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Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
When the princess of the kingdom is abducted by a dark wizard, along with the captain of the guard sworn to defend her, it becomes clear what must be done. A powerful amulet said to be capable of amazing feats of light magic, is held at the top of the Tower of the Dragon. If a party can surpass the trials of the Tower, they will be granted the amulet's power to do good. The captain's child, a knight in training, along with a friend, decides to brave the tower in order to find the amulet and rescue the princess and their father. Tricky puzzles, dangerous foes, and deadly traps await them in both the Tower itself and the lair of the Dark Wizard, but with courage, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, you can guide these youths to victory!

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People couldn't decide if there was an ill omen that could have predicted the events of that day, or if it started like any other. Maybe the wind was a touch colder than it should be for such a nice spring day. Maybe animals seemed to be on edge for some unseen reason.

But the day went on, especially when there was a parade to happen.

It was the anniversary of the kingdom's founding by its ruler some 300 years ago, and the royal family was going to parade through the streets, along with an entourage of knights for protection, and several acrobats, jesters, dancers, musicians, and much more. Families planned big meals later in the day to enjoy, children would play games in the streets, and it would be a fun day for all, much like it was last year and the year before that.

And it started out much like those previous years. Firstly, the entertainers of the group started out the parade in advance, dancing and playing music and entertaining the people standing roadside. Then, knights on horseback would begin their advance, followed directly by a float holding the royal family: King Edmund, his wife Queen Beatrice, and their teenage daughter, Millia.

Behind them were more knights, and then those whose job it was to clean up the aftermath of the parade, from the confetti to the droppings of the horses.

The parade was halfway underway when tragedy struck. At first, the sky simply darkened, and people worried it might have to stop midway through because of rain.

If only that was what happened.

As the sky drew darker, thunder began to clap, and then suddenly... HE appeared.

It felt like lightning struck the float itself, and in a way it did, the way he appeared in a flash of light and sound.

He had the appearance of a handsome young man, seemingly barely older than the princess herself. He dressed in a black cloak that covered most of his body, with the only notable feature being a gold piece with a ruby where the chest met the neck before his hood formed.

But still, he had an aura of dread that emanated from him. His skin was bone-white, his hair was dark and long, and his eyes were blood red. The wind whipped all around him as the royal family cowered from his aura.

"Good morning, King Edmund. My name is Mizar. I am a wizard of some power and knowledge, come here with an... offer of sorts, to you and your kingdom." Mizar held up a hand, and the storm froze as if time had stopped. The clouds still hung darkly above, but the wind and thunder disappeared.

"You see, I am aware of this kingdom's history. About the great magic power that your ancestor gained via his pact with the Spirit Lord. The power that has appeared on and off through his descendants which has guided this kingdom to prosperity. That now appears, almost as strong as the original form, in your daughter."

It was no great secret that Millia was a princess in possession of magical abilities: in addition to being tutored in conventional subjects like history and mathematics, Millia was also receiving tutoring from the court wizard Althion, in order to learn to control her talent.

"And so I offer you a deal: I would have Millia as my bride, so that my considerable magical talents, combined with her bloodline, will produce some of the most powerful mages in history as children. I would have you, King Edmund, make it official-a proper marriage, once she comes of age, of course."

Millia, strong-willed and brave as she was, stood up. "Father has promised me that my marriage shall be with whom I love, and I do not love you!"

Mizar's soft, pleasant tone didn't change an iota. "Oh, that is simply because you have not met me in full. I promise, Millia, that I shall be a good husband to you. I shall make for you beautiful jewelry, with the finest metals and gems, the most gorgeous gowns, and the most luxurious food. My love for you burns like a passionate flame, and I shall never treat you poorly."

"That is ENOUGH!"

Suddenly, a man in armor leaped onto the stage, in his early 40s, with dark brown hair and a sword in hand. It was the captain of the knights, Sir Gareth!

"I do not trust you, dark wizard. Your honeyed words and pleasant tone do not disguise the darkness in your heart from me. You will not have Princess Millia, I pledge on my life and honor as a knight!"

Millia stood behind the knight, face still brave, as Mizar simply sighed. "Tremendous display of bravado, sir knight, but I'm afraid that I'm not a person who takes 'no' for an answer."

