Swiftstryker, The Wordsmith
Profile pict is from this awesome young woman.
And...I'll probably be drowning in classes...which means inactivity...so...yeah.
A loosely DnD-based storygame for a campaign I had in mind, but never got to writing.
Recent PostsEndMaster's Prompt Contest on 5/22/2022 5:21:46 PM
Is #46 open?
Swift wants to write about fee-fee's and zombies. on 4/21/2022 11:17:28 PM
It'll be a case-by-case basis, with particular undead becoming close friends with the protagonist's original self (while you aren't behind the wheel making decisions for the necromancer), while others signal time and again they're actively tortured being brought back. It's not like the undead themselves in this story are static personalities, so I do want some of them to switch attitudes over the course of the story. Some may adjust to being in the physical world once more, others might go insane pursuing a certain regret in their past lives, and still others just regress and become empty puppets. A lot of these consequences are by happenstance and conversation, rather than necromancy being an exact science with predictable outcomes.
Which brings me to another point I forgot to address: I do want there to be another plot wrinkle (#4 or 5?) involving the disillusionment with magic in general. Just like how necromancy is a spotty practice with variable results, resurrection isn't always going to be a good decision if the wrong person gets brought back. Like an old advisor to many kings being brought back for the nth time? He'll probably just off himself or douse the entire audience hall in flames before running for the hills. Maybe I can marry this with the costs plot wrinkle (resurrection becomes cheap; necromancy becomes expensive and/or vice versa or both become cheap / expensive), but I'm leaning on the idea that this is a phenomena that happens later in the story to signal the beginning of the end, or early on as a way to pique interest on the necromancy's polar opposite.
Swift wants to write about fee-fee's and zombies. on 4/21/2022 11:02:20 PM
1. Yes to the first question.
2. It really depends on the life of the person. People who are religious obviously get sucked into heaven / hell, and those who commit themselves to specific gods generally can't be recalled in any capacity (not even through true resurrection; the god has claimed that person's spirit). Then after spirituality comes people with strong impressions from life (so someone who is politically rigorous, someone who has seen a lot of war, someone who was a doctor, a master tradesman, etc.) who feel satisfied; they tend to go sooner.
3. A day or two doesn't really matter in the beginning, but if you're trying to recall a soul at the very cusp of an afterlife, then that day or two makes all the difference. There's no clear timer, though, so necromancers usually try to be as expedient as possible with their pulls while they're still cheap. It just gets way more difficult to pull people who have no attachment to the physical world and you have to end up placating yourself to gods to let them loan you one of their flock.
Swift wants to write about fee-fee's and zombies. on 4/21/2022 7:22:11 AM
It's more like a general lobby of purgatory, and necromancy pulls spirits out of that lobby and ground them to the mortal plane. Most spirits who didn't make much of themselves in their past life are curious to see the going-on's of the physical world, but aren't exactly as interested or self-aware as the living are...initially. They'll become more aware as they spend more time in the physical world, for better and worse.
Spirits who spend long enough in that purgatory go to their respective afterlives (think other planes of existence like Sovnguard or the Nine Hells from Forgotten Realms), so pulling those spirits from those other planes will produce varying results. After all, wouldn't you be pissed off if you were ripped out of Heaven to help some mopey-ass loner get their ass off the ground? Or, if you were pulled out of Hell, wouldn't you be scrambling to find a way to bind yourself on the material plane for as long as possible? Self-awareness and memories tied to the physical plane will lose their grasp the longer a spirit spends in that afterlife, and after forging a new identity in that respective heaven / hell, there eventually will be no way to recall that spirit back from the dead. After all, that old self has been discarded for the new self.
There's also some differences between forms of undead, with zombies and flesh golems becoming the most aware due to all the flesh involved (think of them like interfaces for spirits to feel, eat, sense, etc.) vs. skeletons (which are controlled like puppets by their respective spirits). And the more gruesome amalgamations and monstrosities (which our protagonist probably would only create along the "worse" routes where complete selfishness overrides any sense of empathy for the spirits) will end up being abominations from a personality standpoint.
Immaterial necromancy is always temporary, so there may be lapses of memory between conversations with the dead that way. This also is going to create a plot wrinkle where a particularly long-time servant of the necromancer loses their original body and ends up passing on with the added accomplishments of servitude, which brings that particular person much closer to an afterlife than purgatory. From what I've already written, there'll be a subplot regarding spirits' consent to being pulled back into the material plane.
Note to self: "Tug the rope if you're there."
