Runes of Magic Story Telling

I was reading some of the winners of the writing contest, and thinking more about RoM’s world lore while listening to the No Prisoners, No mercy podcast.

Saylah was in no way bashing RoM when she described the game as being:

…part Everquest 2, part Lord of the Rings Online, and part World of Warcraft smooshed together into a generic fantasy world…

It’s quite a flattering comparison-description.  Yet that haunting word kept nipping at the back of my mind: generic.

I re-read all the flavortext on the different zones, and the world lore which is mainly back story of the worlds creation and previous “eras” leading up to the current one.  It all seemed to be back story- ancient history.

I then went back through my memory of taking my Twink through Sascilia Steppe’s world quests, up to level 15 quests.  I wanted to refresh myself on how much story was sprinkled through quests to compare with Sacilia’s more specific zone stories.

When you get your second class, at level 10, you also get two 60-minute cool down teleport skills:

  • To Logar in Howling Mtns.
  • To Reifort in Sascilia Steppes

You’ll teleport in to Reifort Camp which is not much more than an encampment of various sized tents.  There is however all the amenities:

  • Auctionhouse
  • House Maid
  • Crafting Stations
  • Daily Quest  Board

Reifort Camp is located at a crossroads.  The East road leads safely into Dust Devil Canyon where you’ll run straight into Obsidian Stronghold.  The South road winds down into different NPC encampments, through Dogamor and into Dragonfang Ridge.  Taking the North road leads up and turns westward taking you through a couple tiny caravans and into Ayren Caravan which lies outside of Khant.

The Ayren-Caravan has the best and strongest warriors amongst all the white-fur caravans, and after listening to Saylah speak of the vibrant life-like feel of RoM’s hubs filled with many NPC’s and players attracted to stay or hangout by having crafting stations and the like in every area, I really started to see how it did feed on my perceptions.  I found myself enjoying the experience much more than I would in the ghost-town-hubs of World of Warcraft.

Going back over these quests from memory and a little help from getbuffed.com’s database, I started piecing the quest’s flavor text together.

It slowly dawned on me how subtle and intricate the world quests work together with the current world lore and the player completing the quests.

It really is as the main RoM site says:

Now the time has come for you to explore Taborea and shape its future.

I think the cliche sound of it belittles the uniqueness and overall size of Runes of Magic’s world lore. As importantly as that, the quests almost too secretly slip in objectives- some with and some without accompanying text that has the player involved in the story while on the outset they think they’re just “killing ten rats”.

I noticed there are small quest chains that can be found in and around major areas where people genuinely want to be.  You have a community that you are part of more so than a place that just implements quests for the sake of having quests.  There’s no traveling out to the middle of nowhere to find a quest to kill ten rats where there’s no reason to.

These quest chains that can be from a single NPC before jumping to another NPC to do a few more quests lead you through little mini-chapters of the story that you are actively involved in.

Ayren Caravan has you start out killing 15 Blackhoof’s over and over to recover supplies for the Caravan, but through that you are actively involved in helping fight on the White-fur’s side after they made a hasty retreat from Khant.  You’ll learn a bit about the current situation and be led to other tiny quest chains that reveal major story players.  One major story element that you shape is about Pasper and his shrine.  You have to do the quests to learn the details of what lead Pasper down his “road” and by the end of all these quests you have a story.  One subtedly is the completion of a quest locating a ruin that once you locate and touch it a spirit will be released, that you quickly kill.  But the tiny things like what they say when you kill them is discovering some in-between flesh of the world lore that…fleshes out the world lore more.

A game like World of Warcraft has similar quests but I think the difference lies in pre-created world lore segments or player created world lore.

WoW has quests that inform you of evil spirits or bosses that came to power and you have to destroy them.  They are good quests that I find fun.  The story is told in a repeatable way, so whenever a new player gets the quest they can do it and are informed of the story surrounding that which fleshes out the world lore.

In Runes of Magic the story is not laid out “around” the quest objective(s).  It is laid out through the quests, where by the end of a quest or chain of quests have advanced the story beyond the world lore you’ll  currently find on the main RoM site.

Pre-created World Lore:

Another way to view it is that you(the character) are learning world lore through various NPC stories within a game like WoW. It may be a series of quests set up like this:

  • An NPC sets the scene
  • You’ll fight the enemy/collect stolen items/etc…
  • You’ll find out more how a boss or enemy group came to power which…
  • leads you to take a quest to kill a small boss
  • by the end you have the story

This is a fine way to tell a story, and you can create a lot of this in advance, but ultimately how much does it do to really affect or shape the world lore?

So I killed a band of pig-men and there leader.  Doesn’t really have a large effect on the world.

Player Created World Lore:

Runes of Magic has a similar set up but, I think, with some subtle differences that have a direct affect on the whole game world.

  • An NPC sets the scene
  • You’ll fight the enemy/collect stolen items/etc…
    • Through some of these you’ll release a ghost that’s a main NPC from the world lore or thwart the efforts of an major enemy, both that will have major concequences over the area or zone.
  • You’ll find out more how a boss or enemy group came to power which…
    • You’ll create a timespan where the quests you are involved in is the story to fill that Timeline.
  • leads you to take a quest to kill a small boss
  • by the end you know what the story is, not told to you in segments by the NPC’s so much as participating in the rise of power of an enemy or vice-versa.

Closing:

It’s hard to explain this as I obviously lack the lexicon to paint just the right picture, but let’s look at two other sample quests:

  • You need to collect a series of tools which leads to the balance of power shifting between 2 factions. You may also need to investigate a ruin, but upon investigating you advance a story element.  When combined with other quests or quest chains in the same zone, and combine those story advances that you created by repairing an altar or opening a portal, the story lies mainly in the game, or just as much in the game as in flavor text you look up on the website.  Later this could be added and the next chapter is again for you to create through playing.
  • Or you do a quest or series of quests where the flavor text is just handed to you and if fact could be pre-released in it’s entirety on the web site for players to read, and still let you “be a part of”.

So I think, yes: Runes of Magic really doesn’t have much World Lore for those interested in going to the website and reading, because the “other half” is in the game for you to be a part of in unique timelines that waits for you to continue it whereby when you are done with those quests you could write out and it coud fill many pages.

After going through those first 15 levels of quests with my Twink Abernacky, I started playing through the story of it in my mind.  I found that combined with a colorful imagination, and the background text of the zone, I could fill a standard sized book with a fantastic story that only revolved around one zone’s series of quests(or less).

There is just some small subtle mechanic that has a larger implication on how the player recieves the story wich is the world lore, and at the same time wouldn’t quite make sense to write that all out in advance.  I suspect it will be more evident as the game grows and ages resulting in more story telling mechanics.

I hope to improve my writing to the point where I can pinpoint these ideas to come back to this post and revise it.

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