Corey and Lori's Quest Log


Corey and Lori’s Quest Log

Archive for the ‘Game Design’ Category

Hero-U Kickstarter is Live and Doing Very Well

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Support the Hero-U Kickstarter

We’re off and running with the first game based on The School for Heroes, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. In the first 24 hours, over 1200 of our generous fans got behind the project and pledged over $80,000. We are looking for a minimum goal of $400,000 to be able to develop and launch the full game. Please visit our Kickstarter page (linked above as the game title) and consider backing the project. Most importantly, tell your friends to visit us and spread the word.

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is the University-level version of the School for Heroes. Players will take on the role of Shawn O’Conner, a new student in the school. Yes, Hero-U has Rogues, not just Disbarred Bards. Shawn didn’t exactly enroll in Hero-U. He was sent there after getting caught in a botched thieving operation. As Shawn, you get to decide whether you want to keep trying to be a Thief, or if you want to work a lot harder to become a Rogue Hero. You will also get a chance to unravel the mysteries of your past and determine the course of your future.

Game-play-wise, we are treating this as an RPG with adventure and puzzle game aspects. Of course, the story and characters are critical, but we also want this to be a true role-playing game experience. We are creating a new tactical combat system and using a map-like top-down 2D interface to facilitate use of tactics and strategy. We also plan to have beautiful painted backdrops for key conversations and other important scenes.

We hope you will like what we’re doing as we move on to the next stage of the school’s development. Please visit the project and share it with your friends.

Rogue to Redemption poster

 

A World Full of Heroes – The Power of We

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Blog Action DayToday, Monday, October 15, 2012, is Blog Action Day. (#powerofwe and #BAD12 ) This year the topic is “The Power of We”, an idea that is an important part of Lori’s and my beliefs. In fact, just two months ago I posted Power To the People – Changing the Game on exactly this subject.

That article focused on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other crowdfunding sites. People who felt they had little voice can now make themselves heard by supporting projects they care about.

This time, I want to follow up by writing about our favorite topic – Heroes – from the “power of we” viewpoint. We tend to think of Heroes as remote – Superman or Batman, isolated forces for good. Or maybe someone like a soldier who rescues a comrade, or a fireman rushing into the collapsing World Trade Center. The Heroes are all out there somewhere while we sit at home watching or reading about their exploits.

Not Alone

But wait a minute. How alone are those Heroes, anyway? Superman is pretty unique – He was sent to Earth from Krypton as a baby, and somehow being under our yellow sun gave him superpowers. But did he fight evil alone? Hardly. First he was saved from Krypton by his father and other scientists. Were they not the real Heroes, sacrificing their lives for the sake of one baby? Why didn’t one of them get in the rocket instead?

And down on Earth, that superbaby was found and cared for by Martha and Jonathan Kent. They made many sacrifices to survive an as-yet morally ambiguous baby who kept knocking holes in the wall and endangering everyone around him. More importantly, they taught young Clark Kent ethical and moral principles that guided the rest of his life. I’d argue that the Kents were the real superheroes in those stories! Superman was the tool forged by them to fight evil.

Those soldiers and firemen I mentioned? Do you really think they work alone? Sure, in their moment of reported glory, each of them went above and beyond the call of duty. But before that, they committed to duty, learned to work as a team, trained with their fellows, and at every stage received equipment, money, and support from their organization. Soldiers fight as a team or they die alone. Firemen specialize – Some running hoses, others climbing ladders, some running into buildings to rescue trapped people. Without the whole team, an individual fireman is (ahem) toast.

Batman mostly works as a loner… If you don’t count Robin, and Alfred, and Commissioner Gordon. Or the inherited wealth he uses to support his profligate crime-fighting lifestyle.

We Can All Be Heroes

We Can be HeroesBut at the same time, one of the strengths of the Batman legend is that he does not have superpowers. He started out as an ordinary person and – with a lot of help from his friends – forged himself into a Hero. We would all like to believe that, if we work hard enough, we can be Heroes too.

And we can!

Where do soldiers, firemen, policemen, philanthropists, charity volunteers, and other real-life heroes come from? They all start out as ordinary people – some rich, some poor, most middle-class – and they commit to higher goals. They set their sights on noble goals, join a team, and work their tails off to gain the skills they need to succeed.

You and I and each of us can do the same. It takes commitment, follow-through, and the “power of we”.

