Beginner's Guide to Creating a RPG Story!

Koopa

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Beginner's Guide to Creating a RPG Story!

NOTE: I know this has been done before, but I spent a long time making this.

Introduction
So, you want to make an RPG? First, you need a story. However, a story can be one of the hardest parts to make. This tutorial will take you through all the steps to create a decent RPG story from scratch.

Contents
1. Before You Start
2. Plot
3. Characters
4. Goals
5. Event Flow
6. Title
7. Other things

Before You Start...
You must get some idea about what the story will be. At this step you need to just think of the general, generic idea. Here are some examples...
- Hero goes to kill Evil King
- Hero travels through space
- Giant mushroom goes on a journey to find more tuna
See? Just come up with the bare-bones of the story. Now we can actually start...

The Plot
You absolutely HAVE to get this first. Why is your character doing what he/she is doing? (Hint: Try to avoid revenge as it is cliche and tends to get messy) And don't put a lot of detail into it. Here is some examples...
- Rick's sister is kidnapped by an evil king. Rick goes to rescue his sister.
Pretty basic, huh? But this is a good start. You can add more onto this later. Now here is an example of something wrong...
- Rick goes hunting one day. While he is gone, his sister, Sophia, is tending to her garden when the evil king Raul attacks the town. He kidnaps Sophia and lays the town to waste. Rick returns to the ruined town to find that Sophia is gone. He is filled with rage and runs after the evil king with hopes of rescuing her. Meanwhile, in a desert town...
See? Really complex. This is a full-blown story. We aren't there yet. (But, if you can manage to get this much this quickly, you're pretty talented.)

Anyway, now for the next step...

Characters
What are your characters like? Make sure you don't just describe the main hero. Describe the hero, the allies, important NPCs, and major enemies. Here is a template I like to use for describing characters...

Name<-- Pretty obvious, but make the name fit the character. Don't call some little guy "Killer".
Age: __<-- Again, obvious. It lets you know how the character may act in certain situations. Younger people usually are more rash and impulsive than older people.
Race: ___<-- List if they are human or some other type of race. Lots of games make their own races. So be creative.
Class: ___<-- This will tell what kind of skills and weapons they will use. Good classes would be like swordsman, mage, cleric, etc...
Bio: _________<-- Give details about the character's personality, connections to other characters, history of the character, etc...

It's also a good idea to make some type of picture to show what the character looks like. Just remember to do this for all important character. Now for the next step...

Goals
What is the hero trying to do? What is the Evil character trying to do? What is the annoying sidekick trying to do? This is where goals come in. They are usually simple one sentence things. Here are some examples...
- Main hero: Rick- Rescue his sister.
- Ally: Bob- Prove he can still fight despite his age.
- Evil guy: Evil King Raul- Sacrifice Sophia in order to open the gate of power and rule the galaxy.
- Important NPC: Sophia- Not be sacrificed.
Very simple. And from this you can come up with a good storyline. And some characters can have multiple goals. If they do, just list them all. Now for the next step...

Event Flow
Alright, this is where you finally get to plan out the flow of the RPG. Basically all you do is list the major events in order. Once you have the major events made, some smaller event ideas may (And most likely will) come to you and you can find places to fit them in. You can make an Event Flow in any organized way, but here is an example of how I did one for the example game...

Rick goes to hunt in the forest --> Town is attacked, Sophia is kidnapped --> Rick leaves town to go rescue Sophia --> Rick loses trail near ice town --> Rick enters ice town and meets Bob --> Bob asks Rick if he can help him destroy a beast --> Rick and Bob leave to go defeat beast --> Defeat beast --> Rick is told that Raul was headed towards a desert town-->... And so on and so forth...

So, this will give you an idea on how to go about making a game. Now for another step...

The Title
This can be a hard part of the game. There are a few rules that should be followed...
1. Make the title have some thing to do with the story.
2. Avoid using "Legend of", "Adventures of", and other things like that, as they are cliche.
3. Avoid using the words "Last", "Final", or "End" unless you don't plan on having a sequel.
And that is all. Here is the title I came up for the example game- "Gate of Power" (Remember, I spent 5 minutes thinking of this entire story. You will probably spend much longer.) Well, we are almost done. All that is left is fill in the...

