Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

Discussion and development of scenarios and campaigns for the game.

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Mordocai
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Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

Post by Mordocai »

Updates
1. Added terrain defense clarification on main character. (Reminded by Dixie, thanks!)
2. Edited scenario amount to just read "As many as necessary" instead of saying 15-20. Done after reading ESR's guide to campaigns :).
3. Minor edit to note that it's possible for the reference to the Advisor/boy to come from a campaign previously in time as well (thanks Dixie again :)).
Okay, so first off: This is currently a thread solely to come up with a good storyline that the majority of people like. I would want the campaign to -eventually- be at least eligible for mainline. I still want to mess around with WML some more and play many more campaigns before I actually start development. However, I’ve had an idea similar to this for a while, and would like to get the storyline done so I have a solid idea what areas I need to pay more attention to when looking at other campaigns and WML. That being said, I am going with a "Linus Torvalds" like development, and releasing early and often (at this time only storyline, no code/maps until storyline is completed). Therefore, I want constructive criticism. I'm not above coding in (as in C++ code) new features to make this work, so any comments of "That's not currently possible" are appreciated (so that I know) but won't change my ideas.

Okay, so here are the "technical" details I want it to have:
Technical Details
1. Similar difficulty when compared to Heir to the Throne. Hopefully eventually(as in likely a few years from now) a good Heir to the Throne "replacement" in case the player is more interested in the chaotic factions. Would be cool in the long long term to have a tutorial based off this one as well.
2. As many scenarios as it takes to flesh out the storyline and make it fun.
3. Plan to have some humor and banter among units(both enemy and allies). Would particularly like to have some undead making comments. (If just to use the amazing new portraits :))
Storyline ideas:

Well, my first idea was almost immediately thrown out for the confusion/breaking history factor, but I’ll document it anyways:
Old idea
An "alternate history" where a young necromancer rises up at the same time Konrad is trying to take the throne. The cool thing about this idea is you'd eventually get to fight and kill(or turn into a ghost?) Konrad and Delfador. Mainly thrown out because I want this considered for mainline and it would break all the existing campaigns which mention Konrad taking over, etc. I had more about this, but unless there is overwhelming support (including from the developers) I am throwing it out, so no reason to type it all here.
So, here's what I have so far. Keep in mind this is -purposely- very incomplete, as I want criticism about every step, not just the finished product:
New Idea
A young boy (baby/toddler max) of strong magical potential is stolen from <insert monarch here>(alternatively another leader or even just a regular human couple) by a ghost(or similar soul based unit) whom was previously a Lich/Necromancer that the parent(s) had helped to destroy in some way. He raises said boy in the swamps far from the parent(s), telling him nothing about his origin and constantly telling him how evil all humans are. He teaches the boy dark magic as early as possible. On his 18th birthday his "gift" is to learn necromancy.

This is where the player comes in. The ghost/soul has a Delfador type role (very powerful and wise adviser), though I’d like him to start as a level 3 and be able to level up to 4. He and the boy would need custom portraits/sprites before the final version. I'd like the adviser to have a strong melee attack with drain, and the boy to have a weak-medium melee attack with his hands, as well as both having ranged attacks. The boy will have excellent defense in swamp, as well as possibly some other unusual (for humans/elves) defenses/resistances as well. The first scenario will involve him attacking a group of some type of living race. The adviser will have taught him to concentrate dark energy and do a "dark touch" like attack that has the plague affect. Thus, he will make his first army of walking corpses. He will also have the usual dark-adept type ranged attack. Since he's in a swamp already, perhaps have a named ghoul bodyguard (with fun dialogue of course!).