A World of Heroes

Imagine a world full of heroes. It starts out as one or two individuals saying, “Things aren’t right. Someone should do something about that. I guess it’s up to me.”

Then they get together and realize that two people working together can accomplish more than two individuals alone. So they talk to others and share what they’ve learned. Pretty soon, someone else stands up and say, “You know, if they could do it, maybe so can I.” And then there are three.

And four. And a dozen. Slowly the word spreads, and more people join the cause. They aren’t all Heroes at first, but when they commit to doing good, they’ve taken the first step to becoming Heroes themselves.

And maybe you and I read, and listen, and say, “These people need help. How can they take on all the world’s troubles themselves?” And each of us has a choice – We can sit back, and keep complaining, and do nothing. Or we can take those first small steps ourselves. We can commit to joining the movement, doing Good whenever we can, and working towards becoming Heroes ourselves.

Because there is no Superman, or Batman, in our world. And there’s only one Chuck Norris. But there are a lot of ordinary people working to do good deeds, one small task at a time. Every time someone does Good – even it’s not a big, scary, Heroic action – it makes our world a little better.

The Power of We

Every time *you* do good, you make the world *and yourself* a little better. You become part of the hidden team, the people who care, the people who would rather be Heroes than lie back and ignore the evil around them.

That’s what “the power of We” is all about. A whole lot of people who take a stand and strive to do things that matter… That can be the difference from a world that suffocates under its own pollution, starves to death because it has exhausted its natural resources, or lives in fear under the iron hand of despotic rulers. We won’t stand for that world; we can’t allow it.

And that means we all – each one of us as individuals and many of us working together – must become Heroes. The world needs more Heroes, and if you and I do not heed the call, who will answer for us? It’s up to us and the Power of We.

Women of Glory 4: Dark Mistress

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

In which we follow our heroine Katrina’s rise to power, her journey to Mordavia, and learn how she falls in love for the very first time.

It’s not easy being a Dark Master.

KatrinaIt requires a delicate balance. If you piss off the neighboring rulers, they declare war on you. Terrorize the locals too much? They call for a Hero to take you out. Not oppressive or scary enough? The peasants revolt and slaughter your monsters. Don’t get too soft, or they start calling you “Nice Master” and expect you to be the Godparent to their kids. Like I said, it’s delicate.

The old Dark Master was nasty, but he had strong self-preservation instincts and good PR. He was rumored to be a mysterious Wizard of the “subtle and quick to anger” variety. Although he was a Vampire, The Dark Master never lunched on the locals. He fed only upon travelling merchant caravans. He called them his “Meals on Wheels.”

Despite all that care, Katrina managed to lure a Hero into slaying her Master. With the Dark Master gone, Katrina simply took over his place, title, and reputation.

Silly Wizard

Ad AvisThen one day, a brash young Wizard who called himself Ad Avis came to call upon the Dark Master. Katrina met him, but Ad Avis insisted that he was a great Wizard and had no interest in dealing with maidservants or mistresses.

Needless to say, Katrina was not impressed with Ad Avis. For a “great Wizard,” his powers of observation were lacking, and his manners were worse. So after teaching Ad Avis a valuable lesson that gurrls can be Wizards, too (by trashing him in a magical battle), Katrina bound Ad Avis to her will with her Vampiric Charm. Ad Avis would either be useful to her as a servant, or he would pay for his arrogance the next time Katrina needed a meal.

As it turned out, Ad Avis actually had some useful knowledge about summoning demons. Katrina had read about a Dark One called Avoozl, who had the power to shroud the lands with eternal night. If Katrina could summon and control Avoozl, then she would never fear daylight again.

Even as a servant, Ad Avis was arrogant and annoying. He despised women in general and Katrina in particular. He treated Katrina’s servants like they were, well, monsters. Although he was always subserviently polite to Katrina when she was around him, she knew that Ad Avis would love to drive a stake through her heart.

Unfortunately for Ad Avis, destroying Katrina would also destroy the vampiric bonds he shared with her. As a Vampire’s personal servant, he did not age and he had the same ability to charm mortals as a Vampire had. So while Ad Avis hated Katrina, he loved power too much to give in to his resentment and fury towards her.

Eventually, Katrina soon grew tired of Ad Avis’s snide superiority and sarcasm and sent him back to his homeland of Raseir. Good riddance!