Other Things
This includes...
- Town names
- Magic
- Side quests
- And anything else you can think of.
Town names can be hard. A good idea is to use real town names. Just don't use anything like New York. Use small town names. There is a town near my house called Yokina. That would be a good RPG town name.
Magic names are important only if the magic is used in the story. Come up with original names. Don't use stuff like Fire, Water, Ice... And DO NOT use magic spells widely used in the Final Fantasy series. Stuff like Ultima. It makes your game not seem as original.
Side quests can be thought of later. Basically just make them missions that you just get something good at the end. If it includes part of the main story, it in NOT a side quest.

Well, that is all I can think of to help you beginners out there with your story. I hope this helps someone.
 

Sinakhai

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This is interesting, I'm not sure if it's very well thought out, but it's interesting. The thing about storytelling in video games is that you need to learn the basic about storytelling in general, then you can focus on storytelling for a specific type of media.

Working with plots, sub plots and characters is difficult, specially when there is an external influence ( the player) involved. Instead of following a process or "recipe" I think is best to practice and well, basically, write and write, read books about the craft and only after that try to adapt to video game storytelling.

You make a good point when it comes to cliches, but IMHO your approach would be more restrictive than helpful for beginners.
 
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c0sa

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What a really nice guide! Gave me some ideas, since I'm working basically on the mechanics of the game first and I'm leaving the storyline for later. P:
 

Milennin

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Magic names are important only if the magic is used in the story. Come up with original names. Don't use stuff like Fire, Water, Ice... And DO NOT use magic spells widely used in the Final Fantasy series. Stuff like Ultima. It makes your game not seem as original.
I don't see what's wrong with Fire, Water, Ice for basic magic attacks, though. It's simple and to the point. Yeah, you can use longer names, but chances are they won't be original because thousands of RPGs have already used the names for these spells anyway. Short and simple names are also easier to remember than stuff like Kujytal's Raging Inferno, Catastrophic Flood and Bone-shattering Ice Piercer (lol).
 

Koopa

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I don't see what's wrong with Fire, Water, Ice for basic magic attacks, though. It's simple and to the point. Yeah, you can use longer names, but chances are they won't be original because thousands of RPGs have already used the names for these spells anyway. Short and simple names are also easier to remember than stuff like Kujytal's Raging Inferno, Catastrophic Flood and Bone-shattering Ice Piercer (lol).
Yeah I mean for basic spells fine, but advanced spells should be a little more complex.

What a really nice guide! Gave me some ideas, since I'm working basically on the mechanics of the game first and I'm leaving the storyline for later. P:
Thank's!

This is interesting, I'm not sure if it's very well thought out, but it's interesting. The thing about storytelling in video games is that you need to learn the basic about storytelling in general, then you can focus on storytelling for a specific type of media.

Working with plots, sub plots and characters is difficult, specially when there is an external influence ( the player) involved. Instead of following a process or "recipe" I think is best to practice and well, basically, write and write, read books about the craft and only after that try to adapt to video game storytelling.

You make a good point when it comes to cliches, but IMHO your approach would be more restrictive than helpful for beginners.
I'm Confused .-.
 

Sinakhai

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You are giving a recipe, a mechanical guideline to create a generic story. And even though you cover a couple of interesting points, in general your tutorial is quite limited, or like I said, restricted. Each point of your tutorial requires an in depth tutorial not just a summary.

I'm not a great writer myself, but I recognize a few of your mistakes. You see, I teach literature/languages for a living  :| .
 
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Koopa

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You are giving a recipe, a mechanic guideline to create a generic story. And even though you cover a couple of interesting points, in general your tutorial is quite limited, or like I said, restricted. Each point of your tutorial requires an in depth tutorial not just a summary.

I'm not a great writer myself, but I recognize a few of your mistakes. You see, I teach literature/languages for a living  :| .
Oh :|   well then, I am sorry... ;_;

I worked my best on it I am not even the best English speaker so that may be the problem... I do not know as many words :stare:
 

Sinakhai

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Don't be sorry, like I said,it's interesting and a good effort. And don't worry, English is not my first language either and I've been in your position several times.

A couple of things that may be of use to expand your tutorial.

Put One Word After Another: Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing

1. Write
2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
7. Laugh at your own jokes.
8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ¬honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.
 
Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling


These rules were originally tweeted by Emma Coates, Pixar’s Story Artist. Number 9 on the list - When you’re stuck, make a list of what wouldn’t happen next – is a great one and can apply to writers in all genres.
1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
14. Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
 

Jef299

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I like your guide.