I would like him to learn about new Undead units(maybe even level up as well) by the adviser leading him to increasingly powerful necromancers and him killing them. However, at the point of death he will capture their souls and bring them back as ghosts. (The first one might be the one to teach him this, from a book or some other method. Alternatively the adviser tells him, though that's just boring :P) Having control of their souls, he will force them to tell him their secrets and possibly lead him to the next necromancer. For the level up idea, some won't have anything to teach him so he'll drain their power (read: devour their souls) and level up(Alternatively this happens with the ones who teach him stuff as well/devouring their souls gives him the knowledge. Perhaps a mixture of both). Having him gain all Undead units with the ghost method would be boring, so will likely only have one or two that way, with other ways yet to be thought of as well. He will likely never gain all undead units, as I want him to have other chaotic units (Likely Orcs/Trolls/Naga/Saurians/Bandits) as well. These he will obtain through various means, including promises of power, immortality(likely the bandits for this), and riches. Also likely just pure fear.

After traveling and gaining various powers (preferably also an artifact similar to an evil Scepter of Fire) he will confront the monarch of the land (even if he wasn't their son) and the last scenario will be taking over the kingdom. If he was their son, he will find out as the monarch dies, and likely destroy his adviser(devouring his soul might be nice here as well :)). Alternatively, he just won't care because he's evil.
Well, that's the basic idea. The main things i need help with are (approximately in order of importance at this point in time):
How to help
1. A time period suggested to work in. It'd be cool if we could have either his adviser/him already having been mentioned in a campaign set later/previously in history. Basically, though, I don't want to do it to where it breaks another campaign. I really want it to fit in with the rest of the Wesnoth history.
2. Geographical area to work in. Basically same thing as above.
3. Links to existing lore on above 2 items.
4. General criticism on the various ideas presented. Especially the things that I had alternatives listed for.
5. Specific things you would like to see in the campaign.
6. (Not unimportant, just not needed for awhile) Artwork for the adviser/main character. Keep in mind he's been raised in a swamp by a ghost/soul. Maybe custom artwork for a custom ghoul as his bodyguard, if someone has ideas for that.
Okay, now to answer some general things I foresee people commenting on.

I know this is VERY ambitious for a first campaign and that such an ambitious campaign is generally discouraged as a first one. This is why I say I’m not going to actually create it for quite a while. I plan on making some smaller campaigns for practice(especially in the balancing/difficulty department) before I make this one. Might/might not be released to the public. Depends on how they turn out.

I do not mind constructive criticism, even if it contains ideas that would throw a good portion of my ideas out. However, please no "this sucks" type comments. They don't help anything.

If anyone really likes this idea and wants to start developing some WML/maps/art for it now, feel free to do so. I'm not going to be mad at anyone making stuff in my place. However, unless I become inactive, please do not make the entire campaign and release it without any of my input. I would like the chance to at least approve it before it is published.

Finally, the main reason I’m using the open development approach (besides I think it is a GREAT idea and gets work done better/faster) is so that if I die(/go on wesbreak/lose interest/get busy) someone else can work on it while keeping true to the original design, if they wish. This is also one of the reasons I want to create the entire story before anything else.

P.S. I decided on experimental use of sections to make the post not quite so much to scroll through. I haven't seen sections used much, so if you don't like them please let me know and I’ll replace with indents. Also, I’m throwing around the idea of replacing the main character with a female instead of a male. It could lead to fun dialogue later on, as well as fun actions (female distracts male with looks while skeleton stabs him in the back). Also, there don't seem to be many campaigns with the main character being female, so would be nice to add one. I'd need support from our resident females for stuff females would actually say/think though! (Evil demented females, of course).

Edit: Just to clarify. By "finishing the storyline" I mean having a scenario by scenario list of how the storyline will play out, along with the enemies/amount of enemies involved.
Last edited by Mordocai on July 3rd, 2010, 9:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Dixie
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Re: Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

Post by Dixie »

Ok, first off, I am by no means an expert in wesnoth lore. Truth be told, I only have played about half of the mainline campaigns.

So, here's an idea to place your storyline in time. As I see it, there are no (none that I know of, anyway) campaigns about the time when Wesnoth got the second sun, and the darkness grew longer, and then the fall of Wesnoth (stuff mentionned in UtbS, iirc, but I don,t know it by heart). Since you want your hero to conquer/destroy the kingdom, it could be a good time period, since Wesnoth indeed falls at that point. It could be his/her fault. S/he could even be the one to lenghten the night: imagine an undead (chaotic) campaign with the two suns (days twice longer) but only normal nights (or even worse, shorter nights). There would most certainly have place for interesting gameplay elements/more challenge.