Mizar clapped his hands, and his shadow, which had been leaning behind him from the sun's angle, suddenly spun around as if it had a mind of its own, growing and covering both Sir Gareth and Princess Millia's feet as they slowly sunk down. They struggled, but they could not escape the darkness.

"I shall return in a month, King Edmund. On Princess Millia's 18th birthday, specifically. You will prepare an extravagant wedding for the princess and me, and your best knight will be returned once it is over. This is not a request, this is a statement of fact." And then, Mizar, the princess, and Sir Gareth sunk into the shadows.

The dark clouds in the sky might have disappeared, but they were replaced with dark clouds in the hearts of the people. They had lost their kind and caring princess, and their most skilled and brave knight to a mysterious dark wizard.

*What did the people do?*

(More choice to come later, if maybe not a ton more-this is my first game, after all! That being said, my idea is that you get a primary choice of one companion for the Tower journey, which can vary depending on the companion's skillset opening small routes and detours-then, afterward, you head to Mizar's lair with your chosen first companion and a new one selected from a different set-and then partway through the lair journey you get a choice to a third, final companion from a third set, all culminating in a climatic showdown with Mizar at the end.

Also, no, Mizal, I didn't name the antagonist after you. Mizar is one of the stars in the Big Dipper.)

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago

I would suggest a beta reader.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
Just, like, in general, or specifically because of stuff? Because I do have Grammarly to correct my grammar and spelling and I made sure that there were no underlines on any lines in this when I wrote it up as my first chapter.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago

In general and specifically. We just so happen to be embroiled in a contest currently, so some people that are actually amazing at that stuff might be a bit busy, but I would ask around. 

Because some of the dialogue is honestly a bit stilted, unnatural, and exposition-ly. 

And I'm not sure if you want the villain to come off as cool or not like a Sephiroth. Because he instead comes off as an incel. Also, why would he want to return to the kingdom for a wedding coronation?

He's already kidnapped his underaged bride-to-be. 

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
This won't come up until later but Mizar is much older than he appears. So, yeah, he is kind of a creep. A powerful creep with hella dark magic, but a creep nonetheless. As for why he wants to make it official, part spectacle/pageantry, partially as a show of force.

But, I'm a patient fellow. I'll look around a bit here and there for a beta reader, but I'm perfectly fine waiting a bit for the contest to be over before I start doing major edits, I'm not that fast of a writer.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago

Oh, I would explore that aspect of his character. 

It could make him more memorable.

That and maybe investing in some world-building. Even something minor like naming the kingdom.

Although that's a more stylistic thing. I can get wanting to keep things simple for the reader. 

But, yes, I would be careful in making sure certain dialogue, and the events that might be happening in a scene, doesn’t come off as awkward or badly worded.

That's something that I struggle in as well.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
Actually fair point on naming the kingdom. Good call. I'll think something up.

And alright, I can go through some of the dialogue-I can already see kinda what you're talking about, especially Millia's bit about being told she can marry for love is kinda clunky. I don't intend for this to be a particularly lore/twist-heavy game, it's pulling from Shining In The Darkness quite a bit, but I should at least try to make it flow well and feel natural.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago

I had to google that. But I do see a bit of the inspiration now.

Good luck with any potential changes.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
>>>This won't come up until later but Mizar is much older than he appears. So, yeah, he is kind of a creep.

This read a lot differently before I zoomed my phone in.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
Honestly considering swapping his name to a different star in the Big Dipper just to avoid confusing you or people who know you. I've got a decent set of options-star names tend to sound like wizard names, honestly. Merak, Dubhe, Phecda, Megrez, Alioth or Alkaid.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago

It's between Alioth and Alkaid for me.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
BROAD OVERARCHING STRUCTURE PLANS:

This game will be divided into three 'acts'.

Act 1 will follow our hero, and their chosen friend, as they brave the trials of the Tower of the Dragon in search of the amulet.
Our hero will have a choice of 2 companions for this segment of the quest.
-Morgan, Althion's apprentice and a mage-in-training. He is intelligent and thoughtful, if shy and reserved. His skills include translations of ancient runes as well as a few 'utility' spells such as speaking to animals and illuminating dark areas.
-Carla, a servant in the castle with a talent for snooping and hiding. She's a 'rogue' in the broadest sense of the term-her skills include excellent hearing, a nose for a conversation's undercurrents and subtext, as well as knowledge of a secret code she and Millia made up, which Millia has left clues in the later sections of the game in.