Moving to Mordavia

Continuing her research, Katrina learned of the land of Mordavia. The Dark One’s cult had come very close to unleashing Avoozl upon the world. So she brought her monstrous servants to Mordavia and took over the abandoned Borgov Castle.

From the Borgov library, Katrina read about the Cult of Avoozl and the role that Erana had played in banishing the Dark One from the land.

Mordavia was a haunted land, marked by death and dark rituals. The villagers were mostly frightened fools huddled in their walled town. Some sort of spell emanating from Erana’s staff protected the town. To her annoyance, Katrina couldn’t even enter it. She had to use her crystal ball to spy on the town.
Katrina in Mordavia

 

Innocence Lost

One day, she saw a lonely child named Tanya playing in the garden that grew around Erana’s staff. The child was singing a lullaby to a faded ragdoll. Katrina watched as Tanya cradled the ragdoll and said plaintively, “I wish we had a friend.” Something about the child’s innocence touched Katrina’s heart.

She sent one of her servants to a distant city to bring back a fine china doll. Then she ordered Toby, her most trusted monster, to hide the doll in the garden for Tanya to find.

TobyToby was monstrous, but he was not evil, so Erana’s spell did not affect him. He easily climbed the town wall and hid the doll. While Katrina slept in her coffin, Toby waited in the gate tower to see what would happen.

When Tanya found the doll, she was delighted. She had never seen anything as beautiful as this doll before. Tanya danced merrily with the doll, and even Toby smiled to see Tanya so happy. For days and nights, Toby and Katrina watched Tanya’s joyful fun with the doll.

Then Tanya’s mother saw Tanya playing with this strange doll. Bella took the doll away from Tanya. Bella was afraid that the doll was magical and dangerous since it had clearly enchanted Tanya. Even though Tanya begged for the doll, her mother kept it hidden.

Bella made Tanya stay in the inn so that Tanya would be safe. Tanya cried to herself as she looked out the open window at the garden where she loved to play.

Toby felt sorry for Tanya and tried to comfort her. He climbed up to the roof and sang her a growling lullaby through the window. When Tanya saw Toby, she wasn’t afraid of the big, hairy monster who smiled back at her. She somehow knew that he was the one who had given her the doll. She knew that he was the friend she had wished for at Erana’s Staff.

Leave No Child Behind

TanyaWhen Katrina found out that Tanya’s mother had taken the doll, she was angry. Katrina was even angrier at the idea that Tanya could no longer go outside to play in the sunshine. Tanya’s cruel mother did not deserve such a lovely daughter. If Katrina had a daughter like Tanya, she would give her child all the toys and gifts in the world just to make her smile.

Then Katrina got an idea. Tanya was a lonely prisoner, locked away from the daylight just as Katrina was. Katrina could make Tanya happy again. Tanya would become Katrina’s darling daughter and never have to be afraid again.

So Katrina had Toby “rescue” Tanya from the inn. Katrina had a way to make sure that Tanya would never have to fear the dark or bad things again. Katrina made Tanya her very own Vampire daughter. Together they could be happy forever, afraid of nothing but sunlight.

Katrina had an answer to that too. All she needed was to summon and control Avoozl. Once eternal darkness came to Mordavia, Katrina and Tanya could go anywhere any time of the day or night.

Of course, there was a slight complication in the form of Ad Avis, who was only mostly gone. Katrina had sent him to Raseir and thought she had seen the last of him. That suited Ad Avis as well.

Living on the Raseir’s Edge

For a while, everything in Raseir went as planned. Ad Avis had taken over the city. He brought law and order to the land and put women in their place – harems. He had all the information he needed to bind the Djinn Iblis to his command.

All Ad Avis needed now was someone gullible enough to enter the Forbidden City and retrieve the statue of Iblis. Sure enough, a hero arrived right on schedule. He made it through the Forbidden City as the prophecy had foretold. Ad Avis took the statue and left the hero trapped in the ruined city.

But Ad Avis underestimated his victim. Not only did the hero escape, but he interrupted the summoning ritual for Iblis. Ad Avis was furious. All those years of being Katrina’s slave, all those years of research, all his plans for world domination destroyed by one stupid hero.

Oh, and it got worse when the hero defeated Ad Avis and sent him falling to his doom from the tower of Raseir. It’s a sad day when you can’t even trust a hero to stay in the ancient ruins and die.

