Oresteia Twine Game

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This was my first experiment with Twine and a choice-driven narrative.
Since it was a first try, I wanted to rewrite something that already existed in another medium (the Oresteia) and I thought Greek tragedy was a good candidate. In the best Greek tragedies (most notably Oedipus), you feel an oppressive sense that the characters have NO control, no choice that would save them. I thought this would be fun to try express in a medium that is all ABOUT choice!
Ancient Greek plays are famously unfair: the narrative rarely has any interest in showing why a character deserved their tragic fate (or, sometimes, our morals are so distant from the Ancient Greeks that the playwright’s attempt to do so backfires). I take this to be part of what makes Ancient Greek plays worth reading! In a modern world vibrant with moral black and whites, it’s startling to enter a story that is dismally, amorally, grey — there is no good or evil, just victims and witnesses. The characters suffer because that is just what it means to be human: to strive, make the best decisions we can, and still be haunted by them.
That pessimism is what I thought would really come to life in a game. I strove in this Twine game to give the player powerful choices, to really empower you to save Orestes (which it is possible to do! there is a “good ending”!), but to see those choices come, again and again, to naught. Not because you made the wrong choice, but because some situations lie beyond solution.
Let us hope we encounter them only in fiction.

In progress notes: This is v.1, so all the endings are live but the rest is still very much under construction. Right now, I’m planning on re-writing the dialogue to be more conversational and adding more dialogue choice to the middle of the game.

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  • Atlantis, A Player’s Guide

    A player’s guide to a custom Dungeons and Dragons setting I’ve been writing: sort of an Ancient Greek/Science-Fiction/Fantasy mash-up. Ancient Greek Gundams, Communist Dwarves, and extraterrestrial Israelites abound!

    Okay, yes, that’s a bizarre combination. No, I haven’t lost my mind (well, not recently); there is a method to this madness!

    I wanted to run a game where the players had a lot of control over the aesthetic of the world: realistic, traditional fantasy, science-fictional, etc. My solution was to create a charming, but undramatic, world (“Inciting Incident”? bah to that!) and allow the players to define the central conflict themselves. Perhaps they’re the first to discover magic, the first to make some technological breakthrough or the first to radically change the political landscape.

    This guide introduces the Mariners, effectively an adventurer’s guild for every walk of life: soldiers, scientists, priests, politicians, farmers, and so forth. Players make a Mariner and choose their qualifying accomplishment and a personal goal they had to surrender to join. These choices enable the DM to create an adventure where the players commit the Inciting Incident.

    In any case, this is still very much a work in progress, but you may enjoy perusing it anyway (or, be forced to, if you’re one of my players :P). Sharing your thoughts and feedback is also very very appreciated. You can download it below or see it online at the source.

    Current Revision Goal: Right now, my main goal is to get the word count down and add more reference art. After that, I may start reorganizing to highlight the good bits… when I find some.


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    A Villain’s Backstory

    I wrapped up running a very long Dungeons and Dragons campaign last week. It’s been two years with the same characters, the same story, and the same goddamn unbearable amazing players.

    For the epic finale, I wanted an engaging villain who would be more than just a hit point balloon- that would engage the players in roleplay, not just rollplay. Sadly, the adventure’s prefabricated villain wasn’t quite up to snuff. Azarr Kul, from the classic Red Hand of Doom third edition adventure, isn’t a bad villain but he’s not that complicated (think Napoleon, but he’s half dragon and worships Satan).

    So I rewrote him. I kept the canon consistent, he still did all the things Dragon Napoleon did, but I wrote a backstory for him based on an incredible short story (find it free to read or listen to here) by Scott Sigler. The original story has an incredible economy of language: the paragraphs are tight, the sentences always moving the action forward. You almost feel out of breath reading it. I loved it so much, I wanted to try imitating Sigler’s style and story- so I wrote a short little origin story for the new and improved Azarr Kul.

    If I did this right, it should stand alone as a mediocre (if unoriginal) piece of fiction. Enjoy (but probably not):

    Coughing into the moonlit smoke around him, Angel was aware only of his fear. His eyes watered, but he could still hear. Shouting, marching, the crackle of houses burning, and, still distant, screams. The entire village was on fire.

    Angel turned away from the chaos outside his home, but his mother held him at the threshold. He wanted to run behind her, hide his juvenile body behind her height. But she held him fast.

    “Let go of him! We have to go and find Hector!” cried Angel’s grandfather, already peering into the fire and dark surrounding their home.

    Angel’s mother would let neither of them pass. She breathed slowly, in rhythm with the pulsing light of the fires.

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