Thursday, 3 January 2013


Legacy is a project I have been working on for quite a while now, what is interesting (to me at least) is that it isn't the gameplay that makes this project memorable for me, it is actually the characters, moreso than the plot or game mechanics.

One of my aims for Legacy was to experiment with characters in an attempt to make more them more memorable; as a result of this I would test myself by waiting a few days and see if I could remember the name and character's overall personality and defining features. If I couldn't, then I obviously didn't do a very good job of making it memorable, and would tweak it again and repeat the process.

It is important to test not only the game mechanics themselves, but the impact of the game and characters on its audience; and let's not for get that you can use yourself as a guinea pig for this.

I started the design process with a vague idea of what I wanted. From my design document:

3 Generations:
  • Ancestor
  • Parent
  • Child

Each Generation Contributes to their legacy, their heirlooms, and an overall plot.
Something about a family's secret war against some specific evil force
Probably two childhood friends or two rival families
Should include a central bloodline weapon
Order of the Sleeping Dragon?

Needs an awesome item crafting system:

Unfortunately, because of the way I did this design, it was much more intended for my eyes only, so I will have to walk you through it as we go. From this basic idea, I started making up the cast. I generally start each character with a nickname - an identifier that describes their overall self in place of the name I haven't given them yet. I started off with Delinquent and Glasses-chan. Any post-design notes I have added in [italicized square brackets].
Delinquent's Parents:
Master Warriors
Father sealed a demon within himself [Sammael]
-demon grants superhuman strength, but takes control of the target's body
Mother is in hiding [Lilith]
Father was exceptionally powerful and reckless, willingly let the demon inhabit him, believing he could control it.

Was successful for a while, but has since lost control to the demon.

Glasses-Chan's Parents:
Archeologist (male) [Nigel]
Swordmaster (female) [Diamond]
Father travels the world, often accompanied by GC [Glasses-chan]
Mother runs a small dojo, she is skilled, but has never attained much prestige because she is a woman
-doesn't really want prestige because of the undesirable attention it would draw
Has unusually high numbers of female students
Father knows about the Sleeping Dragon Clan, and is looking for their legacy weapon

Delinquent – Deacon
Conceived after the possession of his father, his father left during the course of the pregnancy because he felt the demon fighting back and didn't want to endanger his wife or child.

Has inherited some demonic strength and other attributes. He is a delinquent, and while he technically lives with his mother, he usually just wanders. He is fairly cynical and antisocial, having grown up as something of an outcast among the gypsy children he grew up with.

Glasses Chan – Rayne
A disciplined sword fighter ready to take over for her mother
Studious and rigid; bossy
Strict about rules, and has the presence to enforce them
Met Deacon when she was trying to bully him into obedience, he was able to defy her
They quickly became rivals and eventually became friends
Smart and well-travelled
The Demon
Possesses his targets, uses their strength and abilities
Switches bodies when the last one dies
Will commit suicide to switch to a new body
Increases the strength of those he possesses
Has his own demonic abilities
Is weak to silver
The subject's eyes change to yellow; and they glow when exerting demonic powers. 
That is the primary cast of the Parent and Child generations. It is not the complete cast, even of those generations. I am walking you through the game as I created it, so things might jump around a little; which is fine, as things rarely proceed in a strictly linear format when designing. This article is borderline stream-of-consciousness, but I will post an additional article of the compiled design afterwards in a format more akin to the others I have posted already.

Magic is done differently in that humans cannot directly cast magical spells; they must instead rely on the use of magical items and scrolls. (Note that Deacon is not human)
Scrolls are fairly straight forward, they are single use items. They are fairly cheap, and you can even make your own with the required materials and skills.
Not anyone can use magic though, a character must have the appropriate skills and/or training in order to cast a spell, even with a scroll 
Demonic Magic
Demons are creatures of the ether, and as such can cast magic spells unaided.