Mordavian Plights

With his dying breath, Ad Avis called out to Katrina through the magical bonds of Vampire and servant. She had no choice but to summon him to her side and return him from his death as a fully-fledged Vampire. Oh well, maybe he could help out with the ritual of summoning Avoozl.

Except that he couldn’t. The final secrets of the ritual were hidden in the old monastery in town. As Vampires, they couldn’t get past Erana’s spell to reach the monastery. They were also barred from the Dark One’s Cave. They needed some gullible fool who would do those things for them..

Ad Avis knew exactly who to use…

(To Be Continued)

See No Evil Done

Illustration by Pam Thien

Women of Glory 4: Daughter of Darkness

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

The last thing the Hero recalled was defeating a demon in Fricana and being greeted by the sight of his friends who helped him.

Then he felt himself magically drawn across dimensions to an eerie and dark cave that felt nasty. It didn’t take a Paladin’s sense evil to know that this was a very bad place to be. After a long while of exploring this weird place and avoiding unpleasant ways of dying, the hero finally made his way outside.

Shadowy MeetingThe outside of the cave wasn’t much more pleasant than the inside. It was cold and foggy. There was a sense of looming danger to this area. The hero got the distinct impression that he was not in Kansas anymore.

Then a young woman walked out of the shadows toward him. She welcomed him to Mordavia. She seemed surprised and almost relieved to find the hero here.

She called herself Katrina.

Before the hero could ask her, “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?,” she headed back into the forest and was lost in the mists. The hero might suspect that this sweet young thing was more than she seemed, but for the moment he was confused, bemused, and a bit amused by her. He could only hope that he would get to meet her again sometime.

Out of the Darkness

Katrina was indeed surprised and relieved to see the hero alive. She hated it when a magical spell went awry. Her magic had summoned the hero to Mordavia where the hero was supposed to arrive in the Borgov castle. Instead, the power of the Dark One’s cave interfered.
The hero was either very lucky or very skilled to come out of that cave alive.

Either way, Katrina knew that the hero would be very useful to her.

For once, Ad Avis had given her good advice when he suggested that she summon his murderer here. This was not a matter of petty vengeance. This would have world-altering consequences.

And the hero seemed just gullible enough to do the job for which Katrina brought him here..

A Shadowy Past

Katrina grew up in the city of Slava in the kingdom of Vakia. She was the daughter of a Knight’s mistress. Katrina grew up on the edge of poverty, never knowing if her father would continue to support her and her mother from month to month. She hated to see fear on her mother’s face when the knight did not show up to pay her bills.

However, when the knight did visit, Katrina soon realized that her father was as charmed by Katrina as he was by her mother. Katrina learned how to wrap him around her finger with just a smile, a hug, and “I love you, Daddy.” Her father wasn’t the only one. All the older men in the neighborhood enjoyed her friendly smile and cheerful greetings. Sometimes, the old men would give her an apple to share with her mother.

For Katrina learned from her mother – You do whatever it takes to keep from being helpless and hungry.

When Katrina was thirteen, her mother became ill. The knight had not been to see them in months and there was very little money left for food. Their landlord was threatening to evict them for back rent. Katrina cared for her sick mother, but there was no money to buy her medicine. There was nothing Katrina could do to save her mother. She could only watch her mother die.

Then Katrina wiped the tears from her face. She brushed her hair and put on her mother’s best dress. She kissed her mother’s cheek, put two of her remaining coins on her mother’s eyes to pay for the ferryman, and then Katrina walked away, never to return.

You do whatever it takes…

The Wizardess of WIT

Katrina had a series of ‘boyfriends.’ These were older men who were thrilled to have a sweet young thing to flirt and cuddle with. One of these older men was a Wizard. He was surprised when Katrina showed an interest in his magic. He was even more surprised that she had a talent for magic. Soon, she learned all that he could teach her.

Katrina saw magic as a means of taking control of her own life. No longer would she be dependent upon others for food and shelter. She had the power to take charge of her life. She would never be helpless or hungry again – or so she hoped.

When she applied for the Wizard’s Institute for Technocery, the Wizard Council did their best to discourage her. They set the hardest of tests before her. They explained that Wizard magic was a man’s skill. She should go off to learn how to be a healer. Healing was woman’s magic.
(Yes, Erana had been there before, but she wasn’t quite human. Nor was Erana a seductive young woman who seemed determined to have her own way.)

