Stones fell from the high wall of the church as the dragon made another pass. Fire shot from the reptile's mouth lighting the wooden steeple ablaze. Inside a poor aging priest held a trembling boy in his arms. The shadow of the serpent's wing passed over the stained glass window and the boy clutched the priest's robes tighter. In the distance they heard screams of man and beast as the dragon turned the village into a lake of fire. The youth turned his eyes to the priest, desperate for an explanation.
"The warlord Gatoroth has made a deal with the Underworld," said the priest. "He has been granted the power to do great harm, but in the end evil will consume him."
The boy lifted his dark mop of a head and yelled through his tears.
"I will kill him!"
The priest frowned. "It is time then. Come."
The priest led the boy through a trapdoor concealed beneath the church altar. Torchlight lit up the catacombs as the priest led the boy through the tombs. To either side along the hall, dust covered sarcophagi rested in crude recesses carved in the wall. The priest stopped beside one of the stone coffins and bent to brush the cobwebs from the intricately carved faceplate.
"This was King Alfred," said the priest. "He fought the goblins for twenty years, before he was shot in the back."
The boy listened with rapt attention as the priest moved from tomb to tomb, describing the great heroes and their violent deaths. When they emerged from the dark hole, the priest knelt before the boy. The child trembled with anticipation. Even before the War of Succession, he had dreamed of being a great warrior. Now that his village had been burned, he thirsted for vengeance and glory. He was certain the priest would initiate him into this secret circle of great men.
"Don't be like these fools," said the priest with emotion.
The boy twisted, breaking free from the priest's hands. He ran from the church into the smoking ruin that had once been his home. Burning with anger, the young man found his way into a column of refugees making their way out of the realm. He was walking along the wretched line of mourners swinging a branch trough the brush when a knight rode up beside him.
"What is your name, boy?" said the old battle worn paladin.
The boy looked up and his eyes brightened.
"Galron," he said.
It was late in the day. The shadow of Castle Celcenor fell across the jousting range. The citadel was named for the last warlord to hold out against the evil Gatoroth. The War of Succession was almost over. The empire was no longer contested. It was destroyed. Gatoroth left no one alive. Galron handed his knight another lance. He was the knight's favorite, and the other squires resented him greatly.
After the contest, Galron made his way back to the barracks. Halfway home he was confronted by a group of boys in orange tunics and long pointed caps. The tallest of them, a red haired freckled brute, stepped to Galron, while his friends cut off his escape. Galron stood his ground.
"Out of my way Dinkers!" commanded Galron with authority.
"Don't speak until spoken to!" yelled the bully, spit flying from his mouth.
A squire threw his arm around Galron's neck from behind and dragged him into an alley. Dinkers laughed and lead the other squires in after him. Galron was brutalized. His screams were muffled by a cap shoved into his mouth. Broken and bleeding, Galron brushed the dirt off of his blood spattered tunic and stumbled back toward the barracks, seething.
The knight was there to greet him. He looked at Galron's tattered clothes and swollen eye but did not say a word. Galron cast his eyes down and tried to press passed into the building. The knight would not move. Galron looked into the knight's ancient blue eyes. Tears fell from the boy's cheeks.
"I will kill them!" sobbed Galron.
The knight spoke to him sternly.
"They have no chivalry. If you show patience, they will serve you one day."
There was a great gathering in the hall of Castle Celcenor. The castle still stood, thanks to the mighty ruler who had resisted Gatoroth's evil for so long. Now King Celcenor stood over a man kneeling before him in a suit of shining armor. In the crowd beyond, a freckled man scowled, adorned in a bright blue tunic and cap.
"Rise, Sir Galron," said the king.
The crowd cheered. Galron kissed the ruler's ring and stood. Galron smiled, the twin points of his beard hanging from his chin. At last he was a man. Not one of the wretches that toiled in fear of death, but a true man. The knight half-listened to the king's orders. They were the same for every new knight. He must quest to destroy Gatoroth and his dragon. As the gathering broke up, Galron made his way to the door.
"Come, Dinkers," he said. The man in the blue tunic followed, shuffling his feet.
Before they left the castle, Galron stopped by the cathedral to pay respects to an old friend. The tomb was bathed in sunlight from the high windows. The shield placed over the lying stone figure glistened brightly. The knight knelt beside the final resting place of his master. The old knight had taught Galron much. He no longer sought vengeance, but to put an end to evil. Galron rose and left the castle, riding into the wilderness with his reluctant squire.
The two riders passed many a burned village in silence. The devastation was greater than anyone had thought. Galron imagined the glory that would be his once he slew this monster. Dinkers shook at the thought of meeting Gatoroth. He had never been this far from Castle Celcenor. He also knew that the pompous Galron was not up to the challenge.
At last they reached the dark cave in the mountain where Gatoroth made his home. Once a great warlord, Gatoroth had fallen under the spell of the Underworld. Now he was little more than a beast -- a beast with a pet dragon. Galron and Dinkers crouched behind a boulder before the cave entrance. Galron placed a gauntleted on the squire's shoulder.
"Courage," said Galron with a smile.
