Scarlet Sea [campaign storyline]

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battlestar
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Re: Scarlet Sea [campaign storyline]

Post by battlestar » October 3rd, 2012, 11:31 am

We have a new story writer from Mythicscribes forum, Caiged Maiden. She's a fantastic writer, check out her writings if you are interested: http://mythicscribes.com/forums/challen ... nge-3.html (her stories are mixed with other ppl's stories in there)

Another story revision from the top:

Part 1 (incomplete)
In the city of towers, where the skyline resembles a hundred graceful dancers, their hands rose to the sky, there is one tower that stands above all others, a grand spire dwarfing the rest. And, its story is almost as remarkable as its impressive height.

A young, spirited girl named Valia once lived there, as the ward and student of her grandfather, the wizard, Nizbaf. He doted on the girl, while he taught her the mysterious arts of magic. With no memories of her childhood, and only the kind old wizard’s stories to provide vague clues, Valia spent much of her time dreaming about her future place in the world, with her friends, that is, when they were not getting into childhood mischief.

Skarbod, one of Valia’s closest friends, was an enigma in and of himself. Almost too handsome to be an orc, he wore a permanent mask of misery, when he should have had plenty to smile about. No matter how Valia taunted him, the orc would not reveal the reasons behind his gloom, preferring to suffer in silence than burden his friends.
Then there was Lila, a young girl of Dwarven blood, who carried the sun's own radiance in her youthful smile. [A student of healing magic, Lila was certainly the most charming of the trio, using her childish charisma to (hmm what would be something fun that a 4-6 yr old would pull? Lila is a white-magic using shy girl who always acts like a 4-6 yr old).]

And, then there was Glani, a human boy whose mere presence set Valia's heart fluttering. His merest glance could lift her spirit to the clouds above. But, he remained entirely oblivious of Valia’s adoration of him, wrapped up in the joyous havoc he wrought with his endless pranks.

One day Valia awoke slowly from her slumber, to a silence she’d not often witnessed in Nizbaf’s home, silence. Missing were the explosions, the riotous chaos of Nizbaf's sorcerous experiments. Smiling and stretching, she wondered if he had finally abandoned his wonderfully mad inventions.

Slowly, she dressed and went in search of her grandfather. But she found only a letter, her name upon it, tucked half-under the still-warm breakfast he must have prepared for her. Reading as she ate, Valia learned her grandfather had left on a long journey, which the note suggested must be rather more important than his usual scholarly field-trips.

Valia shrugged. She was used to her grandfather's occasional absence, and she had her friends to stave off loneliness and boredom. She smiled, without knowing that she did so - how could she ever be bored, in Glani's company? There was plenty to occupy her, and Nizbaf would return when he was ready, as he always did.

A year later, though, Valia began to worry...
LUA: Llama Under Apprenticeship
Hell faction: completed

Lanval
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Re: Scarlet Sea [campaign storyline]

Post by Lanval » October 4th, 2012, 12:13 am

Edit: Found the Structure of the Story laid out a bit more clearly on the second page, I'd recommend editing the first post for the sake of clarity or else posting links to read stuff in order.

There seems to be a lot of cases where we're not being introduced smoothly, along with the occaisional grammatical error that makes it hard to understand for example; "A young, spirited girl named Valia once lived there," would make sense as the first sentence of the story but saying after you've already set the scene makes it sound like the story is taking place after the girl named Valia left. Generally the opening seemed a bit odd to me in the first setting too.

The names don't seem Wesnothian, which is fine since this seems to be an original setting but over all the naming scheme seems a bit off. No patterns at all, which seems odd considering that I'd assume they mostly speak the same language. Valia, Nizbof, Skarbod and Glani indivi dually could be made work [though Nizbof sounds inherently silly, it could be worked in] but together the contrast sounds a bit ridiculous. I'd recommend picking maybe one or two real languages and basing your names off of them with enough changes to make it abit more fantasy like.

For Opening I feel like there was a lot of showing rather than telling. I know you want to tell the story quickly but for example "Skarbod, one of Valia’s closest friends, was an enigma in and of himself. Almost too handsome to be an orc, he wore a permanent mask of misery, when he should have had plenty to smile about. No matter how Valia taunted him, the orc would not reveal the reasons behind his gloom, preferring to suffer in silence than burden his friends." tells me a lot about Skarbod but doesn't make me care about him. Introducing a character like this to an established character is a stretch and people will groan at an author trying to wedge in characters like that, dropping all these names at the start will just confuse readers and not make them care at all. I figure it should come out in the writing, he might turn out wistful and mysterious or else he might turn out to be a bit character or he might turn out to be an emo. At best telling me in the opening is redundant and the character will be written exactly how he was described making it redundant, at worst, it's the wrong characterization and annoys me by throwing a redherring in my way.