More on the setting and the start. on 4/21/2022 7:01:05 AM
Here's some guidelines to future me for making the intro of this story.
There a few things that need to be established in the intro:
1. The protagonist is a necromancer. There is no "I become" arc like other stories. Which means I have to show the sheer normalcy that the protagonist has in speaking with the unliving, and contrast that with a big fucking rift between their life and the lives of other people when the fact finally becomes apparent. Becoming a necromancer was a natural conclusion and choice to the protagonist before the player's agency because the necromancer exists independently of the player. Which leads me to the next part:
2. The player is stepping into the necromancer's shoes. The intro needs to guide the player into the character's mindset, rather than the player molding the gloves into the shape of their hands. No personalization, no names, no gender, nothing to customize. Which leads into the final part:
3. The usage of "you" needs to be impactful for this to work. If the adverb "you" is being used, it is to drive a point home hard enough to pull the player out of the immersion for a bit. This can apply to future chapters later, but starving the players of the Y in a CYOA game makes them fill the void by drinking the details more heavily. Inductive reasoning and implicit details need to be either obvious enough to be taken as a fact, or pieced together after stringing the player along for a bit. Is this necessary for every chapter, or every work? Fuck no. But introductions need to make an impact, so this is why the reminders are being left here.
3a. Why not drown players in "you" until they become desensitized to it? Because that is going to be done on introspective scenes, where the player becomes a sort of separate consciousness from the protagonist. Being constantly reminded of the self this early on risks reducing immersion. Could I convincingly add "you" and "your" to the intro? Definitely. But again, it's all about being visceral.
Antagonists: on 4/21/2022 1:35:49 AM
Swift, I get that it's supposed to be an intrapersonal conflict between the main character and the player (since they are one and the same), but why the FUCK did you throw in external antagonists?
I want them to be minor / machinations of the outside world moreso than people who embody ideals, because I personally find that too many plots involve external conflicts (though, they are much simpler, easier, and more entertaining to read and write). After all, if this game focuses on the mental state of the protagonist, it stands to reason that it should be largely introspective and/or conversational, rather than a confrontation of powers. We can leave the whole good ubermensch vs evil ubermensch to other writers and stories.
That being said, the end-goal of this story is to mold the protagonist into someone that is going to deal with the outside world in a specific way. So setting up external antagonists creates incentive for the protagonist to change, impresses new and changing conditions on the protagonist's world, and generally will become the measure with which to measure (and that, that will be measured out unto the player through the protagonist). I don't think I want to create a "me vs. the world" mentality until the "worst" ending, though, so a lot of the conflict should be focusing on the necromancer and their friends.
Another plot wrinkle. on 4/21/2022 1:21:03 AM
Okay, but why necromancy?
Knowing that true resurrection is a thing in this setting, necromancy can be seen as a cheap, accessible alternative to true resurrection. Not to mention that true resurrection will probably be vastly more selective in who gets brought back (someone of high standing vs. some peon with no power, political prowess, etc.) due to resource constraints and so on and so forth. A possible plot wrinkle could include the lowering costs of resurrection for the outside world / the rising toll of necromancy on our protagonist, in which the holistically "better" method of resurrection becomes commonplace and logically sound.
At its hypothetical extremes (this could be the "climax" of the story for either "best" / "worst" paths, or even some of the gray paths), undeath and true resurrection could raise some questions towards the gravity of life and death:
1. If death is a minor inconvenience, then what does it mean to "die"? What value is there in life that is free from death?
2. Are there other ways one can die beyond the physical aspect? Are there profound losses (especially relationships) that can be experienced between those of the living?
3. What is the value of someone's life after death? Is the memory of their existence more cherished than the actual existence itself?
I do want to touch upon some really gnarly, personal topics with these same questions, but I also have a gut feeling there will be a lot of reactionary responses if I start to include suicide, abortion, euthanasia, etc. in the story. It's a bit too on-those-nose for some people, but it's not like these topics weren't a recent issue: societies in every technological era still struggled with them. So I still feel justified on writing about this kind of stuff, but I also know it would be a hell of a challenge to approach these topics without denigrating either side and letting the reader choose for themselves what values to align with (or I could intentionally critique both sides, but that sounds like preaching and ranting, which I don't want to do in a storygame).
