A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

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A-Red
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A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by A-Red »

Hey all. I've been working on an overhaul of all the text in Two Brothers--the writing wasn't bad, but the story was only a skeleton, and had all sorts of unexplained holes--for instance, who are those orcs that just came out of nowhere, and why was Bjarn captured instead of killed? I wanted to try to tie everything together in a way that made sense. I've also focused heavily on the relationship between Arne and Bjarn, and given them a more fleshed out backstory. Finally, I've envisioned the two dark sorcerors as brothers too; I think it adds some interesting double-meaning to the title. So anyway, here it is:

Level 1 Pregame Text

12 V, 353 YW
Excerpt from the journal of Bjarn of Maghre

The animated corpses struck Maghre again shortly after dusk. Our outer defenses slowed them enough for the townspeople to quell the attack with only a few casualties, but we cannot survive many more nights like this one. The undead first appeared a week ago and have struck sporadically since that time. The people of Maghre have not once managed to respond quickly or effectively. They have known peace for too long; the spears and cudgels hanging on their walls have become relics of a distant age, and even those skilled with hunting bows lack the inner iron needed to shoot them properly when faced with real danger. Terror presides over every confrontation, and so we slowly slide toward an inevitable defeat.

With my mage training at the Academy on Alduin I am their best weapon, but my understanding of combat training and tactics has proven poor. If I could face this Mordak--as his Adepts called him when they delivered his ultimatum on that first day--then my magic might prove stronger than his, but he remains in the hills surrounded by his servants.

I need my brother. He and his company are on the road, hiring out as guards to merchant caravans and officials traveling on the more disreputable roads. Arne has seen more combat than most in this time of peace, and even when we were children with sticks for swords he had a head for battle at which I could only marvel.

When I was a student at Alduin I crafted a pair of amulets for us so that we could call to each other in times of need. For the second time in my life I have sent out that call. I do not know if he will come. I do not know if he has even kept the amulet. We have not spoken once in the four years since Toen Caeric. I can only hope that he will forget what lies behind us for a time and come to the aid of our home and our people.

Level 1 Ingame Dialogue

(opening)
Bjarn: Greetings, brother, and welcome home.
Arne: Hail.
Bjarn: Is that all, Arne? I understand, but--
Arne: You sent for my aid. What ails Maghre?
Bjarn: A dark mage. His servants call him Mordak. Outlying farms have fallen, and they've made numerous attacks on the village itself. We can't hold out much longer like this. The villagers of Maghre have taken up weapons, but they are not trained fighters; we need your men, and you to lead them.
Bjarn: I can feel his foul touch on the hidden currents of the earth and air. He is somewhere in the hills north of here, no more than a day's ride.
Arne: All right. I will do this for the village. Can you keep the mage off our backs?
Bjarn: I will go stealthily with a handful of our best scouts and woodsmen. If you can distract him and defeat his minions, I will try to destroy Mordak himself with magic while he is vulnerable. You will be the right hand and I the left...aye, brother?
Arne: ...Aye. Just make sure you're there when we need you.

(Turn 6)
Arne: Bjarn should be in position by now. Press them, distract the mage so Bjarn can spring his trap!

(Turn 10)
Arne: Bjarn has not made his attack.
Soldier: Could he have abandoned us?
Arne: No...No. This is something else. I'm worried about him...but right now it means we have to deal with this Mordak ourselves.

(Victory)
Arne: Good work, men. But what has become of Bjarn?
Mordak: [the sorceror emits a chilling laughter through broken lungs, a sound like the raking of claws across stone. He struggles to rise, and for a moment the company fears his magic will return him to life...but he collapses, and his laughter becomes a death rattle.]
Arne: There's nothing more to be had from this one. Come; we have more work to do.
Last edited by A-Red on September 5th, 2010, 8:23 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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Re: A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by A-Red »

Level 2 Pregame Text

16 V, 353 YW
Excerpt from the journal of Arne of Maghre

We've been searching three days for Bjarn, and turned up nothing. My best hunch was to head north into the borderlands, where the necromancer's minions could safely hide; everywhere else is more farmland. At first I thought the search might be useless, but late in the first day we found a set of tracks. Some of them had been made by skeletal feet.

