Chapter 3: Jelf
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.
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.
Get through to Arboria and see if you can find any clues as to where Paradox came from.
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.
As you descend slowly through the clouds back down to Arcadia, a sudden gust of wind hits you and Paradox. Professor Codex comes flying alongside you and whisks you along with her. Her flying magic is clearly much more advanced than yours! Codex tells you you made the right choice – it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission. She will persuade Professor Praxis that you are a capable and responsible person and are likely to come back from Arboria with some fascinating new knowledge. In the air, she sees that you have your Academy satchel. “Do you have your Journal.” You say you do. “Excellent,” she says, “Please record your adventures and prove that my trust in you is well founded.” She also gives you a few spell ingredients and other items to get you on your way. “As you can imagine, the castle is in an uproar. These are the few items I could get and still catch you up.”
You take these things, and are about to ask if she has any other advice, but she is involuntarily whisked away by some unseen force, back towards the castle and you float down to the ground on the edge of the forest of Arboria.
You enter the forest, your first real step into your new adventure. You stumble across a small but tranquil fountain with golden water pouring into the pool. Sitting on the edge of the fountain is an elf. This your first real challenge, a tricky first meeting. If you mismanage it, you could end up dead and having to restart the chapter. But if you do it right, you learn that this is Jelf, a sort of border guard and welcoming committee for humans travelling from Arcadia.
You tell him about Paradox and ask what he knows, but the only Dragon he know is Clover, the Earth Dragon or Terra Viventium who tends the forests and rivers of Arboria. He mentions the flash flood. “The water seemed to come from the border cliff that leads to Kryokinya. Who knows what would have happened if she hadn’t stopped the water.” He looks at you with great pride. “But she is powerful and in tune with the land and we can always rely on her.” But he has no idea what Paradox is. You explain that he was washed down on the flash flood. Jelf says when the flood happened, all the Elves fled from the river, fearing terrible floods. “But, as I said, Clover, stopped it.” He says he supposes Clover might know something, but, as precious as she is to the Elves, she is also proud and aloof. Your chances of getting to speak with her are are slim to nothing. Jelf also says that the Elder Elf knows many secrets, but your chances of getting to speak with him are about the same. “Unless you win the Tournement, of course!” And he begins laughing. You ask him about the Tournement and he tells you about it. You can see why he laughed – you would have no chance, especially in Staff Fighting. You can thank him and leave, or you can risk more humiliation and ask him to train you for the tournement.
Surprisingly, he is excited by the idea of teaching you – fighting is his favourite thing. All you know how to do at the start is the basic Slash that anyone could do with a stick. By the end, you are also adept at Dodge, Feint and Lunge. Then you thank him and leave for Arboria.
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, the Principal of the Academy. He cares deeply about all his students, their welfare and well-being. He is one of your favourite Professors because, like you, he prefers magical studies rather than using magic. He is careful and cautious, but wary of strangers and uncomfortable with change.
Professor Codex is the Academy Librarian. She has always longed for adventure, but has never had the courage. She has always sought adventure in the pages of her books. But in her heart she knows knowledge comes from exploration.
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.
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?
You’re not expecting anything to happen, so you should have no other inventory or spell ingredients with you.
Unless we invent escape challenges that require something specific. But these should be ordinary things that you would be likely to have with you in what, after all, is your home.
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?
Required: A barely functioning Dragon Breath spell. Deliberately not strong to make your escape more dramatic.
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?
Having this adventure in the floating castle nicely mirrors the climax of the story in the castle in Infernia. Stories often end with the adventurer coming home.
Example from Harry Potter with spoilers
For example, in Harry Potter the final battle is in Hogwarts. In fact, Harry starts without a proper home, then makes Hogwarts his home, which is then taken away from him again, and which he has to win back. Also, Harry Potter is bookended with Kings Cross, which is obviously an important location since he meets Dumbledore there when he ‘dies’.