Since it is gonna be an undead campaign, apparently, such a time period might require you to create a new unit line either having the fearless trait, either being neutral or downright lawful. Depends on the difficulty and all...

I don't know how this plays out in wesnoth lore, but my guess is you don't necessarily have to make him/her a follower of Eloh, with demons and everything (although you -could- if you wanted to). This would also be before everything turns into deserts, so no worries there either.

The mentor would certainly need to be a character that appears in rpevious campaigns. Wasn't there a uber lich in Delfador's Memoirs? Maybe it could be him?

Else, maybe you can look in Era of Magic, the dark elven matriaches have some cool aura abilities and stuff, could help making your hero/adviser feel more special? Or some undead-specific leadership? Or even an ability to convert enemy undeads to your side? Or perhaps have a feature to let dead units leave corpses behind, which your hero could animate through a right-clic menu option. Hell, it could even replace standard recruitment altogether! Although you might still need a keep/castle for recalling... unless you drop recalling (not so cool) or make it be done through a right-clic menu option too.

Other random idea, don't know 'bout its worth: maybe your hero could be elven, or perhaps half-elven (if those exist in Wesnoth lore), but change his terrain specialty to swamps instead of forests? You could perhaps had some units/create interesting attacks combining faery stuff with undead stuff.

Also, if you plan to have humorous bits, I think pirate banter is the absolute best! Maybe you could have a pirate cap'n ghost/skelly as a loyal unit for some reason?
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Mordocai
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Re: Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

Post by Mordocai »

Ah, yes. When I was making my original idea I decided s/he'd have unusual terrain defenses, with the best terrain being swamp. Forgot to mention that. Editing it in!

As far as choosing the time period, I’d really like it if the "lore masters" would get together and debate it :). Your idea sounds pretty cool, though I haven't played UtbS, and have no idea who Eloh is. I'm playing through all the mainline campaigns now. (I've played some, but never all of them).

Edit: Forgot to mention, I kind of like the idea of the main character being an elf/half-elf as well. I'll wait for time period/advisor identity for that though.

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Re: Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

Post by zookeeper »

Mordocai wrote:I do not mind constructive criticism, even if it contains ideas that would throw a good portion of my ideas out.
All right...

So isn't the plot basically that the protagonist just kills his way through the land because he's evil and wants the throne? I don't see how you can get a very interesting storyline out of that, as there's basically no plot development of any kind after the backstory. You at least need some kind of conflict: what does the protagonist try to accomplish and why? Wanting to conquer stuff because your undead foster parent raised you to be evil isn't very interesting, even though it can work as the beginning of the story.

Here's just a few example ideas of how a similar story arc could be more interesting:

1. Due to not much fault of his own, the protagonist is initially hunted by the "good" folks, and gets his chance at payback.
2. He starts out doing evil because because his mentor tells him to, but gets captured, gets a chance to redeem himself by helping the "good" folks hunt down the mentor, does so, gets double-crossed by the "good" folks and ends up fighting them again.
3. He starts out doing evil because his mentor tells him to, but comes to realize he's in the wrong and ends up on the "good" folks' side.
4. He's evil and just wants to conquer stuff, but his mentor also had other "students" who are now his rivals and the main antagonists.

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Re: Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

Post by Mordocai »

zookeeper wrote:
Mordocai wrote:I do not mind constructive criticism, even if it contains ideas that would throw a good portion of my ideas out.
All right...

So isn't the plot basically that the protagonist just kills his way through the land because he's evil and wants the throne? I don't see how you can get a very interesting storyline out of that, as there's basically no plot development of any kind after the backstory. You at least need some kind of conflict: what does the protagonist try to accomplish and why? Wanting to conquer stuff because your undead foster parent raised you to be evil isn't very interesting, even though it can work as the beginning of the story.

