias. I intend to leave the narrative as gender-neutral as possible, so please let me know if you catch any more errors like this!


#20

Great work! I’m loving the absolute gender-neutrality of it. There are a few errors here and there, though, but they’re nothing serious.