There are two types of spells for a demon; blood spells and learned spells.
Learned spells are learned the same way humans do, and can be fuelled by either mana or by exhausting scrolls or items.
Blood spells are innate, and are learned automatically as a demon matures and grows stronger. They are always fueled by mana. <Note that demons have Mana while humans do not>

These were a guideline for the mechanics, however as I stated above, the mechanics are not the focus of this game; I have left them in here however, because they do have some interaction with the plots; speaking of which:

Plot – Ancestor 
The story ultimately starts 130 years ago, with the legendary Forgemaster Draco Dormien and the founding of the Sleeping Dragon Clan.

Originally just a small band of adventurers, their culminating moment would come when they are handed a huge amount of money from the King and asked to neutralize a particularly dangerous demon.

The demon's identity should be obvious. In order to bring it down, they realize they cannot kill it, lest they end up possessed, and instead decide to seal its powers so that it will not terrorize the countryside.

With the aid of a priestess, they were able to seal the demon within a special shrine. They proceed to collect their fee from the king and evolved from a band of adventurers into an elite monster-hunting clan, named the Sleeping Dragons Clan.

Ancestor Party – forgemaster, enchanter, priestess

Plot – Parents
The plot for the next generation of adventurers begins with an ill-fated expedition of Nigel's (GC's dad).
They are excavating an area of historical shrines that had been buried under a rock-slide many years ago. During the course of this, they uncover the Demon's shrine, and one of the workers is possessed by it, its sealing powers diminished by time and due to damage from the landslide.
Nigel, being a well-studied individual, recognizes the demon and casts a tracking spell on it before allowing it to run off into the wild. (note: i'm picturing a scene where you have to command workers to brace doors and hold off the demon while preparing the spell; set in a dark scary cave that looks vaguely like a mine)
<please note that most of the rest of this plot was written with a cynical tone, forgive it, as it's better than nothing> [I occasionally do things like this, because it is better to get it down then spend hours fiddling over making it sound "right" and accomplishing nothing]
After this, Nigel returns to Diamond and reiterates what happened, and the two of them vow to stop the demon. However the two of them realize that they are completely incapable of stopping the demon, and they choose to ally themselves with the foremost monster hunting organization of the time, (you guessed it) the Sleeping Dragons Clan.
Who should they receive as allies but Sammael and Lilith, a warrior and assassin respectively. Sammael is in fact a direct descendant of one of the clan's founders that originally trapped the demon, and he feels a certain obligation to help them out, recognizing the historical significance this demon plays to his clan, he agrees to wave the ordinarily exorbitant fee and lend them a helping broadsword. His better half, Lilith, tags along with him and the two couples follow Nigel's beacon off into the horizon.
Apparently, the Demon has been busy, and since his escape into the great blue yonder, he has exploited his immortality and taken control of a local gang, who in turn have taken control of the entirety of a small county. He is taxing the locals to death in order to fund a war band to get back at the Sleeping Dragons. His plans from there probably consist of ruling the world, as there would be basically no one left to oppose him (having taken out the greatest threat to him), but they aren't terribly relevant as they never come to fruition.
Our four heroes arrive in his county, and surmise the aforementioned scenario by talking with the locals, and after beating up a few gangsters, they head onward to the centre of the Demon's domain. They see the forces arising, and try to avoid them largely, counting on the demise of their beloved leader to lead to devastating infighting. Anyways, they sneak their merry asses into the Demon's inner sanctum, and fail in their initial attempt to seal the demon away again, when Sammael has the brilliant idea of being deliberately possessed by the demon and sealing it within himself. He clears everyone else out, lest they be possessed instead of him, and proceeds to fight the already wounded demon and kill him. The demon possesses him, but due to a number of pre-arranged magical seals and the sheer power radiating from his manly abdominal muscles, the demon is contained.