Here's just a few example ideas of how a similar story arc could be more interesting:

1. Due to not much fault of his own, the protagonist is initially hunted by the "good" folks, and gets his chance at payback.
2. He starts out doing evil because because his mentor tells him to, but gets captured, gets a chance to redeem himself by helping the "good" folks hunt down the mentor, does so, gets double-crossed by the "good" folks and ends up fighting them again.
3. He starts out doing evil because his mentor tells him to, but comes to realize he's in the wrong and ends up on the "good" folks' side.
4. He's evil and just wants to conquer stuff, but his mentor also had other "students" who are now his rivals and the main antagonists.
Hmm... I've got to say, while probably the least interesting plot wise I kind of like option 4. All of them are good ideas though, IMHO. I don't really want to do number 3... I always hate stories where good ends up winning lol. Number two would have the coolest plot twists. Maybe a combination of idea 2 and 4. He kills the mentor for the good folks, then has to fight his mentor's other students (whom he didn't even know about!) as well as the good folks, because they were just using him to kill his mentor and are now wanting to kill him. Possibly a good "run away" scenario where both antagonists show up at once and start fighting you and each other. You know, get to signpost type thing.

Edit: He would still conquer the throne and take over, just after killing his rivals/the good guys. Probably have the good guy thing come after he's got a good bit of necromancy under his belt and maybe even some non-undead allies.

Also, what does everyone think about the idea of having multiple types of chaotic units? I was thinking about having that so it could be a "chaotic" introduction kind of like HttT is a "lawful" introduction. (Grossly simplified on purpose. I know that HttT allows you to get some chaotic :))

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Re: Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

Post by Dixie »

For the records, I kinda like number two too. Four seems a bit too straight forward, one seems "overused" and 3... I'll agree with mordocal on number 3 :)

Mixing number 2 and 4, depends how it turns out. Sure, it gives for some badass looking possibilities, but what does it bring plot-wise?

Anyway, I think a scenario of "the good guys" having become quite power hungry and corupt, raising new suns in the sky and everything could blend well with your ideals and Zookeeper's #2. And it could be a great set up for you to write that campaign about lenghtening the nights (or was it preventing them from raising a third sun to totally eradicate the night? Or both? Can't remember)

Btw, Eloh is some kinda demon-god that's corrupted the remnants of Wesnoth's humanity, or something like that. Can't remember the exact chronological order and stuff. If you have the time/will to, you really ought to play Under the Burning Suns (which is mainline), possibly Invasion From the Unknown (Add-on) and maybe The Sojournings of Grog (Add-on also, although this last one may be less pertinant for the storyline).

Anyway, of course you don't have to do wrap your campaign around this, but I think that it could be interesting and that it might be a lacking part in wesnoth history (campaign-wise).
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Re: Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

Post by Mordocai »

Well, so far that time zone sounds pretty awesome. I'll want to play the campaigns you mentioned and scrounge up a bit of lore before I decide for sure though. Yeah, number 2 is definitely going to be in there unless something else comes up. Maybe a vastly limited number 4. Like, you have to fight your rival fairly early on or something? Perhaps his adviser has them fight for his amusement, to see who wins. This makes him more open to the "good" guys when they come around.

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Re: Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

Post by Dixie »

Or maybe the good guys want you to take care of your ancient brothers in learning/rivals? Sounds like a good premisce early on, though.
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Re: Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

Post by Velensk »

If you want it to be potentially mainlineable you'll have to stay out of alternate Eras. Count Kromire will not be mainlined no matter how popular it is/becomes because of this effect.

I personally actively dislike the idea of undead making humorous comments.

For number four you could probably make it more interesting by having the other apprentices either have or pretend to have other objectives than the main character. This gives you the opportunity to have them team up (as each trusts the other to follow their own self interest) break up/betray move around in more varied ways.