Honestly, I don't feel too much characterization from anyone, though I think Valia gets the most opportunity, I'm too sure on what she is like; She seems to try to be the leader while at other times seems to be guided by other characters. I don't think I could really make a single statement about what one of her traits are; shy? brave? nervous?

Initially I was afraid that the first post was supposed to be the introduction and there I'd say, she moves rather quickly to murder. I mean maybe it's inherent in being undead but then, I feel like we don't have a reason to feel sympathy for her after. If she wakes up and shifts that quickly to wanting to murder me, then I am really not feeling pity for her. I think much more struggle and confusion needs to be implied than "Okay, I'm undead now so I really want to murder humans". Focus on the struggle inherent in waking up having a craving for eating what you once were. In finding out that the undead aren't too different from the living. In trying to figure out exactly what you are. I think in order to be sympathetic to her as an undead, I'd need to see her suffer as an undead, be hunted by the humans without quite knowing why. Trying to protect them inspite of it. Feeling a wierd craving and hatred that can't be controlled. I'd recommend looking at Descent into Darkness for a mainline campaign that tries the "Undead might not be so bad" angle.

Also, you gave undead free will, I'd highly recommend exploring that more. Would they all be happy seeing the ones who rose them killed? Would some try to protect the humans? Flee into exile? Or even end their own unlife in despair? Would all of them, upon recieving freewill really be content to turn over all power to a little girl? Maybe it's all Redherring and she's just a more powerful Necromacer who is able to control undead who would otherwise disband and deluding herself with a puppet show that she is putting on only for herself? That'd be an awesome twist but would need more forshadowing.

Also, if every single race is scared enough of the undead to team up against them, then shouldn't the undead be a little afraid of their dwindling food supply? I mean what happens to them once the Humans and Dwarves and Elves and etc. are all either piece meal or count themselves amongst their number? I mean, there's possible solutions but not addressing it at all leaves a rather awkward question.

Skloan and Grycian are similarly odd linguistically, considering they are basically the same people divided by Gender, I'd assume they'd have a bit more of a linguistic link to eachother, but if that's true then the rootwords of each of their tribes are Sklo and Gryci which is odd. You don't need to make a Tolkienesque Conlang but some sort of system would look a lot nicer.
-Cannibalism is odd: It comes out in times of desperation or else is born of tradition. Cases of cannibalism from sieges, famine or shipwreck occur but aren't a sustainable national trait in that sense. You would loose a lot more energy fighting another human being than you'd get from eating one, so while a rare exception might occur in human history, you wouldn't see a tribe driven to cannibalism by desperation survive for long. Tradition might work; eating an enemy to gain his strength is valid if morbid and sort of out of character for elves... But it would be a rather rare thing, someone that is done in the throws of celebration of a major victory rather than a typical dinner, though I don't see you claiming otherwise.
-I really don't get why they would be gender divided most of the year. Some wierd form of population control? It doesn't exactly seem as though they are worried about a population overflow, I mean if they did get more mouths than they could feed, they could likely go raiding until they either got the food they needed or the excess mouths died in the attempt. Maybe a strict gender caste system makes sense but I really don't understand why they would divide into different tribes completely save for a yearly meeting.
Last edited by Lanval on October 4th, 2012, 1:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Scarlet Sea [campaign storyline]

Post by 8680 » October 4th, 2012, 12:21 am

Lanval wrote:... Start of Darkness.
Descent into Darkness?

Lanval
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Re: Scarlet Sea [campaign storyline]

Post by Lanval » October 4th, 2012, 12:23 am

Yeah. I couldn't think of the title and of the ones I thought of "Start of" seemed like the most likely. I was planning on checking the wiki but you beat me to it before I could get the edit in.

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Re: Scarlet Sea [campaign storyline]

Post by battlestar » October 4th, 2012, 1:48 am

Thank you for your extended thoughts and input.