Katrina did not let the old fools in the council keep her from the chance to learn more magic. She excelled in her classes. Most Wizards and TA’s were delighted to have someone lovely in their classrooms who actually listened to their lectures and learned their lessons. It was a novel experience for them.

Katrina spent her nights in the library learning about magic that the Wizards didn’t teach at WIT. There were some spells that were considered too dark, dangerous and unpredictable for sensible Wizards to ever learn. Katrina believed that magic was neither dark nor light. It was all a matter of how the magic was used.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Then came a demonic invasion of Russ caused by an unfortunate former graduate of WIT. To avoid the bad publicity towards Wizards and the institute, the Council sent graduate students to deal with the demons.

Unfortunately, these demons had the ability to possess Wizards. The situation was getting steadily worse.

Katrina offered to go and stop the demons. She had studied the old books and even older spells. She wanted a chance to prove that she was a true Wizard.

The council had a long conference about sending her. On one hand, it seemed wrong to send a woman to do a Wizard’s job. On the other hand, it would get rid of this troublemaker. There were far too many besotted Wizards at the Institute with her around. Besides, she was making the other students jealous because she was the teachers’ pet and got good grades just by blinking her eyelashes. Or so they assumed; it did not occur to most students that one could actually succeed by studying and practicing magic.

So the Council decided to send Katrina off to deal with the demons. It never occurred to them that she might succeed.

However, succeed Katrina did. Using a variation of the ‘Thermonuclear Blast’ spell (one that did not involve suicide as a major component of the spell), she destroyed the demons and the portal. She also disintegrated all of the possessed Wizards and grad students. She felt this was a fair trade-off. They knew the job was difficult when they took it.

Horrified that Katrina had accomplished what much greater Wizards could not do, and that she used ‘forbidden’ magic to do so, the Wizard Council banished her from the Institute.

Katrina was furious that WIT wouldn’t even acknowledge that she had just saved a land and WIT’s precious reputation. However, it didn’t really matter. She had learned about as much as she wanted to from the Institute. It was time to find a new, more powerful teacher.

So Katrina went off to seek the legendary Dark Master.

Dark Mastery

The Dark Master was a former Wizard at the Institute many decades before Katrina’s time. He had the reputation of being very learned and powerful. It was rumored that he had found the secret of agelessness.

Katrina thought it would be easy to become apprentice to an elderly old gentleman. She had charmed every other teacher and would do the same to him.

What she did not know was that the Dark Master was no gentleman. Nor was he alive. He had managed to conceal the fact that he was a Vampire from all of the Wizards. He had no need for an apprentice.

But he did have a need for a Vampire slave.

The Dark Master delighted in the cruelty of turning Katrina into a Vampire and forcing her to do his bidding.

Katrina hated him and hated being helpless to disobey him. She hated the fact that she had to return to her grave before dawn. She hated the fact that she was totally defenseless in the light of day. Being a Vampire sucked.

The Dark MasterKatrina was a servant of the Dark Master for many years until, one night, she seduced a naïve young man. She easily convinced him to stake her evil Vampire master, something Katrina could not do herself. Pity that the hero perished in the process…

Katrina became the new Dark Master.

For all her magic and power, Katrina still had to fear the dawn. She feared that one day some fool would find her coffin during the day and destroy her while she was helpless.

There had to be some way to stop the day from dawning. There had to be some way to end this helplessness.

You do whatever it takes. If there are consequences – and there always are – you deal with them later.

Katrina’s story is a bit more complex than Erana’s. In the next article of this series, we’ll see the Dark Master in action.

Women of QfG4: Erana’s Peace

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

To the far north of the monster-plagued land of Spielburg, there is a small valley filled with flowers. It is a sanctuary from danger. Its tree provides food for the hungry. The thick carpet of colorful daisies makes a warm, fragrant bed for the weary. The air vibrates with a delicate melody that eases the soul. And to one side of the valley, there lies a granite rock carved like a gravestone with the words, “Erana’s Peace.”

Erana's StoryThe Quest for Glory series starts out with these questions, “Who was Erana? Why did she make this place of peace here in Spielburg? What happened to her?” Some of the people in the valley think she is dead. Erasmus the Wizard seems a little envious of her talents when he criticizes the fact that Erana’s magic protects the town from harm, but that she missed the alleyway. The sorceress Zara dismisses her magic as minor. The questions remained unanswerable in So You Want to be a Hero.