I would suggest that the more complex the objective the easier it is to make the campaign interesting. Claiming a throne is a pretty strait forward objective if taken by itself. SotBE has the sub-plot of gathering the great horde/squashing dissenters and the betrayer as twists, DiD has the needing to grow in power/claim whatever that book was called, in Count Kromire I used the fact that Kromire needs to fight to increase his numbers (kinda ironic really) and had the final battle with a lead into the sequel after the main objective was accomplished. I feel that HttT and TRoW suffer from the fact that they have far too many battles for the amount of interesting plot (NR and SotBE too but not as badly, NR suffers from the fact that the battles tend take a long time and become tedius). Unless you can come up with allot of interesting content (UtBS does a good job on this) I'd suggest keeping your campaign on the short side.
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Re: Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

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Dixie wrote:Or maybe the good guys want you to take care of your ancient brothers in learning/rivals? Sounds like a good premisce early on, though.
Yeah, right now (if I go with your time period idea) I figure we can have these objectives, in order:

1. Learn basic necromancy.
2. Defeat 1-2 rivals on Adviser's direction.
3. Good guys convince him his adviser is evil.
4. He fights other rivals and advisers.
5. Good guys turn on him, he's forced to run away into swamps.
6. Perhaps his adviser wasn't really defeated, he meets him again here?
7. Defeats his hunters somehow.
8. He learns about an artifact that will allow him to extend the night. A few scenarios to get this.
9. New objective is to take over the kingdom. Have a few scenarios in this vein.

Of course, this is just a general outline. There's plenty of room to add some cool unique stuff.
Possibly have all rivals defeated after the good guys convince him, instead of a couple before and a couple after.

This is, of course, subject to change. :). Just my current idea.

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Re: Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

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Velensk wrote:If you want it to be potentially mainlineable you'll have to stay out of alternate Eras. Count Kromire will not be mainlined no matter how popular it is/becomes because of this effect.
Well, I want to have only a maximum of 4 unique units. Possibly as little as 2. Though, UtBS has an entirely different era... So, obviously, there are exceptions.
Velensk wrote:I personally actively dislike the idea of undead making humorous comments.
Yeah, I haven't been able to think of a good way to do it. I might have the enemies have humorous comments instead.
Velensk wrote:For number four you could probably make it more interesting by having the other apprentices either have or pretend to have other objectives than the main character. This gives you the opportunity to have them team up (as each trusts the other to follow their own self interest) break up/betray move around in more varied ways.
Very good idea. I'd like to mix it with the number 2 idea if possible though... I have plenty of time to think about it :).
Velensk wrote:I would suggest that the more complex the objective the easier it is to make the campaign interesting. Claiming a throne is a pretty strait forward objective if taken by itself. SotBE has the sub-plot of gathering the great horde/squashing dissenters and the betrayer as twists, DiD has the needing to grow in power/claim whatever that book was called, in Count Kromire I used the fact that Kromire needs to fight to increase his numbers (kinda ironic really) and had the final battle with a lead into the sequel after the main objective was accomplished. I feel that HttT and TRoW suffer from the fact that they have far too many battles for the amount of interesting plot (NR and SotBE too but not as badly, NR suffers from the fact that the battles tend take a long time and become tedius). Unless you can come up with allot of interesting content (UtBS does a good job on this) I'd suggest keeping your campaign on the short side.
Yeah. I figured I'd have the artifact sub-plot for sure, since he's supposed to increase the duration of the night. I also plan on having a lot of interesting subplots and stuff. This is a work in progress anyways, so I have plenty of time to think of more cool things to have them do!

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Re: Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

Post by Velensk »

Oh you can use unique units to the point of unique factions, what you cannot do is use an entire UM Era because that would require the developers to include it in the game.
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Re: Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

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Having thought a wee bit about your storyline, it feels to me that your main character lacks motivation. And I find the "greed and power hungry" thing to be... bland, maybe? Sure, he follows his mentor at first, but why would he switch over to the good guys? And why in the world would he want to rule the kingdom? Maybe seizing the throne is just a side effect of whatever he's trying to accomplish (lenghtening nights/preventing the "good guys" from creating a third sun?). Like, maybe he needs the king's crown, the scepter of fire, the left earlobe of the king's third son, or something?

