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I Need Help Filling In "Holes" In Each Of My Protagonists' Backstories

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by MrCreativeMight, May 21, 2021.

  1. MrCreativeMight

    MrCreativeMight Acolyte

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    Hello, hello, helloooo.

    This is my first time on this forum, so this is basically my first post here. I'm pretty much more interested in getting my "holes" filled in than properly introducing myself in Introductions at the moment. When I feel like it, I'll introduce myself in Introductions.

    Anyways, here's the situation:

    I've had ideas for a fantasy video game since 2020. I've managed to come up with many things such as gameplay mechanics, and especially the story and characters. What I'm struggling with at the moment is that each of my 4 protagonists' backstories are W.I.P because even though I managed to come up with many things for each of their backstories, there are still some "holes" which I can't come up with more details to fill them in. If anyone could give me some suggestions on what details I could add to fill those "holes" in, that would be appreciated.

    Here are what I have so far for each of my protagonists' backstories and what "holes" need to be filled in. Each of the characters are different species, and each of their backstories take place just before each of the protagonists are hired by the kingdom to go on the main quest which the game revolves around. Each of the characters are addressed with code names since I can't come up with names for each of them at the moment. The characters are sorted from oldest to youngest:

    "Yeti Berserker"

    Species: Yeti

    Gender: Male

    Age: 25 (Oldest)

    Backstory: He is a member of a yeti clan in a cold region far from the kingdom. Prior to the main events, there was a conflict between his clan and a neighboring clan. Many battles broke out in the region, but his clan succeeded when he slayed the opposing clan's leader, driving them away. It is because of this that he is considered a veteran among his clan.

    "Holes" that need to be filled in:

    - Why was there a conflict between his own clan and the neighboring clan? What started it?

    - How would the king/kingdom know about him, the conflict, and that he slayed the other clan's leader? (Knowing about this would be essential so that he would hire him to go on the quest)

    "Cabbit Warrior"

    Species: Cabbit

    Gender: Female

    Age: 22 (2nd Oldest)

    Backstory: At just 16 years old, she was abducted by a guild of bandits, and forced as a personal slave/concubine for their leader. Prior to the main events, an insurrection broke out within the guild; one that she was on neither side of, so she fought her way out of the bandit fortress, slaying bandits of both sides, also slayed the leader, and finally escaped the bandit fortress after 6 years of being a slave.\

    "Holes" that need to be filled in:

    - Why was there an insurrection/betrayal within the bandit guild? What started it?

    - Why was she not on either side?

    - How would the king/kingdom know about her and how she slayed so many bandits while escaping?

    "Kitsune Mage"

    Species: Kitsune

    Gender: Male

    Age: 22 (2nd Youngest)

    Backstory: He is a 2nd-year student at a mage college. He spend his years in college going through staff training and learning the ways of storm spells. Prior to the main events, there were 6th-year students who were attempting to carry out a scheme that would have doomed the entire school. The kitsune mage discovered this, and confronted the students; resulting in a fight between him and the traitors. Since the defeat and expelling of the students, the kitsune mage is considered a "hero" in the college from then on.

    "Holes" that need to be filled in:

    - Why did the 6th-year students attempt to carry out the scheme?

    - What was the scheme that they tried to carry out that would have doomed the college?

    - How did the kitsune mage discover the scheme, prompting him to confront them?

    "Dragon Girl"

    Species: Dragon

    Gender: Female

    Age: 19 (Youngest)

    Backstory: She grew up living in a disorderly household consisting of dysfunctional parents (whom she still cared about) and an older brother (older by 7 years) whom she was often bullied by and fought with (that's how she gained her combat experience). Prior to the main events, her parents were murdered by her own brother. She faced him off in a fight that resulted in her beating her own brother, and sending him to prison.

    "Holes" that need to be filled in:

    - Why were her parents dysfunctional, and why did she still care about them?

    - Why did her brother murder their own parents?