The knight stood and walked to the mouth of the cavern. He challenged the villain to show himself. The earth rumbled. Galron tried to keep his footing. He drew his sword. The beast came on fast, a great green and black blur. It shot out of the cave and spread its wings. Flame shot from the dragon's mouth as it turned, ready to descend on the hero.
"Quick, Dinkers, a javelin!" shouted Galron.
The coward did not move. Galron dodged a fireball and leapt over the boulder. He ripped the javelin from the squire's shaking hands and walked calmly before the cave entrace to prepare for the dragon's next attack. The beast circled three times before it dove. Galron stood on the barren ground, legs wide, javelin in hand. The dragon opened its jaws, ready to swallow the knight whole. Galron cast his javelin, striking the monster in the chest. The dragon hit the ground with a thunderous crash, trapping the knight beneath it.
An evil cackle sounded from within the cave. Galron watched as a robed man emerged. No. It was not a man. The sleeves of the robe were empty, and in place of a head, a crown floated over an empty collar. Galron freed himself from the dragon, but laid still, pretending to be wounded. The phantom drew nearer. Galron searched the ground desperately for his sword, only to find his weapon out of reach.
"Dinkers, my sword!" Galron shouted.
The squire stood and walked slowly up to the knight, smiling. He took off his pointed blue cap and threw it on the ground. Dinkers picked up the sword and held it over Galron's chest.
"No, Dinkers! No!" cried Galron.
"That's what you said in the alley back home!" laughed the evil squire.
Hatred flashed across the knight's eyes. He seized the sword point in his gauntlet and kicked the squire's legs out from under him. He jumped on Dinker's chest and pressed his thumbs into the man's throat. Dinkers struggled at first, but something snapped in his neck and he went still. Tears of anger fell from Galron's eyes.
"I will kill you! I will kill you!" he cried.
Galron looked up when he heard the laughter. The evil ghost of Gatoroth stood before him. The knight snarled and jumped to his feet, grabbing up his sword. Gatoroth drew his blade, a thin black cord of a weapon. Galron took a step toward him.
"Why don't you join us?" said the creature. "If it is glory you want, you will have it everlasting in the Underworld!"
The knight screamed and swung his sword with all his might. The spirit held its sword steady and Galron shattered it as his blade passed through the space where Gatoroth's head should have been. The empty robe floated to the ground. From every direction echoed the ghostly evil laugh.
On his way back to Castle Celcenor, Galron stopped at the ruins of a small village. Green plants grew through the charred wood remains. The knight stopped before the stone church. Inside the great heroes slept on. On his way inside he ignored a small graveyard where rested an old priest.
The main character had certain personality defects, such as a short temper and being obsessed with glory. When personalities go in, they should have such sweeping effects as more game mechanics go in. A creature might also 'fool itself' and think it has a different personality than it possesses. This would have some effects on conversations and actual actions, but the creature's true personality would still be the main drive. The internal conflict of some creature involved with the player in either mode might end up determining the direction of play to some extent. The story also contains elements of buried jealousy that have ramifications later on (outright betrayal at an opportune moment in this case).
There's a sequence where the priest tries to teach young Galron a lesson to counter his personality flaws. It's difficult to include things like this, but it's a goal anyway.
People should encourage you and others to join their entity affiliations if they think you are suited for it. This can include putting children and young adults in apprentice type positions, including things like squires and pages and so on. In the story, there's the notion of the master having a 'favorite', which can lead to interesting situations (jealousy, resentment, etc). Although the adventure mode player is an adult, bullying can come up in either mode, and children can clique together in little groups.
There's a notion of using a general evaluation of a person's morality and personality to see if they are fit for progress in an entity affiliation or relationship. It would be ideal if the game could track these things. If you fail the evaluation, you might be refused advancement or your marriage proposal might be rejected.
There's also a notion of a nominal affiliation. You might be a 'knight' and people might refer to you with a title, but they might not feel you deserve it until you prove yourself either through a specific task or by earning respect in general.
Many people stay in the same place their entire lives -- right now, almost everybody in the game does. The first time leaving that place should be a memorable experience in one way or another, and this should come up in play, though not so often that it's annoying.
Although it is kind of a given, the player should be able to talk as much crap as the enemies currently do. There should be enough options so that it's really a satisfying experience. You should be able to address specific matters.
You should be able to muffle somebody's cries, and that should matter (that is, things should cry out and make noise if they are surprised or if they want to raise an alarm). Bodies, dead or not, should be able to fall on you and trap you.
There's a notion of temptation by evil etc., and the creature in question might be able to read minds or just do it as a joke to mock the target. As far as tempting the player, they won't really be able to read your mind of course (they can do that to others), but they could still gain access to your quest list and other goals it is tracking and try to use those on you. If you do end up making a deal with dark powers, there are as many ramifications as there are types of civilization aspects and magical effects. In this story, there was a degeneration, and this should be able to happen to the player.
The ghost has a strange evil weapon that seems somewhat weak. These kinds of effects would be interesting.
Hidden catacombs and so on are fun. We have the ruins now, but certainly it all needs to be expanded and made more interesting.