Some of it was helpful!
 

Dignatio

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Nice job Koop
 
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dragonborn99

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oohhh... intersting... there a some flaws but this is very insperational and helpful!

GREAT JOB!
 

Physeter

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Koop: Thank you for your guide. It is not very detailed but it nails the most important points!

Sinakhai: Thank you also for your input. The lists you provided are very interesting.
 

Tigersong

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Very nice job, Kooper! If I might suggest something, though, remember that not all RPGs are fantasy. Some might even be science fiction with magic.
 

Mythran

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Sinakhai i just created an account for you. Your words are nothing more than

Discouraging people from going forward...

Once i saw someone that posted "you wanna learn programming?" it was a 20+gb of proggraming tutorials... well if you wanna do something you don't have to know it all... in my opinion you just should kill yourself because you surelly don't know everything about living a life... yet you live... :\ wtf... nothing is perfect... yet the best direction is to do something instead of just saying! This is a fc* begginers tutorial.. not a masters and perfect... :\ Great work. People who begans from here surely will develop more skills on their own! Great JOB! Keep ON!

I know i'm being aggressive in here, but i just can't stand people that say that is not even near enough :x If you know more you just have posted well... here's one more help besides that you could add that and that... instead you just said... go read books... :\ wtf :( why talk to each other and share opinions and share other points of view...

just...

go read books...

But your tutorial is also welcome ;)
 
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Mythran

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Also Sinakhai i dont mean your wrong... But this is just a begginers... A start point... from here people will create ideas... i know all sides of games... a story and mostly the main quest flow will be one of the most difficult things to do... if you want to keep in intresting... But give the mais charater and main npc characters personality is a must... pls... don't take me wrong. I just don't believe you have to read tons of books to get it right... mostly because i dont belive that to get it right is even important... the truly important thing is to get it intresting... or games like LBA, Grim Fandango or the one i love that nothing is right but everything is intresting... AND IT IS THE SECRET OF MONKEY ISLAND wouldn't be the success they were... :x

Abou the magic... it is as everything else... the simplier the best! In this aspesct things must be just functional and balanced... Mellee combat Magic... Names are of non-importance... The character even can be called The BAD ASS... what matter is if you give personnality to him and that his personnality corresponds to the gameplay... It could even have that name and he could be the world nº1 pussy... if the gameplay is according to that... hope you get my idea :) i won't be more specific because people must experience and fail to understand. Nothing is made at the first time. Alot of edits and headaches are on the way to who leads with game development. ;)



Yeah that is the best game of all times! "for me" althoug i do love LBA 1 & 2 & Ultima 8 (mostly) ;) although ultima 8 was a messy and had a alot of bugs and ****y magic system and ****y combat... that game was also very very intresting! And kept me going to the end! :)
 
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ZombyByte

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Excuse me, I don't know if this is the right place, but I'm new to this website and how it works, and.. Coding, as well.

I want to make a choice based thriller, but I've no idea how to make choices affect the story. I quite literally know absolutely nothing. Does anyone have a link to the steps, and maybe a script.. Thingy? [Sorry, I've no idea what the technical terms are..] If you do, it'd be absolutely wonderful. Thank you.
 

Kes

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@ZombyByte This is not done using scripts, but by choices, variables, and conditional branches. What I suggest you do is work through Andar's compilation of info for new users, especially his links to a playable tutorial on Events and another on switches and variables. Unless you have a firm grasp of those, you won't be able to do it. Spending a bit of time on this now will save you a ton of time and frustration in the future.
 

Clinical Mind

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This is a good guide, simple but effective.

I tend to lay out my plot with the second method you described (the one you said was too long . . .) and if I get stuck I just move to the next scene I have ideas for and come back to it when inspiration strikes.

I'm terrible with coming up with original titles though. I usually stick to the "noun related to story" and "relevant but exciting adjective" combo. For town names, if I get stuck I use an online generator until something interesting appears!

Thanks for sharing your process!
 

jweav8705

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In case the OP still lurks signed out, or has changed handles:
Hey OP, did you write this 6 years before you posted it here.
http://rmrk.net/index.php?topic=18723.0

You forgot to format the header "Event Flow" as well OP.

I guess there's a chance you did. I guess there's a chance that's you, but I think most people would agree, chances are, it's not.


july2007.JPG
 
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