    Eventually after all of those events which conveniently took place just before the main events of the game, each of the protagonists would be hired by the kingdom to go on the quest to stop the ancient monsters that were awakened by a mercenary organization (spanning the main events of the game).

    Anyways, that's all I have so far. All I need now are some suggestions for what details I could add in order to fill in those "holes". I am also open for general feedback/critiques for what I have for each of my backstories so far. If you have any general questions about anything, let me know.

    Thank you, and I can't wait to hear your suggestions. I am also happy to be here on Mythic Scribes Writing Forums, and when I feel like it, I will properly introduce myself at Introductions.
     
    CupofJoe likes this.
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I'd just try something for one of the "holes" and see where it takes you.
     
  3. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

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    Your cabbit probably isn't on either side of the conflict because both parties have abused her and they both would continue to abuse her, regardless of who's in power. When the two sides fought, she used the chaos as a chance to escape. Maybe some of the bandits decided "screw this, I'm out!" and left to become adventurers/mercanaries/regular jobs and they shared the story of their slave girl being surprsingly good at killing people as she escaped (maybe people don't expect cabbits to be able to fight at all? So they all underestimated her).

    If you've ever talked to anyone who's had dysfunctional parents...you'd understand why they still care about them. We're socially programmed to believe that our parents love us and do whatever they can for us and that we need to love and respect them, because they are our parents, it's what we must do. A parent can be horribly abusive and litterally torture their child and the child could still defend them/refuse to testify in court, because this "social contract" that you're forced into states that you must do that. But as your character is a dragon, having them work with the same social norms as humans might not make sense. What are other dragon families like? Are they like most reptiles and don't have any interaction with their children at all? Or do they raise them communally like lions? Are they normally polygamous but these parents are choosing to be monogamous (but doing so in an unhealthy way)? Maybe the brother was sick of the abuse and wanted to put an end to it, maybe he's ashamed that his parents are so different form other dragons, maybe he's just evil! Who knows.

    I guess the most important question I have for you is: how much of this stuff is important for this stage of creating your game? Like I'm currently developing an idea for a piece of interactive fiction and I COULD be hammering out every detail of the characters...but what's most important at this stage is figuring out what I can do with the format I plan this to be in. The story/experience is so tightly attached to the 1 mechanic and I want the reader/player to think about and approach things in a specific way. The narrative needs to introduce the mechanic in a natural way, and the characters need to utilize the mechanic in a way that fits them. Example: Life is Strange is a game about making chioces, but you can rewind a little bit, make different choices, see how they unfold, and then finally commit to one; the player needs to think about their choices and how they effect others, but they also do so in a non-committal way; the MC discovers she has these supernatural powers to rewind time using the photos she takes by thinking something a normal teen girl would think; she's a teen girl who has some past regrets and cares for her friends, but some people more than others. Also she's a photographer, so it makes sense for her to have all these photos of innocous things. When you approach games from this "top down" method, you expand things as needed and everything builds on each other.

    What stage are you at? Do you have character concept art? Do you know what the world looks like? The UI? What tone are you going for? Who is the target audience? How do you want the player to interact with the game and what relationship do you want them to have with these characters? How do the characters interact with each other? I find that when I ask myself "Yeah, but WHY?" it helps me make the next step and gives me more leads for new ideas. You want a scene where the cabbit and the dragon fight, but why are they fighting? Maybe the dragon thinks killing people is never okay but the cabbit is really flippant about it. Maybe it's because the dragon was so affected by her brother's actions. So maybe this means that dragons are normally not violent at all, they're known across species for being peaceful beings, so her parents created an enviornment that was wildly different. Maybe they killed humans/other species for fun, to take their stuff, because they think they're better than them, but they knew this was wrong and made sure their children wouldn't tell anyone else about this. etc etc
     
    cak85 likes this.
  4. Malise

    Malise Scribe

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    Yeti 'hole' suggestion: Yeti's are from the Himilayas, where food-producing land is scarce. So fights over territory should be a good enough conflict. Some Himalayan cultures (like Gurkas) have a strong warrior valor culture embedded in them, so word of mouth of who killed who should get around pretty fast.