We're close enough to be certain now: those tracks are heading into the Grey Woods. No one from Maghre or any of the other villages has gone into that forest in living memory. Stories have been passed down for generations warning against it. Supposedly the place is haunted by lost souls who hunger for the living, and anyone who dies there is doomed to join them.

But I'm past superstitions now; I've seen enough of the world to guess at the truth behind these sorts of tales. The forest is home to elves--unfriendly ones, if the stories have any basis at all. I worry for my men; horses don't fight well in forests, and the elves will be more dangerous in their own territory. But there are things that need done and questions that need answered. Something bigger is happening. One necromancer terrorizing townsfolk is nothing new, but why didn't his servants scatter when he was killed? Where are they headed now? And most importantly, why did they take Bjarn with them?

Besides...I want my brother back.

Level 2 Ingame Dialogue

(opening)
Arne: You know, this place seems peaceful. It's hard to believe there's any danger to be found here.
Nil-Galion: You there! Halt and explain yourselves!
Arne: We're after some men who kidnapped my brother.
Nil-Galion: Those men told me their prisoner had attempted to murder their master, and warned that unsavory men would follow him. Advance no further, or you will die.
Arne: Ghost stories indeed. I knew it was elves. And they will not stop me from freeing Bjarn.
Soldier: At least we won't have to face ghosts. But those elves will have us at a disadvantage; our horses will not maneuver well in the trees.
Arne: Just stay on the paths; our spearmen and bowmen can fight in the deeper woods. We have faced and won through worse odds.

(Nil-Galion dies)
Nil-Galion: [collapses] I am dying, but it does not matter. You will never catch the undead, and their masters have promised me eternal life. My part of the bargain is fulfilled.
Arne: Good luck with that.

(Brena appears--unchanged)

(Dark Adept appears--unchanged)

(Dark Adept dies)
Muff Toras: You'll get nothing from me, including the mage. I sent him north with half my men a day ago. He will be locked away in my master's dungeon by now.
Arne: My blade is at your throat. Tell us the way to my brother now, or I'll spill your wretched blood on the ground.
Muff Toras: [the adept matches Arne's gaze for a moment, but appears not to like what he sees]
Muff Toras: Three days ride to the northeast there is a deserted castle. We have made our home there. The passwords to the guards are [script-randomized].
Arne: Bind him and take him with us. If he has played us false he will die.
Soldier: Sir...what kind of mess are we getting ourselves into? I thought you wanted nothing to do with your brother. Not since Toen Caeric...
Arne: I...don't know. Things have changed. Mount up, and let's get moving.
Last edited by A-Red on September 5th, 2010, 4:02 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by A-Red »

Level 3 Pregame Text

19 IV, 353 YW
Excerpt from the journal of Rotharik the Clanless

The last of Mordak's servants arrived this morning bearing the news of his death, as well as a bundle so well-bound it was barely recognizable as a man. Mordak was always reckless. This whole desperate scheme was his, and I suppose I could blame him for everything that we have suffered through if it still mattered. It was he who brought the wrath of the orcs down on us too. But all the same, he managed to accomplish what he set out to do. I still cannot believe the finality of what has happened; until now we had always managed to make it through somehow.

We had hoped to deliver the mage to Tairach in return for our lives. I do not know what the warlord wants with him, but he matches the description. I suppose that Mordak's plan would have worked perfectly if not for the appearance of the horse warriors. Now they are coming here, led by a man rumored to be this mage's brother. If that is true, he will stop at nothing; I would not if they held Mordak.

I have done what I can to fortify this delapidated castle. The orcs who came with us stand guard at the gates, and I am gathering all of my servants to me in the inner sanctum. But I have no confidence anymore. Whether or not I defeat this horse warrior, the orcs will still come for me; they have been scouring the borderlands and raiding the northern farm country in search of us.

Yet for some reason I fear these brothers more. If Mordak were here it would be different, but we are broken...and these two men are whole. In each other, in the ties that bind them, they have strength.

