WIP Astral Falls

Discussion in 'Works in Progress' started by Yuli Ban, Oct 14, 2017.

  1. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    My NaNoWriMo entry and my first of three LitRPG/GameLit stories. This one's decidedly safely LitRPG.

    The subreddit's already up and has been for a full year, but the story as it was at the time was a lot less coherent compared to what it is now.
    Astral Falls is the official title, but if you want to feel like you're part of an exclusive club, remember the alternative title, The World Will Love Again. I'll have that line somewhere deep inside the story.

    Plotting's already underway, and I'm planning on doing vignettes. Well, I'm lying there— I've been doing vignettes for this story for five years now, but to write it as a proper LitRPG story means that it's finally coming into its own.

    Word Count: 0

    In the meantime, I might as well talk about the story ideas, characters, and mechanics. I'll do that as I go along. But to give you a good idea right off the bat, take this game...
    [​IMG]


    .... and add fantasy races and a much different, more Tron-esque city. Not exactly Shadowrun, but perhaps something roughly approaching it.
     
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  2. DJ Schinhofen

    DJ Schinhofen Creator of Worlds. Roleplaying LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    I'll read it when you put it out there.
     
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  3. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Overarching plot as it stands on 14/10/2017:
    Screw that. It's janky, I mean— that computer chair. Just screw that so it firms up and doesn't wobble. Also, forget about the plot for just a moment.

    How do the game aspects work?

    Like I said, it's based heavily on The World Ends With You (which is already tangentially related to the mechanics of Kingdom Hearts with the gimmick of Challenge Anneka). The most blatantly obvious aspect of this is the fact that every player character requires a Sync partner. They can do battle and engage in puzzles on their own, up until a certain point in the hidden tutorial prologue when they absolutely cannot progress without utilizing each other's abilities.

    Battles: not turn-based. This was always going to be the case, and I understand that it may be a risky decision for a first LitRPG novel. Other Players will be coming after you, so knowing possible races and classes and skills is necessary for survival.

    Capabilities: you can collect items and loot, purchase more loot, and whatnot, all the get better items and/or positively or negatively influence the gameworld.

    Sync partner: Two parties have to consent to become each others' Sync. Once that happens, that bond cannot be broken. If one dies, both die. Your Sync partner is the only other person you can trust in the game, which makes it difficult if you can't bring yourself to trust them.

    Classes: somewhat standard, except that you cannot choose yours until after you meet your Sync partner. You both can't have the same class, but it doesn't matter which one the other chooses. They all complement each other in some way, and they all can exploit each others' weaknesses.

    Races: also standard (for both fantasy and sci-fi), though there is one perk that applies to both MCs, an automatic subclass if you will that grants them a unique native ability. There's an explanation in story and in-game for why they have this perk. It's also a plot point as to why both were allowed to have this perk if Sync partners have to have separate abilities. I should probably mention something else, but I figured I'd let the story explain it instead.

    Weapons: standard, though some classes don't need them. And if you don't allocate your skills towards weaponry, you won't be proficient anyhow.

    Exploration: free-flowing. Random encounters are something that happen more towards the end of the story. Because of the nature of this particular story, the main characters choose to become proficient in parkour, which means that exploration proceeds a bit differently. Exploration via parkour can proceed in more differently if one maxes out magic, augments, and native abilities.

    Ability to run away from battles: Almost always, except for certain battles.

    Skill trees: you can always add XP points to certain skills, but unlike the traditional set-up where it costs more points when you're closer to maxing out one skill, the skills you choose to not put points into slowly begin to close themselves off before eventually locking you out of putting points into them completely, sort of like how not learning or applying yourself to something can close off neural connections. This can be like retroactive punishment for going all in with one skill and ignoring the others since there are instances where just about every skill could come in handy. But remember, you have a Sync partner. On that note, the trees are somewhat standard. Some of it is behind magicka; some others are behind cybernetics; some are purely physical.

    Dialog trees: Not always open, but there are choices at times. And as usual, your skills and history can affect what choices there are or how many are available.

    Leveling up: Pretty bog-standard. Get more XP, you can level up. Beware grinding!

    Cheats: They do exist, and that's all I'll say about that. If you're caught cheating, though, you'd better hope you have the following, or else you're doomed...

    New Game+: That also exists, but if there's any spoiler I'll give, the characters don't get the chance to reach it in the first book. This is what grants you the ability to survive cheating, for one, but as we all know, playing through a game a second time can allow you to do things you couldn't before. Such as... Well, I'll work it out.