It took three more games to tell Erana’s story. Even as the game series ended, there were still questions unanswered about her. So now, it is time to tell the tale of a woman caught between two worlds who shared her loving soul everywhere she went on Gloriana and maybe, just maybe, was loved in return.

Magical Beginnings

Long ago, before the game series starts, Spielburg was a flourishing valley of farms and trade. It was also a powerful nexus for magic. Faerie Folk journeyed to this valley to draw upon its magic to create items of power.

A lovely young woman named Elaina from one of the nearby villages discovered that she had a talent for magic, but her parents tried to discourage her from learning to be a spellcaster. “Magic only leads to a life of loneliness and solitude,” they said. “Do you want to live like the old Healer in the woods? Everyone comes to her for favors, and nobody really likes her.. Better you should marry a nice boy, settle down, have children, and forget this foolish magic stuff.”

But Elaina could not deny the magic she felt in her very being. One night, she wrote a long, tearful farewell letter to her family and ran away from home. She sought out the Healer in the woods and asked to become her apprentice. There Elaina’s magical talents developed and grew.

So powerful was her magical ability that she attracted the attention of an Elf Lord who had come to the valley to recharge his magical staff. He soon seduced Elaina, but Elaina stole his heart as well. So while his duty to his people and his Queen kept him away most of the time, he returned whenever he could to Spielburg and his beloved Elaina.

Then Elaina bore him a daughter and named her “Erana.”

The Half-Blood Princess

EranaErana was a very loving child. Her skin was the golden color of late afternoon sunshine on the Autumn fields. Her hair was a mixture of her father’s honey curls and her mother’s auburn tresses. She was petite in frame and Faerie-like in face.

She also inherited both her parents’ exceptional magical talents.

The people of Spielburg feared this Half-Elf changeling. The Faerie Folk who traveled to the valley disdained and ignored the Half-Blood human. Erana’s friends were the animals of the forest and her playgrounds were the forests and fields. She loved to explore the wild places and to dance with the pixies. She was the sunshine in her mother’s and the healer’s lives.

As Erana grew up, her father visited the valley whenever he could. He delighted in his joyful daughter and his human lover. Then one day he was called to fight in the war between the Faerie and the Dark Ones in the distant land of Mordavia. He perished in the final battle that sealed off the cave of Avoozl.

Elaina and Erana had no idea what had happened to him. All they knew was that he didn’t return to them.

Faerie Trials

One day, an Elf Queen and her entourage entered the Spielburg valley seeking magic. She found Erana playing in a field surrounded by Pixies. The child showed great potential for power. What a waste! So the Queen had Erana kidnapped and carried off to the Faerie lands beyond the world.

For several years, Erana served the Queen and studied Faerie magic. She was treated as a slave by the Faerie Folk. However, by listening to their tales, Erana learned of her father’s sad fate. He had not forgotten or abandoned them. In his final moments, he called out Elaina’s name.

Finally, Erana became powerful enough with spells and knowledge to cross the world gate and return to Gloriana.

Spielburg Spells

When she returned to Spielburg, Erana discovered that decades had passed while she was gone. The Healer’s House was abandoned. In the weed patch that had once been a garden, she found the cobwebbed gravestones of her mother and the healer.

Erana's PeaceIn her grief, she created Erana’s Peace as a memorial to her mother and her father’s love for one another. Because the villagers of Spielburg had given her mother the respect of a gravestone, Erana also cast a spell to protect the town.

Then she began a restless journey to find a new place that she could find home.

Wizard’s World

She was invited to join the Wizard’s Institute of Technocery. She soon learned that the Wizards there were more interested in studying her magic and the Faerie folk than they were in teaching her. She was treated like an exotic creature in captivity. It was clear to Erana that WIT would never be a home to her. It was an academic temple removed from society to worship the study of magic. So after a few years of learning the basics of Wizardry, she returned to her wanderings through Gloriana.

Trail to Tarna

Tarna GardenFor a while, she made a home for herself in remote Fricana. The savannas and jungles had a wild beauty all their own. Here she could forget the sorrow of her past and practice her spells of magical peace. Here she created a staff made from the Heart of the World. Here she made a sanctuary where all creatures could drink peacefully.