The story in the first post has little to do with the current story. It was scraped and started over.
There seems to be a lot of cases where we're not being introduced smoothly, along with the occaisional grammatical error that makes it hard to understand; "A young, spirited girl named Valia once lived there," would make sense as the first sentance of the story but saying after you've already set the scene makes it sound like the story is taking place after the girl named Valia left. Generally the opening seemed a bit odd to me in the first setting too.
This is my error in choosing the past tense. I’m going to work with caged maiden on this.
The names don't seem Wesnothian, which is fine since this seems to be an original setting but over all the naming scheme seems a bit off. No patterns at all, which seems odd considering that I'd assume they mostly speak the same language. Valia, Nizbof, Skarbod and Glani indivi dually could be made work [though Nizbof sounds inherently silly, it could be worked in] but together the contrast sounds a bit ridiculous. I'd recommend picking maybe one or two real languages and basing your names off of them with enough changes to make it abit more fantasy like.
It’s a good suggestion and I’ll give it serious consideration. I’m not sure which languages would sound more Wesnothian. If I went forward with this plan by myself, there would only be more silly names. The only thing that concerns me about name changing for main characters is correctly replacing old names with new names in all planning documents, various file names, and especially codes -- it would be quite a project to do. It’s quite unfortunate that I didn’t have you opinions earlier. If we could come up with some very good names together, I’ll lean towards changing them.

I’m out of time today and will need to reply the rest tomorrow. From a glance, I think you’re talking about both the scraped old story and the current story at the same time, which is making me confused on some details. The discrepancy also makes it more difficult for me to find proper ways to incorporate some suggestions.

Here’s a more comprehensive current prologue story http://forums.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php ... 9&start=17
LUA: Llama Under Apprenticeship
Hell faction: completed

Lanval
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Re: Scarlet Sea [campaign storyline]

Post by Lanval » October 4th, 2012, 2:56 am

Yeah, I assumed the story was the prologue to the plot explained in the first post. It's probably still valid as stuff to avoid and worth looking over but yeah, I think my main criticism with the prologue was that it was a severe case of "Show don't tell" where the entire characters of characters are dropped in our laps, which you shouldn't do. And in all that I've read I don't really have a feel for Valia's motivation or character.

You should find a comprehensive name list in the Battle for Wesnoth Folder under: C:\Program Files (x86)\Battle for Wesnoth 1.10.3data\core\macros

It will be called names.cgf, open it with mircosoft notepad.

If you're having trouble, I can copy and paste the contents in a PM to you.

General Rules and Details as I picked them out:
Spoiler:
I haven't really looked through the other races yet but you might consider going for Elvish names being predominant since Valia then isn't too wierd and it would make sense under an Elf dominated society.

Skarbod wouldn't be dreadful left alone but if you want to abide by Wesnoth rules then Harok would be the closest "Wesnothian" equivalent I could make considering the Orcs lack a "d" and "s" sound while still sounding dangerous. [Sharbok could also work, but sounds less threatening]

I'd recommend using Lila over Lily, though it would probably short for something but considering how the plot goes there probably won't be great cause for formal address.

Glani and Nizbof need a second look definitely. Glani can be made Glwn, though pronounced aloud this sounds silly [something akin to "Gloon"]. Nizbof honestly sounds sory of silly to me. Nithariel, Naugdrsil, Nwnyl would be at attempt to make something vaguely similar in Elvish, Dwarish and Human respectively.

Alright; filtering stuff down to just the final prologue;

-Show Don't Tell: Glani and Lila died before I cared about them. On an abstract level I can understand some of Valia's grief, I can't really share any of it. Give them more dialogue, maybe an encounter with him just so we start to warm up to him. Right now, literally we get a paragraph introducing each briefly in terms of skills and maybe a hint of personality only to have half of the first part rendered null. Even if you put in a prologue mission, if you kill them off before at least mission three, people will have trouble caring too much. Finding a replacement [at least appearancewise] for him before the end of the mission really doesn't help much either; Readers/Players really couldn't have been bothered much about the first. We don't really understand what that entails since we never saw the originals interact.

-Wierdness overload: There are levels of surreal, some are intriguing, others are a challenging and force you to stretch your mind but they are all grounded and focused enough that if I'm confused, I'm confused about one thing. Reading your plot in full, I don't understand what is happening in too much detail.
--The Statue/Jewel: I can buy this, but I assume this is getting some explaination. I feel like there should be more questions and drive to figure it out though. Skarbod doesn't seem to comment on it so for all I know it could be totally normal.
--Town Guard: Even if the undead didn't seem agressive, I feel there should have been some conflict or attempt to stop them. Also is there a reason the town in unaware of the nature of the Jewel in the massive statue in the center of the town?
--Her Grandfather's Tower: Is the outside world overrun by undead/disaster so her grandfather is keeping a close eye on her? If so, her going out on a trip isn't really treated as anything wierd.
--Cannibalism: I was skeptical about it in the Skloans, the Bandit stumbling on dead family and deciding to eat them? I am pretty sure the more natural aim of a massive freakout would be suicide. Maybe a rampage though that would be difficult considering it would take a sober mind to figure out where the murderers were. I think the best compromise would be simply stating that with his family dead, he gave them burial rites left his old life behind. Without a home to go back to, he decided he had nothing to lose and took up banditry. It makes more sense then that he would actually command a unit; he is a capable man with nothing to lose as opposed to someone who went off the deep end and ate the bodies of his family.