    DLC: This isn't part of the story; it's just a (n expensive) joke. I figured that, if this book is successful (hell, even if it isn't), I'll charge readers for some 'DLC'— aka, a shorter book/anthology (read: 10,000 to 20,000 words long) of extra content like an expansion of the lore, another Player's perspective during an event, the MCs getting a special upgrade or weapon or gag cosmetic to use, etc. The Season Pass will be subscribing to my newsletter. And it's free!
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
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  4. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Storyline, as it is now, in laconic terms:


    In real life: The world is ending. How is not important to this description. A high elf from another dimension appears and she has a special offer— beat her game and she'll whisk them off to her "wonderful world of magic", which is apparently a standard fantasy world. You have six months to beat it. The world will end on the 4th of July. This book takes place over the course of one month— December.
    There's several twists to this story, of course (one of which is already obvious to those who have played TWEWY).
    The main characters don't know who each other are, but they think they may have vaguely known each other. It's amnesia again, folks.
    Also, as another spoiler, after hopping over to our world, that aforementioned high elf read George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, watched a whole bunch of World War II documentaries, and realized that she was, is, and always will be a totalitarian at heart and wants to bring that back to her own world. If you've ever played Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, you know that this is not good times.

    In the game world: it's a different world that only somewhat resembles real-life if it were fast-forwarded several decades (which will be explained). Fantasy races exist, as do "wraiths" of various varieties. There are Players and Seekers. Seekers are a higher caste than Players because their job is literally to find the Players and kill them. If they fail, they'll be destroyed. Players have to survive to the next day. If they survive long enough, they'll win escape to another realm and live on.
    The game world follows video game logic. Particularly action-RPG logic. And while there are challenges for the Players to complete, the Seekers do their best to stop them from completing these challenges. Also, Players who complete the challenges earn bigger bonuses than those who simply coast to the next day, which helps them out with getting higher XP and thus a greater chance of winning the game. Thus, while it's not explicitly encouraged, it's not discouraged either for the Players to attack and try to kill each other. At the same time, wouldn't it be beneficial for Players to team up? Hmmm...

    I may say more or less later, but I really don't want to spoil anything more.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017
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  5. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Wow, I can't believe how much this story has changed all thanks to some concentrated focus on fleshing it out. I decided to treat nothing as sacred. Everything could be chopped up and tossed. The basics haven't changed much, but I've done a lot more work on the backstory. I also discovered, through constantly stopping myself and asking myself "why?", that a lot of things didn't have solid reasons before now. So that's been fixed.

    And the lead characters are also much more fleshed out. Everyone's more fleshed out, but especially the lead characters. That's always been my problem— I create characters and I create settings and I create scenes, but I don't really create stories until I start asking "why are these characters doing these things?"

    It's gotten to the point where I'm actually concerned about all this now. There's just so much character wankery that I fear it'll get in the way of gameplay. But a magical thing is happening— now that I'm refining and defining the world, characters, and mechanics, a lot of those scenes I've had in my head for close to a decade actually make sense now. So while a few scenes probably can't happen without some string-pulling by God, it's surprising how much of the rest of the story still fits and even organically grows out from what I have.


    My only fear is pacing. We're four days away from the start of NaNoWriMo and I'm still struggling to figure out whether or not this coming story will take place over the course of one week, two weeks, or the full month. This will determine what Astral Falls 2 will be like, whether it's Week 2, the second two and a half weeks, or January with New Game+. Right now, I'm leaning towards it taking place over the course of two weeks just so some choice things can actually happen without it ending on too big of a cliffhanger as well as without rushing to the end.

    I try thinking of these things in terms of if Hollywood wants to f**k me over and make a terrible adaptation, and if so, what would the movie be like? If someone tried making a game version, what would the game be like? Would they do it piecemeal like Harry Potter and adapt one book at a time? Or would they go full Scott Pilgrim and try cramming absolutely everything in one package?

    ADD moment: Depending on how, erm... open-minded you are, 'cramming into one package' could either be a really cliche or a really sadomasochistic image.

    Either way, the latter one would probably be a rushed mess unless it were actually an RPG game, and the former would still have to cut things for time anyway as well. It's actually disturbing how often I use that as a guide for how to write a story.