Level 3 Ingame Dialogue

(opening)
Narrator: [Arne and his men halt outside of the castle, gazing for a moment at the hulking mass of stone looming in the fog. As they wait, figures materialize ahead of them].
{Wordsmith's Note: These outer guards should be orcs instead of outlaws--maybe a Slayer and Crossbowmen instead of an Assassin and Bandits. Orcs fit with the story; the outlaws are, and always were, rather out of place}
(The guards' dialogue is unchanged. After the password is successful and the guard leader has said his piece and disappeared, this dialogue occurs:)
Arne: The adept didn't lead us astray after all. I'll keep my word, distasteful as it may be; cut him loose, and let's be rid of him.
{Wordsmith's Note: I suggest that the Adept is so grateful for Arne's mercy that he offers to stay with the player's force. The player can choose to keep him as a loyal unit but lose some other loyal unit who leaves in disgust, or dismiss him}

(when the player reaches the orcs)
Knago-Brek: Haha! 'Bout time we got to kill something! I was getting sick of standing around.
Arne: Orcs? What are they doing here? You know what to do, men!

(Bjarn found before player has the key)
Bjarn: Arne! It's good to see you.
Arne: And you too, brother.
OR
Bjarn: You must be one of Arne's men.
(then)
Bjarn: This gate is magically enhanced iron. You won't be able to break it down. The sorceror has the key.

(Rotharik dies)
{Wordsmith's Note: Rotharik *does not announce his own death*}
Whoever kills Rotharik: There's a key in his robes.
Arne: Looks magical to me. This must open Bjarn's cell.

(Bjarn is freed)
Bjarn: Thank you for saving me. I...was not certain that you would come.
Arne: You've got no faith in me!
Bjarn: It's not that. Perhaps I deserved to rot here. I failed you...left you to fend for yourselves...again.
Arne: Bah. What could you have done? Besides, it's just another day's work for the company.
Bjarn: Thank you again. Let us return to the village.
Last edited by A-Red on September 6th, 2010, 9:27 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by A-Red »

Level 4 Pregame Text

27 V, 353 YW
Excerpt from the journal of Bjarn of Maghre

Almost home now. The last week has been full of mixed feelings for me--blissful and difficult by turns. It was wonderful to be out of that dungeon cell and in the sunlight again without the threat of death or worse hanging over my head...but with that behind me, I turned to the almost equally daunting task of making amends with my brother.

Due to recent events, Arne had largely forgiven me by the time he freed me from my cell. All the same, it has taken all of the past week for us to slowly regain the strong bond we once had. It is fortunate that we have been able to take our time getting back--needless to say we gave the Grey Woods a wide berth, and on our way around we traveled through some truly beautiful countryside. It has given us plenty of time to talk.

Though I am at ease, my thoughts often turn back to Toen Caeric. We should have been able to repel the orcs without great loss--the pincer attack Arne devised would surely have carried the day if it had not been for me. It was reckless of me to leave my men behind--I wounded the warlord and forced him to flee the field, but the cost far outweighed anything I accomplished. Those under my command could have been saved if I had remained with them.

I can hardly blame Arne for having taken it so hard, and I can never undo the wrong that I have done, but I suppose that time heals some things. We return to the village as brothers once more.

I wonder...is this odd sense of foreboding I feel merely a remnant of my time locked away in that dark dungeon, or is it a sign of something real?


Level 4 Ingame Dialogue

(opening)
Arne: There. The village is just over these hills, and already I see men coming to greet us!
Bjarn: No, they are fleeing from something. We must find out what is happening over there!
Arne: Men! Ready your arms!
Bjarn: We must find Counselor Hoban and find out what is going on here.
(the rest of this dialogue is unchanged)

(player forces near orc warlord--there's no script for this event yet)
Whoever gets in range: We're almost there!
Bjarn: That warlord! It's...
Arne: I'd recognize that face anywhere. Especially after what you did to it.
Bjarn: Yes! It's him! The warlord from Toen Caeric!
Tairach: You! The mage who scarred me with fire! KILL THEM!
Bjarn: Let's finish what we started all those years ago, brother.
Arne: Aye. I'll be the right arm, and you'll be the left. Let's go!

(Tairach dies)
Arne: We've defeated him at last.
Bjarn: So much has been destroyed. It will be difficult to repair all that the orcs and undead have wrecked. And they could come again.
Arne: I must go back to earning my living. But we have our amulets, little brother. If you are beset again, I will come.
Last edited by A-Red on September 5th, 2010, 3:56 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by A-Red »

Epilogue Text

22 IX, 355 YW
Excerpt from the journal of Arne of Maghre:

Maghre is looking much better than the last time I saw it. Bjarn has done wonders in two years. The village is rebuilt, and the surrounding farmlands are restored and reoccupied. Despite my brother's worries our people have faced no new threats in that time.