Act 2 follows the first half of the raid on our dark wizard's lair. This segment has more combat than the tower-I don't intend to code up an HP/battle system, battles are just going to basically be puzzles involving finding out an enemy's weakness or the right tactic from their behavior and style, or recalling something you learned earlier.
After proving their right to challenge the dark wizard and use the amulet for good, a proper adult joins the team, one of two options:
-Althion himself. Althion is much more skilled in runic translation than Morgan is, and his knowledge of magic will undoubtedly help with the wizard's magic traps and stopping his side schemes. Plus, he'll help tutor you on how to use the amulet's magic yourself.
-Gareth's second-in-command, Luitenant Olivia. Olivia is a strong warrior who will make physical confrontations much easier to handle, and while she might not be as learned as Althion, she's got a good head on her shoulders and her gut instincts are hardly ever wrong.

Act 3 is the finale, obviously. At this point, the party has worked their way through the lair's 'living' spaces, the places where our wizard eats and sleeps and rests and reads. This part of the lair, meanwhile, is where Millia is held captive, among others, and where he experiments and studies magic. Insidious traps, horrible monsters, and dastardly puzzles all rest here. Thankfully, in freeing the more general prison somewhat early on, the party finds one last compatriot from a faraway land:
-Konrad, a wolf-man paladin from the northern Theocracy of Winterbright. Hrothgar is stalwart and loyal, with an iron will that can resist even a dark wizard's aura of gloom and fear. He's also got beastly strength and great skill with his sword.
-Ryutaro, a ninja from the eastern Hinode Kingdom. Ryutaro is skilled at blending in with the shadows to strike, with honed senses for small details. He has no supernatural abilities, but he's got an assortment of tools that can help, as well.

Broadly, this means that there are 8 paths: 2^3. Certain companions have more to say in specific rooms, give more hints to specific puzzles or encounters, or sometimes offer an alternate solution, but you do stick to the same broad path. This is my first game, after all!

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago

Sounds like a lot of moving parts.

Many a time has there been someone whose bit off more than they could chew for their first story-game. 

With my first story that's still unpublished, I had to take it down because I wasn’t happy with the result. I had planned two paths with two perspectives, before having both paths reconvene in the present, but through two different perspectives, depending on whose path you chose first. 

But then I soon learned that I would have to make a different cast of side characters for both to interact and play off of with. And ultimately one path had to be cut completely and many scenes as well for both. Before one path was done away with completely.

Sometimes it's better to do something simple at first, unless you have the confidence to do so. And sometimes confidence isn’t the sole thing that a writer needs to complete their work.

And a story like this sounds like it would need the assistance of advanced editor, as well as variables to make it work. I dunno, maybe something like this could be done using a regular editor as well, but 8 paths, different acts, different companions for these acts? With some of these different companions having unique dialogue in certain rooms? That's a lot of different variables to be accounted for. 

But there have been first stories that are honestly as good as any featured story of a seasoned author, done by a new writer. So I won’t say it cannot be done, but the work won’t be easy, I think. 

But there's an advanced editor forum just for asking for advice on the technical side of things like that.

So, I suppose you can keep that in mind if you still want to keep some ideas, or all, for this story.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
The key thing is:

1. Lots of overlap between routes
2. Being fairly linear in terms of things to do.

Althion might have more dialogue with Morgan in the route where you go Morgan -> Althion compared to Carla -> Althion, but Althion's puzzle hints and general dialogue does stay broadly the same. I'm actually planning on copy-and-pasting sections from some routes onto others, at least in terms of broad area descriptions.

