RPG narrative design and a text-based adventure game demo

Designing, writing and organising a full Dungeons and Dragons story that I plan to publish later has taught me project and time management as well as narrative and puzzle design. I have learned how to keep the players engaged with the experience via the challenge-reward or mystery and reveal-mechanics – providing them riddles, difficult levels and bosses and then rewarding them for their solved encounters with story reveals, items or fun interactions.

I also want to encourage the players’ role-playing, which is why I aim to create settings that gently guide the players yet leave enough room for choices. On the course of running the story I have taken enjoyment in enhancing the player experience via the use of additional DIY-sound effects, props and visual effects.

The campaign is a 10 chapter story, each chapter consisting of roughly 10 play sessions.

I have mapped the dramatical structure and emotional changes of the overall story. The structure is vaguely based on the nine act story structure used in movies.

In addition to the main plot, each chapter also has a similar sort of dramatic structure with turning points and climax. I also aim to manage suspense within each play session to a balance the exploration, combat and story, mystery and reveal to make a pleasant player experience.

Based on the campaign, I created a short text-based adventure game to demonstrate a part of a particular RPG story arc.

The game is currently in Finnish only, and can be played in browser through the following link:

Set in a fantasy world, the game is a multiple campaign RPG-story where the player heroes happen to get in the way of the story’s villainous organisation “Kultalusikoiden kilta” (“The Guild of The Golden Spoons”).

The starting world consists of two continents, Gleadia and Eigia. The southern side of Gleadia is a mediterranean-climate metropolitan area, where everyone can live peacefully under the protection of Merios, the federation of the area. The northern side of Gleadia is covered in dangerous icy glaciers, where only dragonborns live in deep crevasses. The southern continent, Eigia, is mostly uncharted areas except for its main swamp-based and magic-focused city, Auerinna.

The story begins when the party is summoned from around the world to Rosantia, a large trade city in Gleadia. They are given a task which they only complete halfway until they meet a trickster demigod who sends them to a far, far away jungle south of Eigia. From there the party has to return to complete their mission, but along the way they run into a moving tavern, end up inside a sleeping dragon, ruin a secret party of a magical noble villain and eventually end up in an even larger party of the villains’ organisation – the Guild of the Golden Spoons.

The huge celebration is held at a large arena, aimed for all nobility yet organised by the Guild of the Golden Spoons and their ruthless leader. Underneath the arena are strange arcane markings that have drained the nearby land and the fields of the farmers, yet the nobles still celebrate seemingly unknowing of the damage. The heroes win a gladiator battle at the arena, gain a lot of attention from the audience and then accidentally discover the meaning of the arcane markings – and open a first portal to another dimension, ruining the villainous guild’s plans yet causing heavy collateral damage. Soon after the magic users amongst our heroes start dreaming of strange things.

In their desperate escape from the arena, the heroes end up finding new technologies and other oddities in this high fantasy world. With all of their personal character backstories involved, the heroes now have to stick together to investigate the nefarious plans of the Guild of the Golden Spoons and to prepare themselves against their viles.

What are the portals for, why is the guild interested in them, and what do the heroes have to do with all that?

Published by Virpi Väinölä