    But as a purely literary venture, I really could go either or. I don't have to cut anything for time either considering LitRPG hails from the same realm as sci-fi and fantasy and thus readers seem to prefer longer books (though not always). But the trade-off could be that I could go further in-depth with things if I had less time to tell a story. But the trade-off with that is that I'd not be able to realistically get to one of the bigger early climaxes in the saga as a whole, which would probably mean that I'd have to hint at it earlier than it realistically should happen or that I'd just have to hope people would stick around to the sequel for the story to actually start picking up.

    Just writing that down makes me realize how stupid that sounds. So two weeks it probably is.
     
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  6. Seagrim

    Seagrim Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Dude.

    Consider Decaf.

    Ok, I think that *was* the most evil thing I've ever said.
     
  7. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Decaf doesn't write novels!
     
  8. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Doublepost so I could say: Title Updated
    Even if this book crashes and burns, debuting at, like, #500,000, I still plan on this being a trilogy. And holy lord, commaphobes are gonna hate that first sentence.

    Astral Falls: Black Saturday
    Astral Falls 2: The Electric Wizard (yes, I know I have another WIP with that name; I'll explain at a later date)
    Astral Falls 3: [TBA]
     
  9. Jay

    Jay Hiatus. LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    It sounds pretty interesting to me! I've always been a huge fan of things like Shadowrun and that sort of mixing. I'm really looking forward to the movie Netflix is putting out called Bright (Will Smith as a police officer with an Orc partner and crazy awesome magic, what's not to love?).

    So this sounds right up my alley!
     
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  10. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    What surprised me is just how emotional my lead characters got. It's kinda f**cking with me right now. But I love it because it's helping me feel like I'm writing a LitRPG story with a really character-driven plot and actual consequences. It's just a series of plot twists that wind up twisting back into themselves to explain earlier twists.

    But I'm starting to feel the same sort of apprehension that cut up another story of mine. There's wacky bits next to gritty realism of the "Ellen Page on the Grim Reality of Homelessness Only to Later Fight Native American Demons" sort. Like, if I shouldn't spoil anything, the two lead characters are actually crippled with mental disorders and I want to make sure those disorders are portrayed accurately and uncomfortably... and then there's a big-titted Sasquatch, gay orcs, and lightsaber-wielding ninjas attacking them.
     
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  11. MrPotatoMan

    MrPotatoMan Level 13 (Assassin) Citizen

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    I think this is the first LitRPG ive seen (assumeing it works) where there are two MCs most seem to act like there are two but one winds up getting so much more focus it realy stops mattering so it definitely sounds interesting

    PS.
    for some reason the way yo described stuff made me think of SAO i dont know why
     
  12. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Probably because SAO and .hack//SIGN are partially to blame for some of the ideas (for example, one I haven't mentioned up to now is that there are 10,000 Players at the start), and because this is rooted in the style of JRPGs (namely The World Ends With You and, to a lesser extent, Kingdom Hearts) rather than Western RPGs like most LitRPGs.
     
  13. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    So right now...

    Word count: 18,086.

    My intention is to get to 20,000 today. Even better if I can push myself to 25,000. After that, I can slow it down and write at a less demanding pace. But I'm doing all this with the intention of this being a rough draft. That means I'm a madman, spewing out words that tell the story.
    I have the first week fully planned out, and I've only skipped a few scenes because I had forgotten about then in my delirium only to immediately remember them when I finished up, and it shows. Several things today don't make sense without a scene I accidentally skipped yesterday.
    So I have a decent idea of what happens, except when you get to week 2. Despite this, I still feel like I know what's going to happen in week two considering what's already gone down. And then there's the second two weeks. I have a rough idea of how that'll go down, but getting some concrit will definitely help out.

    Maybe I'll do 10k a day for one week, and then 5k or 3k for however much longer I need after that. From what I can tell, I probably won't actually need 10k per Day— perhaps closer to 5,000 to 7,000. The reason why yesterday's Day was so long was because it was literally the first day and I had to lay down the rules. Also, it wasn't actually 10k words— it was 7,000 at most; I just had an overly long prologue. If I can get the days down to 7k words and keep them that, that gives me 98k— which as much better prospect than 140k.

    I am enjoying this novel quite a bit. I knew I would, and I'm nowhere near the really juicy part. I'm practically still nibbling on the bun.
    Even if this novel completely bombs, I am going to read it end to end many times, I can just tell.