And for the most part, these dungeon crawls won't really have a lot of paths in and of themselves. Any additions a specific companion might give will be additions rather than divergences: A small room Carla discovers with some extra lore or an early clue to a later puzzle, a translated rune sign from Morgan might provide some foreshadowing, but for the most part that will be added, then you'll go right into the same path-if you had the other companion you might get something alternate, or maybe nothing at all because they'd don't have the skills to access it.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
Also, no item management, HP or combat system. Only variables are binary things that track which companions you have.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
Just realized that I changed my mind mid-post with Hrothgar's name but didn't catch me calling him Konrad initially lol. Eh, you make mistakes, you get replies and then you have to correct them in another post later, c'est la vie.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
I would heed Thara's advice and the advice of others as much as possible. Good luck with your project.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
I have some thoughts, but I'll have to put together any feedback on this when I'm not scrambling to put together a contest entry.

Or if you're planning a rewritten sample based on any other comments, I'll wait on that.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
Definitely planning at least a few rewrites: I do see how the dialogue could come across as clunky, certainly. Plus, kingdom name, maybe some extra flavor, and possibly having the actual protag be a part of it to be added.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
REWORKED OPENING CHAPTER:

--------------------------------------

People couldn't decide if there was an ill omen that could have predicted the events of that day, or if it started like any other. Maybe the wind was a touch colder than it should be for such a nice spring day. Maybe animals seemed to be on edge for some unseen reason.

But the day went on, especially when there was a parade to happen.

It was the anniversary of the founding of the Kingdom of Eventide by its first ruler some 300 years ago, and the royal family was going to parade through the streets, along with an entourage of knights for protection, and several acrobats, jesters, dancers, musicians, and much more. Families planned big meals later in the day to enjoy, children would play games in the streets, and it would be a fun day for all, much like it always was.

And it started out much like those previous years. Firstly, the entertainers of the group started out the parade in advance, dancing and playing music and entertaining the people standing roadside. Then, knights on horseback would begin their advance, followed directly by a float holding the royal family: King Edmund, his wife Queen Beatrice, and the crown princess, Millia.

Behind them were more knights, and then those whose job it was to clean up the aftermath of the parade, from the confetti to the droppings of the horses.

The parade was halfway underway when tragedy struck. At first, the sky simply darkened, and people worried it might have to stop midway through because of rain.

If only that was what happened.

As the sky drew darker, thunder began to clap, and then suddenly... HE appeared.

It felt like lightning struck the float itself, and in a way it did, the way he appeared in a flash of light and sound.

On the float, a figure appeared. A black cloak enrobed him, with the one thing breaking it up being some sort of necklace or amulet around his neck-a gold one with a large ruby in the center of it. The figure spoke, with a strangely soft voice, though still an obviously masculine one.

"Good morning, King Edmund. My name is Alkaid. I am a wizard of some power and knowledge, come here with an... offer of sorts, to you and your kingdom." Alkaid held up a hand, and the storm froze as if time had stopped. The clouds still hung darkly above, but the wind and thunder disappeared. Then, he pulled back his cloak's hood, revealing his face.

It was a handsome face and a young one. His dark hair was cut short, and he had a smile that, on the surface, seemed calm and friendly.

But it didn't reach his eyes. His eyes were red much like his ruby amulet, and you could see malice and dark determination inside of them, no matter how friendly he tried to make himself appear with his tone of voice and his smile. King Edmund stood up and stepped forward, looking serious.

"Guards, seize this man!"

Alkaid sighed and then snapped his fingers. The guards around the float who had been scrambling to climb up to the stage froze in place, twitching and trying their best to move but were unable to, as though they were paralyzed.

"I am not your enemy, King Edmund. I am sorry that I have gotten off on the wrong foot. But I assure you, I have nothing but your best interests in mind. Just hear my proposal out, and I can assure you, nothing worse will happen than your guard getting some slight cramping."

King Edmund bit his lip and then nodded. "What is this proposal you have in mind?"

"You see, I am aware of this kingdom's history. About the great magic power that your ancestor gained via his pact with the Spirit Lord. The power that has appeared on and off through his descendants has guided this kingdom to prosperity. That now appears, almost as strong as the original form, in your daughter."

It was no great secret that Millia was in possession of magical abilities: in addition to being tutored in conventional subjects like history and mathematics, Millia was also receiving tutoring from the court wizard Althion, in order to learn to control her talents. She had hoped to eventually use these talents, once she became Queen, to make life easier for her subjects: bringing good weather in to help crops grow, healing the sick, and other such feats.

