Chapter 1: A Paradoxical Dragon
Remember: this is a working document. It doesn’t need to all make sense or be beautifully written. This is a place to store random ideas, thoughts, doubts and so on. It should be constantly changing.
Your world is called the The Six Realms:
Arcadia: The land of humans, who are mostly farmers.
Arboria: The land of elves: foresters; adepts at herb lore.
Kryokinya: The high plateau of ice and snow. Its people are peaceful and intellectual. They are adepts in the magic of cold and crystal.
Aqualon: The land of water. Aqualon is a progressive city of science and technology. It’s inhabitants are a diverse mix of aquatic looking humanoid people.
The Dead Lands: The Dead Lands are populated by exiles from Infernia. There are rumours that the shadow magic in this Realm does something dreadful to its inhabitants.
Infernia: A land of fire in the shadow of Mons Igneus, the great volcano and the location of the castle of the Dragon Lord, its tyrant ruler.
There is magic in the Realms. Its source is the essence of the Dragons that are native to each of the Realms. Each Dragon engenders a different type of magic. There are magic items, potions and spells. Spells require incantations and rare ingredients.
The Arcane Academy: a school of magic. It’s based in a floating castle above Arcadia, kept aloft by the power given to it by a Cloud Dragon or Nimbus Volare, called Aura. She lives high out of sight most of the time, and seems never to land. She visits the school from time to time to breathe nebulous breath to revitalise the clouds that keep the school afloat.
You are an advanced student. You love magical theory and magical languages, but practical magic is not something you excel at. Your favourite place in the castle is the Library.
What is the Player’s mission at this stage? It makes the game much more enjoyable if the Player knows what they are trying to achieve, rather than letting them just discover what they need to do. Then, when they achieve their goal, they get a nice feeling of satisfaction. Other, unexpected, things will happen in your chapter, and you can have other mysteries and surprises. This is just to give the Player a sense of purpose, and to have something to judge their performance against.
In this chapter, your mission is to go down to Aracdia with some of your fellow advanced students to try to shore up the banks of the River Arbor. There was a flash flood down the river from Arboria. It was thankfully brief, but the water is still quite high and the humans of Arcadia are worried that it may happen again.
Your personal goals are:
- Show that studying magical theory is useful.
- Try not to be made a fool of by the more practical skills of your classmates.
What is going to happen in your chapter? Think about the general flow of events. Remember story and character are intertwined. Think about how your characters would act. Think about general conflict and the conflict presented to the Protagonist by your characters. Think also about how you want the Player to feel when they are finding their way through these events. Include any story problems you need to solve.
You and your fellow Advanced Magical Apprentices are standing at the gates of the floating castle that is the Arcane Academy. The magical clouds that keep the castle in the air billow around your feet. Three of your professors are behind you, having a debate. Professor Praxis, the Academy Principal wants to know why you are all here and why Professor Profundus hasn’t gone down to Arcadia since he is the water expert. There was a flash flood down the River Arbor. It was thankfully brief, but the water is still high and the humans of Arcadia are worried that it may happen again, so they have asked the Arcane Academy to help. The way Professor Praxis talks about it makes it clear he doesn’t think it’s particularly serious and not really the Academy’s problem anyway. Professor Profundus’s response is characteristically ponderous. Professor Codex, the school librarian, explains that she thought it would be a good independent practical challenge for the Advance Apprentices. The discussion and your response to it shows the character of the professors and your relationship to them. In the end, Professor Praxis agrees that maybe you can all be trusted with some responsibility. He looks pointedly at you, clearly relying on you to be the most responsible. So you each uncork your phials of Cloud Dragon breath, and waft them around in the complex gesture you have all learned, say out loud, “Volito Demeo,” and step into the mist.
You all float gently down to the ground.
You go to the River Arbor. The water has risen a lot, but it has not yet burst its banks.
You try various, including using the following spells:
- Volito Demeo (floating, levitation) to move rocks
- Augmentum Floreo (plant growth) to make vegetation grow higher along the banks
But then some of the other apprentices hear a noise. You recognise is as a form of Draconian, the language of Dragons. All apprentices are supposed to learn Draconian, of course, but you’re the only one who really studies it seriously.