Here's a general story outline idea (hope you don't feel like I'm investing myself too much in this; it's your story, your project, you do whatever you want with it. Final decision is yours, of course)

Maybe he is a really hateful guy, and while at first he wants to have revenge on humans/elves/anything for abandonning him (following his mentor's influence), maybe his brethren turn on him for some reason (maybe he's the mentor's pet and they want it to look favorably at them, maybe they just want to seize his power, maybe they see him as a concurrent to some goal). Then he could make a pact with the humans so they help him getting rid of the other necromancers, with something in exchange (maybe some village to kill and raise, maybe gold, although it is unfitting, maybe a powerful artifact). Then, the humans turn on him, he flees, and while seeking a way to take revenge, his mentor (which survived) tell him of the two-suns thing and "project for a third sun" (you'll have to double check this project actually exists). He then tell him of an artifact. Once he get it, maybe he needs a royal heirloom, or just be in the throne room for the ceremony, or something. Being vastly outnumbered, he could get an ally (either a surviving brethren, or an orc warchief could be fitting too). Said ally would want to seize power, and once they seize the capital (and maybe after the night-ritual-thing), said ally turns on him, so he's sure to have no competition.

Then, depends on how you want to conclude the campaign, but I feel like "he justs rules the kingdom" is a bit lame. Although maybe you don't want to make him die or lose in the end... It could maybe end with some human mage/his mentor/his temporary ally invoking Eloh and her hordes of demons, because he had planned it all along/to save his stuff. Now maybe you'd feel like having a battle against these demons, but your hero couldn't really totally win since it would go against the storyline of other campaigns. A solution would be to have him just survive eternally in some swamp/cave, but to me it feels too alike to Descent into Darkness. I'm not really sure what could happen besides that and him dying. Maybe turning himself into a tatue so he survives the ages until the magic fades?... Or depending on what your being told in UtsB and Invasion from the Unknown story-wise, maybe he somehow becomes Eloh himself? Like, possess her, or she didn't exist and he somehow managed to transcend his nature to become it? Maybe he doesn't battle the demon hordes at all, but rather his mentor (without having told him beforehand) uses the main character's body to invoke Eloh (who he becomes) and invokes hordes of demons... Although I wouldn't know why the mentor wouldn't want to be Eloh himself. Maybe the soul is lost? Maybe he has some control over it? But then he would appear in UtbS...

I dunno. Just some ideas thrown out there, if there's anything you think you can put to good use :)
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Re: Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

Post by boru »

The biggest hurdle to getting your project accepted into mainline may be the fact that there is already a mainline campaign about a young necromancer and his mentor that begins with learning basic necromancy. If you haven't played DiD yet, I strongly recommend that you do so and then go about the task of structuring your campaign to be as different from DiD as possible, especially the first few scenarios. Hope that is helpful to you.
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Re: Possible Chaotic Unit Campaign

Post by Mordocai »

boru wrote:The biggest hurdle to getting your project accepted into mainline may be the fact that there is already a mainline campaign about a young necromancer and his mentor that begins with learning basic necromancy. If you haven't played DiD yet, I strongly recommend that you do so and then go about the task of structuring your campaign to be as different from DiD as possible, especially the first few scenarios. Hope that is helpful to you.
Yeah, the problem is that her already knowing necromancy would be kind of bland in my opinion... I definitely see your point though. I suppose I could do kind of the opposite... perhaps she starts out with good necromancy but starts losing her powers? So, she has to find an artifact to restore her powers. That could be the first part of the campaign. Perhaps it's a powerful artifact so she has to fight other rivals/one of her rivals has it. Then she gets her necromancy back and goes on with the objective to lengthen the night. Does that sound interesting to you?

P.S. Pretty much decided they are going to be female... not completely sure so i haven't edited it in yet. Thought it might be nice to have a campaign with a female main character :). As far as I know, there aren't any mainlines with one.

Edit: Forgot to mention that this would provide an excuse to have her need to find new allies like the Orcs etc. With her powers over her creatures waning, she would have to reach out to other ways to defeat her rivals.
Last edited by Mordocai on July 6th, 2010, 2:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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