It has been more difficult to stay away in those two years, but I have my calling and Bjarn has his, and we have had little opportunity to meet again. But now the company and I are passing through the northern reaches of the kingdom with our new patron, and I could not resist the temptation to stop by the village and see how things were shaping up.

This patron is, of all things, an elf. I never thought I'd befriend one, but this elf lord isn't as uppity as the rest. He's seen too much; I can tell that just by looking in his eyes. I still can't pronounce his name--it's something in Elvish, of course--but I've taken to calling him Kalenz for short; it's close enough. I think there will be plenty of adventure on our horizon.

In the meantime, though, it's good to lay back and enjoy the peace.
Last edited by A-Red on September 5th, 2010, 1:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by Darker_Dreams »

I'm assuming you want comments... if not, well, I spoiler-tagged my comments anyway.
Spoiler:
I'm going to stop there for now and see if you want me to continue.

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Re: A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by Jozrael »

There's a few places where the exposition hangs a bit thick in the journal entry - this is supposed to be a recounting of events from first person, not a narrative omniscient third person. First example would be when describing his brother.

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Re: A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by Simons Mith »

Quick notes in passing:

It is a bit long, and there are some modern-sounding phrases in there that ought to be squelched. Other than that it's not bad. Above the Wesnoth average, I feel. From a medium-speed read-through, phrases to consider killing off include:

Just keep the mages of my back
I'm past superstitions now
is nothing new
Good luck with that
You won't get anything - why not 'You'll get nothing'
what kind of mess are we getting ourselves into
let's get moving
'private security'? That one's particularly egregious.

I'm not saying that they all must be removed, but wherever you can find more archaic ways of expressing these, I'd change them. And do look for more in the same vein. That does tend to be my biggest gripe with Wesnoth writing; fantasy characters talking like modern people. We want Tolkien-level dialogue, not David Eddings or George Lucas! All right, I want Tolkien-level dialogue.

PS 'any more' is two words.
 

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Re: A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by A-Red »

I'll take a lot of those suggestions, but a couple of quick points:

Darker_Dreams: the training at Alduin was in magical arts and had nothing to do with leadership or combat tactics, so I'm not sure what point you're trying to make there. Bjarn is implying that he's a good weapon, but a weak leader.

You're probably right about the cudgels, but I'm at a loss--where *would* you keep them, realistically? There probably aren't many forged weapons in the tiny village of Maghre, so I figured the less impressive weapons might as well be hung up in a place where they could have been grabbed (in a time when they were actually being used).

Lie--to be put down. I lie, you lie, it lies. Lay--to put down. The past lies behind us.

Simons Mith: The rougher dialogue is being used to distinguish soldiers, including Arne, from the more educated speakers like Bjarn and Rotharik. Some of it is probably a little too much, as you say, but I think in general it's a good idea.


EDIT: I made a bunch of edits. Most importantly I cleaned up the commas, and fixed that awkward introduction of Arne in the level 1 journal. The other places where the exposition is heavy-handed are the summary of Toen Caeric and the explanation of Rotharik's relationship with the orcs, yes? If anyone has suggestions on how to clean those up, I'm all ears.
Last edited by A-Red on September 5th, 2010, 1:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by Jozrael »

Rougher dialogue is fantastic, but that doesn't mean it needs to be more modern. That being said, it's probably something you'd need significant help on (or research). I certainly don't know the 'slang' from that set of time periods.

I'm hanging out with family for much of the weekend and can't really give this the attention it'll deserve just yet. I would love to do a full pass through this, but I'll have to wait to weigh in til Monday minimum; possibly til next week after I complete my cross-continental move.

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Re: A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by A-Red »

Jozrael wrote:Rougher dialogue is fantastic, but that doesn't mean it needs to be more modern. That being said, it's probably something you'd need significant help on (or research). I certainly don't know the 'slang' from that set of time periods.
Using archaic slang is probably not a good idea--it'd be lost on readers. In fantasy stories where the focus is on lower-class characters, especially soldiers, a somewhat more modern dialect tends to be used--as in The Black Company, Malazan, parts of Song of Ice and Fire, etc. I realize that Wesnoth is primarily a high fantasy, but this campaign and many others use lowborn characters, and I think it makes sense to follow common fantasy conventions for those types of characters.