It’s the voice of a baby Dragon calling for help from somewhere upstream. You go and help the Dragon and make use of spells to rescue him. You talk to him. He has no memory of who he is or where he came from, and he is of no species known to you, so you decide to call him Paradox. He is scared, but with the struggle you go through to save him, he comes to totally trust you and clings to you somewhat.
Suddenly Professor Praxis turns up. Despite have expressed confidence in you all, he was monitoring. He is surprised that you left the main group. You explain about the Dragon. He looks at Paradox, but has no idea what kind of Dragon this is, either. But he senses a curious power within Paradox, and says he could be extremely dangerous, which seems preposterous to you. Nevertheless, he takes the responsibility for him off your hands. Paradox squeals for you to help him, but the hierarchy of the Arcane Academy means there is nothing you can do.
The key characters in your chapter with a short biography. The biography should contain details that never make it to the page, but which help you decide their actions and reactions in a coherent way. Think about what your characters want. Remember character and story are intertwined. Include any character problems you need to solve.
Professor Praxis is the Academy Principal. He teaches Magical Principles, studying how magic works and what its origins are in the nature of Dragons. Because of this, you get on well with him and you are pretty much his favourite apprentice. He seems to find practical magic somewhat distasteful: any monkey can recite words and perform actions. And without understanding, magic can be very dangerous. He loves the Academy and is very protective of his students and their welfare and well-being. He is careful and cautious, wary of strangers, and uncomfortable with change.
Professor Profundum is the professor of water magic. He studies the Mare Dominus Dragon. He tends to move and think very slowly and deeply. His lessons can be tedious and obscure.
Professor Codex is the Academy Librarian. She has some regrets about a life of books and studying. She wishes maybe she had taken the chance to go out and have adventures and learn about The Realms from actually visiting them. But she never had the courage. She knows knowledge comes from exploration, and that includes in the real world as well as from study and experimentation.
Information that is not overtly included in this chapter but is important to understand what’s going on or is needed for future reference in later chapters.
Paradox was a frozen egg in the Tundra. The mother, sensing the Dragon Lord was going to turn on her, left the egg there so her offspring might come back when the Dragon Lord was gone. When the flooding happened, the egg was freed from the ice and flowed down the River Arbor to Arcadia. This happened in the first big flood. Clover saw the egg, but was scrambling to build a dam and wasn’t able to get to it or stop it. Clover tells you that, when the first big flood happened, any elves on or near the river, fled from it, so wouldn’t have seen it.
Inventory isn’t just physical items. It includes:
- spell ingredients
- clues obtained
- achievements / actions performed
- anything else the Player needs to record in their Arcane Almanac for future reference
- Required Inventory: What special items or information or achievements does the Player absolutely need to be able to complete this chapter?
- Optional Inventory: What special items or information or achievements might help the Player do well in this chapter, but aren’t essential for completion?
- Definite Additions: What special items or information or achievements will the Player definitely acquire by the time they complete this chapter?
- Potential Additions: What special items or information or achievements are available for the Player to acquire by the time they complete this chapter, but which they might not get?
Some spell ingredients
Spell ingredients should be recorded under Inventory.
- Required Spells: What spells and at what level does the Player absolutely need to be able to complete this chapter?
- Optional Spells: What spells and at what level might help the Player do well in this chapter, but aren’t essential for completion?
- Definite Level-ups: What spells will the Player definitely have levelled-up by the time they complete this chapter?
- Potential Level-ups: What spells may the Player have levelled-up by the time they complete this chapter, but which they might not get?
Problems / Issues / Big Questions
Are there any things we need answers to or problems we need solving before we can complete this chapter outline? Things about game rules? Things about world lore or magic? Things about other characters or the big backstory? Things about inventory from earlier or later chapters?
How did Paradox get to the Arcane Academy? It seems unbelievable that he was washed down all the way from Infernia. How about if he was a frozen egg in the cliff on the edge of the Tundra which was washed down with the floods. But then wouldn’t Clover have seen him? So maybe he came a slightly different route not actually through Arboria? Maybe somewhere near the border of Arboria? But then do we give the Player the option to investigate that route?
Should he then be even more of a baby at the start?