-Lastly, I'd say you should structure your narrative a bit more around combat if you aim for this to be a campaign. Battles happen in the middle of subsections, where as in a proper campaign battles are the things the players come for. Plot is great and all but Battles shouldn't be an after thought in it buried between walls of text.

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Re: Scarlet Sea [campaign storyline]

Post by battlestar » October 14th, 2012, 2:07 pm

I appreciate your input. Please pardon my delay in response, I've been extremely busy lately.

1. Names: I know where names.cfg is, it's a good idea to look in there. The general rules you provided are very helpful.
1a. Lila
I'll change Lily to Lila. In fact, both Lily and Lila appeared in the coded version and I meant to fix it sometime by changing all of them to Lila.

1b. Glwn
Glani will be changed to Glwn.

1c. Skarbod, Sharbok
Sharbok could work, but we could work on his name more because changing his name will be much more difficult than Glwn and Lila.

1d. Nizbaf
Honestly, Nizbaf is a tribute and reference to Zanfib (Starshield), Zifnab (Death Gate Cycle), and Fizban (Dragonlance). Death Gate Cycle was one of my early inspirations on doing this project. I know the name sounds very weird, and it was intentional to have it sound weird. Nizbaf isn't of any known races either. Other arrangements of the letters are welcome, and for the moment, I wish for the name to stay with the same letters. This isn't to say that I'm 100% unwilling to change it.
2. "Show don't tell": You made a good point, and I understand what you are saying.
2a. The initial character dump:
I think the best way to remedy this is through a tutorial scenario, which is required given additional features in game play.

2b. Pre-scn story:
For the most part, I try to keep the story in the realm of scenery description, and scenes where finer details couldn't shown by pure dialogues.

However, you're right, currently It does also include parts where events could be shown in a scenario. This is because I created the scenario situations first, then fitted them with a story, and went back to modify the scenarios, so there are often substantial story gaps between scenarios.

2c. Future artwork:
One of the reasons I would like to keep a little bit more pre-scenario story is because I would like to show some of the story using artworks. Hence, how much story to transfer into scenarios is a delicate balance I couldn't decide on easily without someone to work with me closely on the story.

2d. In-game dialogues:
There are in scenario dialogues in place that are meant for identifying Valia's motivations and characterizations. It's difficult to present those dialogues in the forum due to the complexity of some scenarios, so I elected to not post them alongside the story segments, which could be the cause for some confusion and gaps in understanding.

All dialogues, stories, maps and mechanisms are found here, under file section:
http://forums.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php ... 8&start=93
Direct link to script files that contain both story and dialogues alongside with scenario plans and characters info:
http://forums.wesnoth.org/download/file.php?id=58918


3. "Weirdness overload": Alot of story are missing from the posted segments, please see 2d above.
3a. There is a backstory to all this, which I plan to reveal to the player slowly through scenarios that take place in Valia's dreams. Hence, there're going to be confusions and much unanswered from the prologue alone. On the flip side, clarification should be made on everything that could be clarified.
-- Jewel: This will be explained much later as the backstory is revealed. Skarbod knows what it's there for, and he's not telling Valia.
-- Town Guard: Player will be fighting alongside town guards against undead in two scenarios. The town is indeed unaware of the jewel's significance, and this is intentional storywise.
-- The grandfather left on a long trip to deal with some kind of "disaster" first, then the undead started popping out everywhere outside of the city. The undead and disaster are two different events. The grandfather was keeping a close eye on Valia, but now he's gone and she's pretty much free to do anything she pleases.
-- Skloans and Grycians have nothing to do with the prologue events... As for why the gender separation, I don't know, but there are weird cultures out there. It's an issue very remote from what's going on in the Prologue.
-- Cannibalism:
The bandits are just bandits, a bunch of guys who should be hospitalized for mental instability who're threats to self and others. In my opinion, when it comes to psychiatric illness, nothing's impossible. There's a wide range of defense mechanisms ranging from mature to immature to pathological, which could be further distorted by any number of underlying personality disorders and psychiatrical illnesses. So logically, logic couldn't dictate how the bandits would act.