    Cabit hole suggestion: In organized crime, top enforcers trying to take over their old bosses' position is the most common cause for an insurrection. Cabit could just not be on either side because she was a snitch for the feds. And being a fed asset is how she got known in the kingdom.

    Kitsune Guy: 6th years used the dark arts to rush a senior thesis that they all procrastinated on. Kitsune guy was a teacher's pet, so he wrecked them.

    Dragon Girl: Parents are treasure hunting hoarders, hoarders are dysfunctional. Brother killed parents to rob them.

    Just some FYI's for Kitsunes: Kitsunes are 100% female succubus race in Japanese myth who exist to seduce and defile human men. So their domain would be brainwashing, ESP-like powers, instead of storms, and the would work for the powers of evil. However, I have seen one Japanese video game with a huge western audience with a non-succubus male kitsune, so I guess anything goes nowadays. Just a heads up if you didn't know already.
     
    cak85 likes this.
  5. cak85

    cak85 Minstrel

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    I think even more important than understanding a character's backstory is how it impacts them in the present. Everyone has a past and everyone is impacted by something that happened in their past.

    My answer would be to know as much as you need to know to move forward.

    Taking the Cabbit example:

    Questions I'd ask - how does this insurrection directly impact her?

    As a potential player the reason this insurrection started wouldn't really matter that much to me. It could even be something as simple as one of the bandit people didn't like something the leader said to him or about him. That normally leads to conflict among hot-headed people. As a reader (game player) I would be more interested in how this Cabbit is impacted and what does she do after? Maybe she uses this as an opportunity to to take revenge on her abusers? Maybe she flees? Maybe she sets herself up as crime lord? Maybe like the Fish Mooney character from Gotham.

    I would also really caution you to think about this particular character. It sounds very close to the damaging trope of a woman becoming strong because she was assaulted by a powerful man. I'm not saying not to do it. I am just saying to think carefully about this choice and its implications.
     
  6. MrCreativeMight

    MrCreativeMight Acolyte

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    Hello. First of all, thank you very much for the feedback and suggestions for some of the "holes".

    Now, here are my responses for some of the things you said:

    I feel like something I should have specified in the post is that all characters are supposed to be anthro/furry-types. So basically the yeti, cabbit, kitsune, and dragon are all anthros and can have human-like personalities, and you probably thought the dragon was feral/on all fours and living in a cave, but she was living in a house.

    As for why having backstories for each of my protagonists is important to me at this stage of developing my game: I don't want my characters to be introduced as blank slates for when players start playing for the first time. One of the early cutscenes could show a discussion between the king and (idk who) about who he hired and why he hired them. He would bring up where they got their experience which is why he hired them for the job (Example: when he talks about the dragon, he brings up that she defeated her brother who is in prison and awaiting death row). I also would like some details of their backstories to be brought up in in-game biographies, and maybe a series of videos (either as separate pieces of media or secret videos that can be unlocked like Halo Anniversary terminal videos) could actually depict their backstories as well as the other details that weren't mentioned neither by the king or the biographies.

    As for what stage I'm at with my game: I'm still on the writing stage. I've already thought of some gameplay stuff such as that you can switch between all 4 protagonists, they each have three special abilities, etc... and it's obvious that here I am now on the writing stage.

    I feel like the UI elements would have a fantasy style/font, and of course would have health bars, ability meters, ally status, etc.

    The tone I'm going for is a fantasy adventure tone. I've been into fantasy stuff like Elder Scrolls, Lord of The Rings, you name it. I aim the game for players who like fantasy, adventure, story-driven, and fighting games.