    Update!
    Word Count: 25,815
    I might try to get it up to 26,000 before I head to bed just because.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2017
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  14. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Word Count: 44,507
    Just need to do another 5,500 and I'll finish NaNo 2017. But damn, I'm still on Day 4. And no, I'm not talking about of NaNoWriMo, but of the story itself. There is just gonna be no way for this to take place over the course of two weeks, so I might cut it down to one. At the same time, I could only just run it until it ends. And besides, a lot of it's gonna change in editing anyway. I'll probably get rid of upwards of 30,000 words altogether.

    The reason why I'm shooting through it is because I actually want to make loads of spelling and grammar mistakes. That way, when I start editing it, I'll be forced to meticulously comb through just about every line since the mistakes are obvious.
    When you turn off your inner self-editor, your potential daily word count just goes wild.
     
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  15. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Word Count: 62,347

    I could have gotten to 70,000+ by now, I know, but I got punched in the throat by the flu. So I'm taking it a bit slow right now and am gonna catch up on other things.

    But if there's one thing I can guess, it's that I possibly could push everything out to Day 14 if I so wanted. I'm only on Day 5. And yes, I'm sure that at least 20% of the story will be eviscerated. That'd bring me to just under 50k words, which still means that I'm basically doing 10k words per Day.

    At this point, the only reason why I don't want to end things on Day 7 is because I don't feel there's enough character growth just yet. Also, the subtitle refers to something that actually becomes important to the plot in the second week.
    But whatever. Right? I can change the subtitle whenever I want, and if I really want to end things on Day 14, then nothing's stopping me.

    Right now, reading through my story, it's a mess. But it's a fun mess, mainly because I keep thinking "Oh, they are gonna have so much fun doing X" or "They're coming back to Y later on and they're gonna see why they had to do this!" or "I can't wait until they get Z." It's all the atrocious, inhuman spelling errors that really make it a mess, with the lackluster tags and descriptions bringing it up to the level of garbage.

    If I finish the story this month (I don't see how I can't), the editing process will be terror. But I'll also get to see everything come together at long last and finally transform into the story I've been intending for it to become for so long.
     
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  16. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Damnity Damn-Damn McDamn. Turns out I have pneumonia. It's nothing serious, but this is the reason why I've been unable to get anything done with this damn story for the past three days. Well, that's not totally true; I did write another 1,000 words yesterday. That was about all I could do.
     
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  17. lordtedders

    lordtedders Level 8 (Thug) Roleplaying LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Feel better soon. I'm trying to stay healthy this month and still push out the big word counts.
     
  18. Tom Gallier

    Tom Gallier Level 15 (Guardian) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    That sucks! Hope you get better soon.
     
  19. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    I am already better! Well, no, not really. I think it's bronchitis instead of pneumonia since I just feel heavy-chested and keep coughing whenever I take a deep breath instead of feeling like death itself, but I can write with a sane mind again.

    And on that note, I've been looking back over this story and realized I need more attacks, abilities, and whatnot. One of my favorite pastimes in the past was coming up with weapons. But I guess I had made my decision so soon to NaNoWriMo that I never got the chance to really define what my characters were going to use.

    There's a lot of stuff that I said about this story before November that is just utterly inaccurate now. Same basic set-up, don't get me wrong, but things like there being 235 levels is out. And I had the idea that there wouldn't be any classes; instead, I decided that classes act more like starting builds and it's up to the Player to determine whether or not to continue with your class or roll with skill-based leveling.
    Like, there are four chooseable classes in the story, but since you are limited to two-member parties, you either have to choose to be multi-class and have both Players have two different sets, stick with two classes only, or choose a special fifth class.

    Warrior
    Mage
    Rogue
    Cleric



    It's a good idea to choose one of these classes because you get to choose Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary abilities to focus on.

    Primary: essentially, your starting class. This is where your leveling will be at its quickest pace, and what you'll be most adept in.
    Secondary: a back-up or a reinforcement, depending on your choice. Depending on which one you choose, you can cross classes or double down in your class.
    Tertiary: another ability to assist with survival; it won't be your best ability, but you'll be able to do it above standard levels. This also allows you to cross classes a third time, and this is why the fifth "class" was created in fact.

    For example: the two lead characters in Astral Falls are Ken and Enekai. Both decided to go with a Mage/Warrior mix, unbeknownst to the other.
    Two other characters that also matter to the story to the point that I'm already considering a spin-off featuring them are Colt Manson (the heroic Chosen One) and Princess Melanor Felmir (the elf princess/love interest to Colt). Colt is a straight Warrior, while Felmir is a Rogue/Mage mix.
    Thing is, Ken didn't choose a Tertiary ability, so he's automatically part of a third class, the fifth "special" class I keep mentioning.