A plot wrinkle: on 4/21/2022 1:01:44 AM
With regards to resurrection and the afterlife:
Okay, necromancers don't live in a fucking bubble. So the direct counterbalance to necromancy probably going to be true resurrection in body and soul, a la DnD or some shit. Which means sure, some people won't stay dead, and you can bet your ass that somebody in the necromancer's menagerie of corpses is going to have somebody worth resurrecting in this manner. Which means a lost friend, in a sense, but also a gained friend...depending on a few things:
1. Whether or not I want to put in variables into this storygame so that productive, meaningful conversations between the necromancer and the spirit means a continued friendship.
2. What stage the story is at when this happens, and which route has been taken thus far to affect necromancer's reaction to this event.
3. How this secondary character should grasp their time being not-alive as a positive, negative, or neutral experience.
With regards to the two routes I've posted already, there's already a black-and-white dichotomy that could be done, but we could dip into a grey area concerning consent and freedom: our little bitch of a necromancer could be a raging libertarian that just wants to have their freedom to talk to the dead respected as much as their resurrected thrall should no longer be put under control. That's fine and dandy too (and needlessly complicated), but at the end of the day, I want this to be sort of an abstract parallel to these questions of freedom and agency in relationships :
1. Are friendships things that just happen and should be appreciated while they last? Or should they be things worth fighting for to maintain and keep alive against all odds?
2. People change, as do the trajectories of their lives. In spite of this, are some friendships worth keeping? Are they worth prioritizing over say, a trajectory to a (subjectively) more successful and happy life?
3. Is it anyone's fault when relationships are made and broken?
Yes, you can answer these questions on your own time, but ultimately I want the scenario and story to pose these questions in the context of attachment, consent, abandonment, etc. Yes, very angsty, very moody, very emotional, I get it. Teens may relate to this more than any other age group.
This is getting very close to CoGite material. And that might be for the worse, but what the hell, this is a fee-fee storygame. It would be fucking weird if it wasn't going to touch upon some fee-fee-heavy topics.
Two routes: on 4/21/2022 12:36:11 AM
The "best" route:
So the most boring, predictable path people want for our mentally-underdeveloped necromancer is to grow the fuck up and move on. And, if I'm lacking any imagination for any other path, this probably is going to be the one that gets the most work done. Either by conversation, self-contemplation, or force, the necromancer eventually has to live with the fact that keeping the connection with the living and the now is not only the preferable thing, but also the necessary thing to do for their own personal development. Of course...this is if you accept the framework that the undead represent only the things of the past.
The "worst" route:
The second-most boring, predictable path is the inverse of path 1's ideal: our little sensitive bitch of a wizard solidifies their mistrust of the living world through tragedy, circumstance, or by (again) self-contemplation. Yes, you could have an argument or a battle to also make this happen, but I want to save those options for other routes and other narrative ends since those methods tend to create uncertainty. I could take an "interesting" spin on the idea that being undead isn't so bad after all (woohoo, lich ending), whatnot with practical immortality to spend the time with the other undead friends, but all in all this is supposed to be a sort of regressive slide into immaturity and denial. If you think this ending could be spiced up, toss an idea this way.
Swift wants to write about fee-fee's and zombies. on 4/21/2022 12:25:01 AM
Probably will never get written due to my own time constraints and lack of continued interest, but this scenario is going to sit in my head until I spill it out somewhere.
Necromancers are long established to be kinda morose people that work with the dead. Some raise corpses, other talk to spirits, and still others make themselves walking corpses. They have a lot of connections with those who aren't necessarily supposed to be walking and talking with the living anymore, but it's generally a thing people gloss over since we're more interested in what a necromancer can do with those connections (i.e. topple a nation, look for hints at a crime scene, play pranks on the neighborhood kids, etc.). But I'm not interested in that.
Then Swift, what the fuck are you getting at?
Well, what if a necromancer is more interested in the act of connecting itself? Rather than being a fully-functional person that has a strictly utilitarian usage for necromancy, we make a protagonist that has a hard time of letting people go. Instead of making friends with the living, they retreat back into the comfortable, familiar relationships with people who have already passed.
That sounds like a softcore, shitty version of Mizal's story, dipshit. Besides, it's a trope that necromancers with fee-fees get eaten by their own undead.
Yes and yes to the both of those. But just as much as End wants to write simple villains that are general assholes and don't need a tragic backstory, I also want to write (at least bits and pieces) about a (largely mental) struggle with a necromancer's fee-fees. That's not necessarily outlawed on this site is it?
It's very CoGite, though.
Which is why I'll post it there once I get it done here. Anyway, this is going to be a dump thread for random ideas and inspirations relating to this story.