    I envision the world of the game being a average/serious fantasy world of castles, temples, strange creatures, yeah... The art style I would envision as a 3D cartoony style on the same level as Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

    I do not have character concept art, but I've wanted to commission a furry artist on FurAffinity Forums to create turnaround references for 3D models (to use in the game and in the CGI pre-rendered cutscenes). Even though I don't have character concept art, I do have a vision for each character (I'll only mention the cabbit and the dragon since these are the only two protagonists you brought up):

    - The cabbit naturally has a rabbit-like head, rabbit-like ears, sabretooth-like teeth, and a cat-like tail. She wears a slave outfit similar to slave Leia in Star Wars VI. She keeps it throughout the game (but with a cape) because it's lightwight so she can perform her sprinting and dashing abilities that she can perform in-game. She also killed so many bandits while escaping and wearing that outfit, so she can conclude that she can fight and survive in it despite the fact that it was the very outfit which she had been forced to dance in for 6 years. She is equipped with two dual-wieldable swords as her main weaponry, and a crossbow.

    - The dragon naturally has (asides from horns) shoulder-length red hair with an icy-blue streak (I was originally going to make the streak yellow so she could look like Geri Halliwell in the Spice Girls). I don't know about scale colors. She wears a lightweight skimpy fighting outfit (I envision being similar to either Krystal in Star Fox or Kitana in Mortal Kombat). She originally wore peasant clothes and had longer hair, but after learning that her brother killed their parents, she purchased the outfit and gave herself a shoulder-length haircut. She is equipped with a crossbow even though her primary weaponry would be her fire and ice breaths and her claws.

    Then there's the personalities: the dragon is the only character whose personality was the easiest for me to come up with. As a result of growing up in a disorderly household and being picked on often by her older brother, she is the most aggressive of all the protagonists, and has a somewhat irritable, cocky, and pessimistic personality, which would make her seem like the "anti-hero" in the game. Being the most aggressive of the protagonists, she is the one who tends to spit out the most insults towards the enemies in the game. Despite possessing so many antagonistic traits on the outside, she obviously has to have a bright side on the inside. She cared so much for her parents despite their dysfunctionality (and you already gave me a possibility on why she would still care), and she would commit good deeds and acts of kindness. In other words: despite her aggression, anger issues, and the fact that she does a lot of killing in the game, she wouldn't hurt a fly, and she would help a lost child.

    I can't really come up with how do each of the characters interact with each other at the moment, so it might be something else I'll ask for help on another time.

    A scene where the dragon and cabbit fight each other sounds like a cool idea, but I don't know where to insert it and if it would work in the game (like is it a cutscene?). It could be what happened when they first met, but I originally thought they would first meet when both of them where hired for the job. Or if the fight would happen mid-story, would they have gotten into an argument?

    Again, thank you very much for your feedback and suggestions. This was just a response to everything else you said.
     
  7. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

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    I'm not going to fill the holes (some good suggestions were given already), but I will mention one thing I noticed. You have for characters, two make and two female.

    The two males come from a normal home and have heroic back stories. The two females are either abducted and abused or from a broken home. While it's your story and you can do whatever you want, for me it's a potential worry and something to look at.
     
    Chasejxyz and cak85 like this.
  8. MrCreativeMight

    MrCreativeMight Acolyte

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    Hello. First of all, thank you for your feedback and suggestions.

    Now, here's my response:

    I'm not sure how exactly would the insurrection have impacted her, but I wrote it in anyway as an explanation for how she managed to escape. She obviously used it as an opportunity to escape. She also found the leader dying from the wounds inflicted by the rebel bandits, and when she was about to leave him, she thought about all the things he did to her, and decided to end him anyway. She killed those other bandits because (well, another user suggested this to me, and I think I'm gonna accept it) both parties have abused her and would continue to abuse her, regardless of who's in power (I guess either side would have still taken her as their slave girl). All of the bandits tried to prevent her from escaping whenever they saw her, so she killed them.

    As for what she does after: Well, I indicated it myself in the post. Word got out about her, her escape, and how she was surprisingly good as killing so many bandits, so the king/kingdom decided to hire her to go on the quest with the other protagonists.