This is what happened to the leader of bandits (Dialogue by courtesy of Boldeck):
Spoiler:
3b. Overall, I'm not aiming for a real-life like story, and tilting towards surrealism and mental shocks. Indeed, how much is too much is a detail that I think is better discussed on a event to event basis.
4. “Too quick to murder”:
Initially I was afraid that the first post was supposed to be the introduction and there I'd say, she moves rather quickly to murder. I mean maybe it's inherent in being undead but then, I feel like we don't have a reason to feel sympathy for her after. If she wakes up and shifts that quickly to wanting to murder me, then I am really not feeling pity for her. I think much more struggle and confusion needs to be implied than "Okay, I'm undead now so I really want to murder humans". Focus on the struggle inherent in waking up having a craving for eating what you once were. In finding out that the undead aren't too different from the living. In trying to figure out exactly what you are. I think in order to be sympathetic to her as an undead, I'd need to see her suffer as an undead, be hunted by the humans without quite knowing why. Trying to protect them inspite of it. Feeling a wierd craving and hatred that can't be controlled. I'd recommend looking at Descent into Darkness for a mainline campaign that tries the "Undead might not be so bad" angle.
This is a very good point, and it would be interesting to expand on this. Btw, she didn't eat her dad, she tore him apart then sew him back together as a ghoul. Currently, the reasons for her murder is a) She was resurrected by a demon. b) She's being tortured by unimaginable pain, driving her insane. It would be interesting to expand more on the inherent struggle. Being hunted by humans as a scenario is another good idea.

How good or bad Valia is, is entirely up to the player's in-game choice. How this will play out, I can't predict at the moment. I'm aiming for the players to be Valia, to make her choices, instead of to sympathize with Valia's choices.
5. "Free will undead":
Also, you gave undead free will, I'd highly recommend exploring that more. Would they all be happy seeing the ones who rose them killed? Would some try to protect the humans? Flee into exile? Or even end their own unlife in despair? Would all of them, upon recieving freewill really be content to turn over all power to a little girl? Maybe it's all Redherring and she's just a more powerful Necromacer who is able to control undead who would otherwise disband and deluding herself with a puppet show that she is putting on only for herself? That'd be an awesome twist but would need more forshadowing.
So far, the only undead with a free will is Valia. She's definitely mad at her father for rising her and trapping her in an eternal suffering, and she tore him limb from limb. Valia will be given options to kill or protect humans on an event to event basis, it's up to the player. Instead of being contempt with fleeing to exile, Valia rose an army of undead and started ravaging the surrounding kingdoms.

The backstory I mentioned earlier does have other pseudo-freewilled undead, and they're peaceful ones living out their "ordinary lives" under an illusion.


6. "Food for undead":
Also, if every single race is scared enough of the undead to team up against them, then shouldn't the undead be a little afraid of their dwindling food supply? I mean what happens to them once the Humans and Dwarves and Elves and etc. are all either piece meal or count themselves amongst their number? I mean, there's possible solutions but not addressing it at all leaves a rather awkward question.
I didn't think undead needed to eat? They'll continue to exist as long as the magic that held them from fading is still there.
7. "Skloan cannibals":
Only Skloans are cannibals as part of their tradition, Grycians are not. Skloans will never eat another Skloan. They see other elves (despite being elves themselves), humans, dwarves at the same level as livestocks and wild games. It's like how we see intelligent ape and dolphin species, where some people (bad, bad people) see no problem with eating those animals. Some bigger monkeys also hunt and eat smaller monkeys. In warfare, Skloans will eat dead and captured enemies of other cultures, but will bury fallen Skloans with very humane rituals. To outside observers, Skloans are cannibals for all intents and purposes. No outsiders could get close enough to learn about Skloans without being eaten, Grycians being the only exception. Skloans definitely has advanced agriculture and husbandry so they don't need to eat other elves, humans and dwarves. Skloans just consider them to be delicacies to be had.


8. Gender division:
I don't know why Skloan and Grycians divide themselves that way either. To Skloans and Grycians, this is the way it's been for a long time, and they don't care to live with eachother for long term. Skloans want stability, Grycians want freedom. One scholar postulated that during ancient times, they were of one matriarch society in the mountains, where the females rode gryphons to hunt because they were lighter to carry by gryphons, and the males stayed home to tend to the young. With development in agriculture and husbandry, males took up these tasks which led to the beginning of transition into a patriarchy society. Females didn't look kindly upon this power transition and an internal conflict erupted. The conflict resolved without a compromise, leading to the sundering of their culture.


You've made some good points, and I appreciate your interest and time put in this. Given your substantial writing skills, if you would like to be involved in the story aspect of this project as a team member, I will be able to let you have the final say in much of the story.
LUA: Llama Under Apprenticeship
Hell faction: completed

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