But the Simbani people feared her for her magic. The city of Tarna forbade magic. Even the loveliness of the landscape could not console her loneliness.

For decades she traveled the world creating little pockets of peace and beauty wherever she went.

Mordavian Nightmares

Mordavian GardenThen one day, Erana’s journey took her to Mordavia to visit the site of her father’s death. She discovered that a cult had been working to open the gates of Avoozl and release the Dark One into the world. The cult had almost reopened what Erana’s father died to close.

She met the Paladin Piotyr as he fought to stop the cult. Together, they forced their way into the cave of the Dark One. The High Priest had already completed the ritual to open the portal between Gloriana and the Chaos Realm. The chaotic magic thus released transformed the High Priest into a loathsome monster. In madness and agony, the monster attacked Piotyr as Erana tried to close the ever-widening entrance between worlds.

The Dark One, Avoozl, fed upon magic and souls. Gloriana was a banquet hall too long denied to the starving Dark One. Avoozl fed upon the souls of the cultists. It could sense the power of Piotyr’s holy wrath and Erana’s magic, and it hungered for their souls.

Avoozl had fought the Faerie before and knew how to counteract Faerie magic. Wizard and Paladin magic, on the other hand, were very different. The combination of all three types of magic was too powerful. Erana and Piotyr drove Avoozl back to its own plane of existence.

As the gate was almost closed, Avoozl reached out one of its tentacles in furious desperation and pulled Erana across into the Chaos Realm.

Erana had a choice – She could stop the Ritual of Closing, try to free herself, and start the ritual over; or she could complete the spell and remain trapped in Avoozl’s lair. She could see Avoozl reaching through the gate with another tentacle of Avoozl to capture Piotyr.

Erana made her decision. She completed the ritual, sealing herself away in the Chaos Realm where Avoozl slowly devoured her soul. She was trapped in the agony of endless death in a realm where time has no meaning. Each second was like an eternity…

Until a Hero was summoned to Mordavia by a very different woman. The Hero reopened the gate between worlds, freeing Erana’s soul, and then sealed off the gate forever. Erana’s soul could at last find peace.

And thus ends the tragic tale of Erana.
Erana's Last Words?

 

Coda

Or perhaps the story doesn’t end there.

Perhaps the Hero can call her from beyond the grave to help save the world once again.

We’ll learn more about that in Quest for Glory 5.

[Okay, so in the last article, I said that I was writing about both Katrina and Erana this time… turns out there was just too much to write. Would you really want me to give these two ladies less than they were due?]

Shady Ladies of Shadows of Darkness

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness will always be my favorite game of the series.

Shadows CD Version BoxHalloween is my favorite season of the year. While I’m not a big horror fan, I do love the spooky, eerie, creepiness of a well-told ghost story. I grew up reading Poe, Saki, Lovecraft, and Stoker. We were inspired by films like Dracula and Frankenstein. Young Frankenstein by Mel Brooks and “Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein” showed us how funny horror can be.

I wanted Shadows of Darkness to be full of tricks and treats just like Halloween.

However, when I started to write this series about the women of Quest for Glory, I had thought that Shadows of Darkness would be pretty far down on the list when it came to having strong women. After all, it only really had one woman, and she was the villain.

Silly me. No, now that I think about it, the game really is about two very strong women. Or possibly about three… or four… And it tells the story of several more.

I had thought that Shadows of Darkness was all about Halloween.

It’s really a story of love and redemption.

Damsels in Distress Yet Again

There are many damsels in distress in this game. There are many men in distress, too. There’s even a Domovoi in distress. You could say the entire game is about people living in the shadows of fear and hopelessness. It’s up to the Hero to bring some light into this world.

AnnaAnna is a ghost who doesn’t know that she is dead. The Hero has to reunite her with her beloved Nikolai to free both their souls.

The shopkeeper misses her missing husband. The Hero has to listen to her and her husband complaining about one another. Then the Hero helps them realize that they still love each another.

And that’s just part of the story…

The lady in the lake is spending her afterlife avenging herself for the wrong that someone else did to her.

The innkeeper’s wife is in distress because everyone believes that her daughter is dead, but she is unwilling to accept that her child is gone forever.

A small child misses her mommy and daddy.

A loving and powerful Wizard is trapped in the chaos between worlds.

All in all, Mordavia really isn’t a very happy place to be.