    As for why having backstories for each of my protagonists is important to me at this stage of developing my game: I don't want my characters to be introduced as blank slates for when players start playing for the first time. One of the early cutscenes could show a discussion between the king and (idk who) about who he hired and why he hired them. He would bring up where they got their experience which is why he hired them for the job (Example: when he talks about the dragon, he brings up that she defeated her brother who is in prison and awaiting death row). I also would like some details of their backstories to be brought up in in-game biographies, and maybe a series of videos (either as separate pieces of media or secret videos that can be unlocked like Halo Anniversary terminal videos) could actually depict their backstories as well as the other details that weren't mentioned neither by the king or the biographies.

    Again, thank you very much for your feedback and suggestions.
     
  9. MrCreativeMight

    MrCreativeMight Acolyte

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    Hmmm... something for me to think about even though I feel like I might not change the stories. I get it though that it might seem stereotypical like how in the game, the males would have slow speed but more health while the females have fast speed but less health.

    Thank you very much for that critique though.
     
  10. MrCreativeMight

    MrCreativeMight Acolyte

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    I remembered that Kitsunes look like foxes with multiple tails (I envision my character having three tails because one tail would make him look like a normal fox while two tails would make him look like Miles Tails Prower from Sonic) and that they have some magical/mystic power, but I didn't remember that all of them are females and that they use brainwashing powers for evil. The reason why my kitsune uses storm-related abilities (plus a healing spell) with a staff is because the abilities were suggestions from users on r/fantasywriters on Reddit who were giving me suggestions for character abilities. I made a kitsune mage character in the first place because I wanted a magic-user, and I felt like a kitsune would fit since it had a connection to magic/mystic ways. I guess in my world, all kitsunes are born as magic-users, so that they can use staves and enroll in mage colleges, and are obviously different from the original kitsunes in Japanese folklore.
     
  11. cak85

    cak85 Minstrel

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    Alright well it sounds like you have most if planned out, which is good.

    I think you missed my point tough. I am saying that the Cabbit's backstory would make me pretty uncomfortable as a potential player of this game.
     
  12. Malise

    Malise Scribe

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    MrCreativeMightMrCreativeMight

    Actually did some backup research. I'm actually wrong about Kitsune's being 100% female, it's more like 95ish% (so that's why I assumed that they were all female through cultural osmosis, I'm not Japanese), but the male forms they do take are elderly men instead of young boys/men.

    However, I do want to give you another heads up. Shintoism is still a living religion and kitsunes are part of the religion. In fact, they're connected to Inari (one of the most important gods of the pantheon), are associated with belief in mental health, and are tied directly to Japanese Buddhism. Although Japan is indeed secular, it doesn't mean that there aren't hardcore Japanese Buddhist/Shintoists out there.

    So I say it's risky to portray them in an unorthodox way, especially if you can not handwave it by saying you're Japanese like the video game guy I mentioned. Other video game creators have caught flack for butchering the representation of other living polytheist religions, such as Hindu and Chinese Folk Religion, but were allowed to put the gods back into the game once they made lore-accurate but expensiveve fixes. So tread carefully.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2021
    cak85 likes this.
  13. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Just wanted to toss this out there for authenticity's sake and from my admittedly little experience with modern Japanese. There is only one terminal consonant in Japanese, and that is 'n.' So, the singular of kitsune is 'kitsune,' as is the plural. Singular and plural the vast majority of the time are determined by context.

    If anyone has more information on the subject, I would love to hear it. My brain is like a trap... an old, rusty bear trap.
     
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  14. Malise

    Malise Scribe

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    A. E. LowanA. E. Lowan

    Oh okay thanks, didn't know that! I've always heard about how Japanese is high context, but never really understood how. I just assumed it mostly had to do with the "zoom out" sentence structure they had where details are always mentioned first, so you would just have to read the room and assume the bigger picture.
     
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