2012 06 Oct

Storytelling #1: Bringing your party to life

Categories: General

We’ve planned to post more informations regarding the combat system and the world map. But lately we were busy with adding story elements into Chaos Chronicles and by doing this we now want to share our thoughts about storytelling in a party-based CRPG. Needless to say, we will deliver the above mentioned content at a later date.

If you remember the first entries of this blog there was something in there about most modern RPGs telling the tale of a single character. The player is the hero etc. Often with the results that if it is a party based RPG the other characters in your party have their own personalities. It’s rather you going on an adventure and meeting up with other characters that join you. On the one hand that is of course a good way to create immersion and pull you into both the game’s world as well as its storyline. On the other it is a very linear way of telling a story that resembles the way stories are told in other media as books or film much more than the kind of story you got away from when playing some of those old-school RPGs we have been rambling about in this blog.

It may be debatable if there is a definite way of telling a story in a game or if there are several but this is not what’s we want to talk about here. We rather want you to understand why we thought it might be interesting to choose one way of storytelling over another.







First of all let’s get back to the other side of the coin – so not the UltimaBaldur’s Gate or Dragon Age way of storytelling (you, the hero making friends) but rather the Phantasie and Pool of Radiance way of storytelling (your party on its journey). As a kid with a wild imagination it was hard not to bring those creations to live while playing. Even though each character pretty much was only a listing of values that you attached a name and – in the case of Pool of Radiance - a head and a torso to you couldn’t help but fill in all the blanks on the character.

The more sophisticated games have gotten over the last decades the more they actually take that from you and stage the experience. Ever played Fallout? The first one? Ever tried to create a character with very low intelligence? Imagine the thoughts and work the developers must have put into the game to make all of that work out and provide such a unique experience. Or all the banter going on in a game like Baldur’s Gate between the characters commenting the current situation. While these are definitely cool things it was also very cool to imagine the same things going in your own fantasy. Maybe all the pen & paper roleplaying as kids got into our heads but while exploring a sewer you could easily imagine the elf complaining about the smell. Little things but memories we are fond of.

The whole thing did get even more dramatic considering your characters could die and sometimes had to be replaced. Overall the experience that formed in your head was much more similar to reading a book than imagining yourself playing a role in the story.