I have written a good deal of plot for the Children's generation, but it is actually very long, and will be posted in a separate article. I will continue here with additional design information. Having the plots largely in hand, I focussed a bit more on the characters:

Forgemaster – Draco Dormien
Enchantress - Felecia
Priestess - Sakura
Archaeologist - Nigel
Swordmaster - Diamond
(Possessed) Warrior – Sammael (Deacon's Dad)
(Gypsy) Assassin – Lilith (Deacon's Mom)
Glasses Chan – Rayne
Delinquent – Deacon
Demon - ???
Monk Shrine Guard – Odis (aka Sido) <In Children's plot>
Clan Officer - Adamas Dormien <In Children's plot>
Weapons: Bow, Charms, Staves
Magic: Healing, Sealing, Holy
Colours: White, Red
A righteous priestess whose motivation lies in protecting the locals from the terrors of the Demon. 
Weapons: Magic
Magic: Various
Colours: Green Gold
A greedy magic user whose motivation comes from loyalty to Draco and the shiny rewards.

I again, started with nicknames, and put down names as I came up with them. I added information about the Enchantress and Priestess, who have no real character development anywhere else. I also want to add, that the Enchantress is greedy, but ultimately good-natured, along the lines of Nami.

I also want to note that Lilith (Deacon's mom) poses as a gypsy in order to hide her identity, so that she can raise Deacon in peace. Deacon is unaware of her abilities until later on.

Designer's Notes
The Legacy weapon will be forged by the player
Currency will likely be metal coins and gems, which have weight, and can be used in forging weapons.
Deacon has to face his father in single combat and kill him. Because he is part-demon, he cannot be possessed, and that is the only way to beat the demon.
Think 'Bronze Age' in terms of technology
I liked the idea of the Bronze age; it makes it easy to use metal as both a currency and means of forging weapons and armour (that does not feel tacked on). It also keeps Iron largely out of the picture, as Iron is very strong, and not very valuable, which kind of defeats the viability of using any other metal. I am instead using Iron as strictly Meteoric Iron, and therefore extremely valuable, to fit in with its strength.

I have many pages of notes on the mechanics of this game, but they are completely untested and therefore not worth the space they would take up on the page. I will instead give a few highlights of the more interesting (and experimental) concepts:

Damage System
damage works like so:

damage is multiplied by the number of hits the target has taken;
first hit – 1x damage
second hit – 2x damage (3)
third hit – 3x damage (6)
fourth hit – 4x damage (10)
et cetera.
This applies for you as well as against you.

Weapons have radically ranging attack damage which is generally fairly low;
eg. D6, D10, 2D6, D6+1, or something like that depending on the weapon's class.

This will be modified by what the weapon is made of;
Iron is strong and gives significant bonus (+2)
-Note that Iron is extremely rare and valuable, and prone to oxidization.
Bronze is strong and gives a bonus (+1)
Gold and other weak metals have penalties instead (-1)
Note that this bonus is applied per dice rolled for damage.
I think that this makes for a strongly skill-based system, as even if you have an enormous amount of hit points, they will disappear extremely quickly if you allow large combos to work against you, as the damage from a combo scales triangularly.

Hits are usually animated as being blocked, parried, or dodged. Your total HP is an indication of your energy and therefore the ability to make these blocks.

+Having a shield radically increases your health, by percentile.

Wounding hits occur when a hit (after applying multiplier) would reduce you to 0 HP or less. The multiplier is not applied, but instead the target gains a WOUNDED status effect (and still takes regular damage). A character can be wounded multiple times. Note that being wounded breaks a combo against you.

Being wounded is not a good thing. It reduces your Strength, and costs you HP over time. (Some creatures can track wounded individuals, and would be more likely to attack if you have wounded members in your party.) (Some spells and abilities can only target wounded characters)
 The largest facet that I have left unmentioned is the Legacy weapon itself. It is forged by Draco Dormien in the Ancestor storyline, and is passed down through the game to the Children's storyline. There is to be a forging system to let you craft and customize your weapons and armour, and the pinnacle of your creations from the first generation will be passed down to the last. The details of this system I am not currently happy with, and therefore won't bother publishing; as a generality though, the metals used for currency are melted down and forged into items and then enchanted.

The Children's plot will follow in a future post; until then,

-Colin Souva

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