So personally I think that modern dialect is ok (e.g. "off my back" or "let's get moving"), but anachronistic terms and references (e.g. "private security") are not.

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Re: A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by johndh »

A-Red wrote:Darker_Dreams: the training at Alduin was in magical arts and had nothing to do with leadership or combat tactics, so I'm not sure what point you're trying to make there. Bjarn is implying that he's a good weapon, but a weak leader.
Don't tell us that; tell the player. :wink:

Maybe something like, "With my training at the Academy on Alduin I am a valuable weapon, but my understanding of combat training and tactics has proven poor. I am neither a soldier nor a commander, and I know nothing of leading troops into battle."
It's spelled "definitely", not "definately". "Defiantly" is a different word entirely.

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Re: A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by Sapient »

This is a good idea. I've only read the first post so far but I'll provide a few comments.
The walking corpses struck Maghre again shortly after dusk.
This sounds too much like you are referring to game terms. "The undead corpses struck Maghre" or "soulless corpses" might sound better.

Also, I don't think of walking corpses as "raiding" very effectively. Raiding involves swift attacks often incorporating stealth or looting. Corpses are not fast or stealthy nor do they steal. Maybe just stick with a more neutral term such as "attacking."

Bjarn: Greetings, brother, and welcome home.
Arne: Hail.
Bjarn: Is that all, Arne? I understand, but--
Arne: You sent for my aid. What ails Maghre?
Bjarn: A dark mage. His servants call him Mordak. Outlying farms have fallen, and they've made numerous raids on the village itself. We can't hold out much longer like this. The villagers of Maghre have taken up weapons, but they are not trained fighters; we need your men, and you to lead them.
This first exchange seems too awkward and unnatural. Make the tension more subtle and believable. Here's my suggestion:

Bjarn: Greetings, brother, and welcome home.
Arne: Yes, you sent for my aid. What ails Maghre?
Bjarn: Is that all, Arne? A dark mage. His servants call him Mordak. Outlying farms have fallen, and they've made numerous raids on the village itself. We can't hold out much longer like this. The villagers of Maghre have taken up weapons, but they are not trained fighters; we need your men, and you to lead them.
http://www.wesnoth.org/wiki/User:Sapient... "Looks like your skills saved us again. Uh, well at least, they saved Soarin's apple pie."

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Re: A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by Jozrael »

Tbh, I preferred the first way. The second seems more forced in a text only environment. The first was rather blatant about it but I feel it works well.

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Re: A Tale of Two Brothers: text overhaul

Post by Darker_Dreams »

johndh wrote:
A-Red wrote:Darker_Dreams: the training at Alduin was in magical arts and had nothing to do with leadership or combat tactics, so I'm not sure what point you're trying to make there. Bjarn is implying that he's a good weapon, but a weak leader.
Don't tell us that; tell the player. :wink:

Maybe something like, "With my training at the Academy on Alduin I am a valuable weapon, but my understanding of combat training and tactics has proven poor. I am neither a soldier nor a commander, and I know nothing of leading troops into battle."
This is exactly what I meant.
Sapient wrote:
The walking corpses struck Maghre again shortly after dusk.
This sounds too much like you are referring to game terms. "The undead corpses struck Maghre" or "soulless corpses" might sound better.
Initially I made almost exactly the same comment. On reflection he is a mage which means he may well have a familiarity with what he's dealing with. It depends on what you're trying to show. I do agree with the raiding/attacking comment, though I didn't catch it myself.
A-Red wrote:You're probably right about the cudgels, but I'm at a loss--where *would* you keep them, realistically? There probably aren't many forged weapons in the tiny village of Maghre, so I figured the less impressive weapons might as well be hung up in a place where they could have been grabbed (in a time when they were actually being used).
Where would they be? Peg by the door, on your person when you went out to watch flocks/herds.
A-Red wrote:Lie--to be put down. I lie, you lie, it lies. Lay--to put down. The past lies behind us.
I'll take your word on that, it's one I always have trouble with.

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