The Hunger Game

The one powerful female in the game who isn’t in distress is Baba Yaga. She came here to get away from the embarrassment of being turned into a frog by her own spell.

Baba YagaHowever, when the Hero comes walking into her hut again after all the grief he caused her, she doesn’t just serve the Hero with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. She talks to him a little before she decides to serve her vengeance cold with some eye scream. She chooses instead to make a deal with him, which involves something suitably yummy to her admittedly eclectic taste.

It’s clear that the way to Baba’s heart is through her stomach.

Leader of the Pack

MagdaThe Gypsy Leader, Magda, doesn’t need rescuing, but her son does. Gypsy Davy is accused by the superstitious villagers of being a werewolf and eating Igor, the gravedigger. Once the Hero rescues Igor from his untimely grave and thus proves that Gypsy Davy is innocent, the Gypsies will accept the Hero as a friend.

Foolish villagers – the Gypsies aren’t Werewolves. Werewolves are cursed. The Gypsies are Shapechangers. They don’t have to wait for a full moon to turn into a wolf. These shapechangers do not turn into mindless beasts. They have no interest in eating dirty, smelly gravediggers.

They also have a matriarchy ruled by an Alpha female who can tell the future with tarot cards.

Magda is nobody’s bitch.

Lady in the Lake

Many of the creatures who populate Mordavia were pulled from Slavic Folklore. The Rusalka is one such creature.

RusalkaThe Rusalka, Elyssa, doesn’t pull men to their watery graves because she hates men. Elyssa became a Rusalka because that’s the sort of curse you get stuck with when your untrue lover drowns you in a magical lake because you didn’t put out.

Any Hero can befriend Elyssa, but only the Paladin can set her soul free by breaking the bond between her spirit and that of her murderer. Then the Paladin has to show her what it means to be kind and loving by kissing her cold, clay lips. Only then can the curse be broken and Elyssa’s soul go to her rest.

Faerie Dust

Faerie QueenThe Magic User is the Hero who meets the Faerie Queen. She’s come to Mordavia in order to claim the staff of Erana that protects the town. However, she is thwarted because it will take a great sacrifice to take the staff. Unfortunately, none of her minions is willing to make the sacrifice so that the Faerie Queen can take Erana’s staff.

So the Faerie Queen does what most villainesses in QfG do – She gets the Hero to claim the staff for her.

We’ve met Faeries in the very first game of the series. Zara showed the same sort of arrogance and disdain for humans that the Faerie Queen shows here.

The Faerie Queen doesn’t care who gets sacrificed or betrayed so that she can get what she wants. She’s too arrogant and powerful to let the Hero keep the staff. She intends to deceive and kill the Magic-User to get Erana’s Staff.

The Faerie Queen, like so many other villains, is too full of her own sense of power and importance to think for a moment that a mere human could defeat her.

The Magic-User proves just how wrong she was. Being the one actually wielding the powerful magical staff of Erana doesn’t hurt.

Child of Darkness

TanyaTanya is the real victim of this story. Love is the cause of her plight and love is her savior. She was a loving child who was overprotected by her loving mother. She was imprisoned in the inn to protect her from unknown dangers.

Somehow, Tanya attracted the attention of the Dark Master, Katrina. Katrina had her pet monster Toby rescue/kidnap Tanya from the inn. Then Katrina gave Tanya the gift of eternal youth – through death and “rebirth” as a Vampire. Katrina adopted Tanya as the daughter she had always wanted. Katrina and Toby truly loved Tanya in their own ways.

But Tanya never forgot her human mommy and daddy.

It’s up to the Hero to rescue Tanya from the castle. It is Toby, though, who allows himself to be sacrificed to bring Tanya back to life. It is Toby’s love for Tanya that saves her from Undeath.

Yes, Tanya is restored to her loving parents.

However, the Hero deeply hurt Katrina by doing so. She considers him responsible for Toby’s death and the loss of Katrina’s “adopted daughter”, Tanya.

Love Bites

So yes, Shadows of Darkness is where Slavic Folklore meets H.P. Lovecraft. It’s about Vampires, Ghosts, Undead, and Mad Scientists. It’s about deceit, betrayal, and death. It’s about superstition and prejudice.

But most of all, Shadows of Darkness is about Love – The love of Power and the power of Love.


There are two more women who are at the very center of Shadows of Darkness. I will write more about Katrina and Erana next week.