    Marx
    The Marx class basically means "no class"; you follow Skyrim rules of leveling. You determine what you put your points into as you go. These abilities may be of the other classes, but whether you identify as part of them is up to you. You can also strip yourself of your class to join the Marx class at any time should you be dissatisfied with your current class/es. You lose the natural bonuses, privileges, and accelerated leveling as a result, but you can make up for it with enough hard work, and your dampened acceleration in out-of-class skills are brought up to speed to boot. I can't say it's the better choice over the others unless you're min/maxing (in which case it's not) or if you're already part of three classes (in which case it's up to you).

    Ken and Enekai's P/S/T looks like this:
    Ken:
    P: Pyrokinesis (Fire magicke)
    S: Kyōka-ken (Reinforced fist)
    T: N/A

    Enekai:
    P: Electrotelekinesis (Psychic magicke)
    S: Kyōka-ken (Reinforced fist)
    T: Advanced Motion (Parkour proficiency)


    I can't definitively whether I like the Yin-Yang approach or the Mirror approach more because I think they both have benefits.
    Yin-Yang makes it more like teamwork. One player chooses two classes, the other player chooses the remaining two classes. They don't have each others' abilities, but that's the point.
    Mirroring makes it more like buddying. Both players are of the same class(es) but may have completely different methods of using these abilities; they know they may be missing things, but they're not interested in that. That's more Ken and Enekai's story in a nutshell.
     
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  20. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    I spoke way too soon when I said I was better. The second wave came in that very day, and I only stopped sniffling yesterday.
    Word Count: 74,581

    This rough draft of mine is really rough, but I can still see the sparkle of a diamond beneath. For one, I've figured out how the rest of the story's gonna go.
    I've also figured out the combat mechanics. It took me until just yesterday to realize that I was playing "RPG" straight, trying to fit this world into a stereotypical RPG when I actually had the opportunity to create whatever the hell I wanted to create. I didn't follow my own advice: these are games from the future, from the 2040s and beyond; there's no reason why a mainstream title would be indistinguishable from a game from the early 2000s.
    But I also get to deconstruct that by having some characters comment on that.

    Like, the combat system now is a "free-skill engine." It's something that literally cannot possibly work in a current gen video game— you can choose a class (or the Marx class) and generally develop some sort of basic fundamental power. You can upgrade that power.
    But there are no "attacks" to choose from. You can sorta program yourself to follow saved attacks if you want to streamline things, but if you want to fight properly, you've got to fight as you are.

    For example, Enekai is a telekinetic. In the old version (technically the one I'm working on right now), she chose a bundle of attacks like "Pressure" and "Psychic Whirlwind" and whatnot. She uses these attacks. If she equips her lightsaber, she can use attacks like "Bladed Attack" or defenses like "Parry".
    But like I said, yesterday I realized something— "why am I playing KotOR?" I know, Enekai's basically a Jedi since she has Force powers and a lightsaber, but that's not what I mean.
    I'm talking about, "Why am I selecting attacks?" One of the whole themes of the story is that Enekai and Ken are utterly confused by being thrust into a video game, fully immersed in it. They're coming at things like you would if you suddenly woke up in a video game— screwing about, for one. Seeing what they can do. Panicked sprinting to complete the daily Mod challenges and other timed missions, and whatnot.
    So it stands to reason that they'd try to use their abilities freely. So how would that work, then? What would realistically stop Enekai from gently rubbing her lightsaber across a Wraith's face instead of charging forth and swiping at it? Or using her psychic abilities to telekinetically grab the light saber and attack a Wraith from a distance?

    For a modern game, that's just beyond the capabilities of the game engine.

    But for a 2040's era video game, yeah, what is stopping her?

    Hence the free-skill engine. You get basic affinities, and it's up to you to become skilled in them. Leveling up rewards you by increasing these powers and improving your affinity (e.g. telekinesis as novice> psychokinesis as adept> psychomancy as master). There are no preprogrammed attacks except what you've saved as shortcuts.


    That's just one thing I've done. I'm thinking about testing these out with another LitRPG story, one that's a bit more traditional.


    PS: I've also figured out how to stop her, and even have an otherwise old-school style turn-based RPG in a 2040s-era game, even in the case that you try free forming your attacks. But that's a story for another day.
     
    Jay and Tom Gallier like this.




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