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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The beginning.

So, What's this all about?

Tales of the Cursed is my outlet for a recent near-obsession with the roguelike game Dungeon Crawl – Stone Soup. I've been playing roguelike rpgs for over a decade now, and I recently got back into them upon writing about them for my other blog, What's Next? - The Unemployed Geek. I'd played Rogue, Angband and even tried to get into Dwarf Fortress, yet the controls and sheer number of options keep scaring me out of that one. I heard about Dungeon Crawl recently from Questionable Content, a webcomic I follow, and noticed how many of the posts on Reddit on /r/roguelikes were dedicated to this one game out of the entire subgenre. I gave it a serious try and really got into playing the day of the 0.9 release, right before the August Tournament started. After a few days, I was hooked.

Okay, you like the game, so what?

I've watched a bunch of videos, forum topics and blogs dedicated to the concept of "Let's Play," where a community of folks gets regular reports on play sessions of a game and has input on what happens next at certain points. I get the appeal, but this isn't really a traditional LP. I want to follow the format of letting readers make some decisions, but instead of screenshots and game mechanics, the highlights of my doomed adventurers will be told in chapters of short fiction. This short story structure will allow me to stretch my prose muscles a bit and work on descriptions, internal dialogue, etc. Dungeon Crawl fans can experience the dungeon in a new way, the lives and deaths of the adventurers told from their perspective. There are plenty of sites that show you games in progress. I want to tell a story, with the game providing the framework.

What's all this "Cursed" business?

I started thinking about how killing a Unique named foe like Sigmund in one game, and having him appear in another story might destroy suspension of disbelief. That is, unless it were incorporated into the story beforehand. I like the idea that the Uniques will rise from the dead, whether they be heroes or villains. My protagonists, however, don't have that luxury. Death is permanent in Crawl. This means that getting attached to a character is probably a bad idea, as I'm not skilled enough at the game for their survival to be a foregone conclusion. (My best characters usually meet their end in mid-game, around D:14) These "Cursed" adventurers know they quest for the Orb of Zot with the most likely outcome being a painful death, alone in the darkness. Why do they do it anyway? Why do they die permanently, while others like Dovan and Duvessa, Grinder and Menkaure rise to fight again? That is something I hope to reveal slowly through the story, allowing readers to speculate along the way.

How will this work?

I plan to play using the most updated version that is playable on the CDO Webtiles, so if people want, they can log in and actually watch (and comment on) a favorite character being played live if I happen to be on. I don't want to tell a story that ends in two posts with "and then I was eaten by a rat," so I may solicit opinions on what kind of character to play next (I'll try to run three at a time so I can tell several types of stories,) but won't start chapters until I know the character will make it past the first few levels or so. I'll ask at different points for commenters to help choose whether I take a staircase or portal into one of the areas (Lair, Orc Mines, Ossuary, Shoals, etc..) and will live or die based on the decision. Dependent on how many people actively participate, I'll make the call on how to interpret the advice I get from the public. (Might start first come, first served or I pick what I like best, then move to polling if enough people like this.)

How often can I expect an update on my favorite character?

My main blog has a rigid 5-times a week, just about never miss schedule. This one won't. I'll try to get something up every week, but I may have a flurry of posts one week and nothing the next. My level of interest in the project and playing Dungeon Crawl at all, plus my other responsibilities will determine posting frequency. Consider this a "preemptive apology" for those times when updates will inevitably get sporadic, as I won't be apologizing for the same again. Life can, and will get in the way of this project. I'll try to make sub-pages for characters who are popular enough, as well as a graveyard page for the fallen with links to the morgue files. I'll be starting with a human assassin named Locke, in honor of my somewhat well-known character from the Arcanis roleplaying world and would like suggestions of what to play next, with the warning that if it is too silly, the story style would be annoying after too long, so I may ignore suggestions that are more "exotic." First Locke Chapter Coming Soon!

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