"My request is rather simple... I wish to study the princess's powers. By understanding the nature of the pact, and the powers it grants, the study of magic will be set forward by years. Perhaps the effects could be replicated, or enhanced. I promise to share my research with you first, of course. I would even assist you in using this magic. Just imagine the potential! You could conquer your neighbors, rule over Winterbright and Hinode, and then spread your domain even further!"

"...and what makes you think that I would enjoy such a thing? I have good relations with Winterbright and Hinode." Edmund remained stalwart and cool-headed as he addressed the wizard.

"Every king desires power. It's simply a nature of the position." Alkaid said with a slightly bemused air as if he knew some joke that Edmund didn't. Alkaid looked at the fingernails of his right hand idly, almost bored when suddenly there was a bright flash, and two figures appeared by Edmund's side: Althion, the court wizard, and Gareth, the captain of the guard.

"I can sense your aura, 'young' man, and your soul is as black as pitch." Althion's voice was calm and measured but hid angry steel, as the middle aged-wizard lifted his staff towards Alkaid. Gareth drew his sword and advanced slowly. "Besides, the king already has a wizard. Unless you had forgotten about me in all your research?"

Alkaid sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I had truly hoped to get this over with quickly and peacefully, but you've forced my hand." Alkaid stamped one foot on the ground and shadows stretched out from underneath his cloak, covering the ground with speed. One slid its way to Millia's chair, and as she tried to get up, dark hands clamped onto her legs, holding her in place. A second shadow did much the same to Gareth, and others attempted to slide their way to the King, Queen, and Althion, but he tapped his staff on the ground quickly and a yellow circle quickly surrounded the three, blocking the shadows.

"I will be taking the captain as... insurance. If all goes well with my research, the princess and the captain will be returned safe and sound. So, please, do not disturb me." Alkaid stamped again, and he and his two prisoners sank into their shadowy holes, slowly. Althion reached out, attempting some kind of spell, but Alkaid seemed to deflect or disarm it with a wave of his hand.

Gareth screamed out: "Alkaid, I will have your head, I swear!"

Meanwhile, Millia, kind and compassionate as she was, let out a plea: "I have faith in you all, my subjects. Faith that good will triumph over evil. Be strong in my absence!"

And then, in an instant, the three disappeared.

The dark clouds in the sky might have disappeared, but they were replaced with dark clouds in the hearts of the people. They had lost their kind and caring princess, and their most skilled and brave knight to a mysterious dark wizard. Something had to be done.

------------------------------

In turning Mizar into Alkaid, I shifted his motivations away from wanting a bride and powerful, magically adept children to a more general Evil Research vibe. I have Althion intervene earlier, as well.

Now that the contest is over, hopefully more people are free to critique.

Tower of the Dragon

11 months ago
I think the change in motivation is good, it gives you the option to explore magical experiments in the lair, show what progress the wizard has made (or failed to make) in the (short?) time he had the princess.

Alkaid wasn't actually too clear on what he hopes to accomplish, advancing the study of magic by years is good and all, but what does it actually mean? He frames it around helping the king conquer his neighbours, but it is safe to assume he has his own plans too.

The ruby, the pact, even Winterbright and Hinode are all elements that could be explored more in future sections (among other things). I'm already wondering if the ruby amulet is the evil version of the dragon one. Speaking of, will there be a dragon in this story?

But I don't expect you to make more revisions. Maybe if you get ideas as you write more, but for now I think the best thing would be to start writing those acts.


It is good that you've planned ahead, having a structure in mind can help make sure you're always moving towards the next act / ending.

Having a lot of overlap for a companions story is probably one of the better ways to handle it. There are still challenges, how much do you reference the characters? The more you reference them the more 'new' content you need to write, and integrating it with the re-used elements can be tedious, but the character stuff is the main appeal behind a story where you pick the companions -- you want to see the companions!

If you track something else with a variable, consider how interesting/important it is. The companions would obviously be a major thing, but not every obstacles outcome will need to come up again. Keeping things simple where you can helps ensure you actually finish (and you technically can always go back to add a tracking variable, if you need to).


I do the like the idea of a companions story, structuring them around a journey/adventure is where I've had the most success (not that I've had much success tho, lol). Would be neat to see how it all comes together. There's a lot of potential here, so don't get overwhelmed!

(Cut the last set of characters if things get difficult, hehe).