Settling on a Setting

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Westeford
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Settling on a Setting

#1 Post by Westeford » Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:44 am

I have a weird problem. I know the basics of the story I want to write, but the setting/time period is what I'm having trouble settling on.
The plot is basically this.
Guy meets a mysterious girl. Girl is the chosen of an ancient prophesy. Girl is being hunted by empire (Good reason? Bad reason? Who knows?). Guy promises to protect girl despite being weak. The two go on journey to fulfill the ancient prophesy. (It may involve finding old shrines and reawakening elder magic and maybe slaying giant eldritch abominations.) During the journey they meet different people who join them on the journey. Their motives vary. The group travels the world to find the shrines and save the world (or do they?).
Gameplay involves the player planning the party's routes and making decisions. As well as solving puzzles and various mysteries. After a certain point, the group will have to finish the journey before a certain day or else get a less than good ending.

I'd like to say my story is more interesting that I wrote it, but that's basically it.
The problem I'm having is this, I can't decide upon a time period for my game to take place in.
I've narrowed my choices down to two. Either the Late Medieval Era (1360s-1400s) or the Modern Era (20XX).
Both of these time periods are very different, and I'm not really a fan of trying to combine the eras together into something unique. I've tried listing pros and cons of each and I still can't decide. I'll list my personal pros and cons of each era down below.
While writing the pros and cons I noticed that most of the cons of one era as pros in the other so I just listed the pros.

Medieval (1360s-1400s)
+Melee weapons are viable weapons. (Swords, axes, lances)
+Early uses of gunpowder.
+Siege battles, storming the castle
+Mysteries in an era before forensics.
+Knights carrying swords, and flintlocks

Modern (2000s)
+Access to internet and cell phones
+Cars and other vehicles
+Concepts of magic in a modern day setting.
+Comparatively less chauvinistic and racist era
+Cyborgs/Robots

I want to hear your opinions. Which era do you find more appealing and why?

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Re: Settling on a Setting

#2 Post by Mammon » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:02 am

I'd say Medieval, considering the ancient shrines and Eldrich monsters. In the modern era it becomes more difficult to just say that there are various ancient places completely deserted and not excavated, with great monsters roaming around. At least one would be cleaned out and turned into a tourist attraction. Which can of course be a pro instead.

Similarly the people and organisations that help you can be more freely of your choice in the medieval era. The Empire will in both cases be the main power in the area, but with modern times the organisations opposing them would have to be rather specific groups like hackers or rebels, or individuals. Adding non-chaotic and non-criminal organisations like a clergy or guild to the mix would't work in the modern era, for you're either with or against the Empire.

The cell phones and cars thing is something you labelled as a pro for the modern era, which means that your story actually benefits from it. That's of course true depending on the story. I'd usually call it a vice, though. In between Big Brother surveillance of the MC's phone, the fact that those items exist to immediately use communications or google instead of having to find the info elsehow, and there being a lot of cases where the Empire might defeat you much easier, it might be more of a death sentence usually. I mean, they probably have (or eventually get) a picture of the MC and the girl for wanted posters and get the local law enforcement and commoners against you wherever you go using false accusations.

The modern era also has the disadvantage of great transportation. Your MC doesn't have a chopper and can be easily located if they'd do, but the Empire has. Plus they should have plenty of agents to go to all the ancient sites at once and fortify the others against you. They can land on the roof or send in SWAT units. And that Eldrich monster is a lot more frightening to you than it is to a man in a F-16.

So, based upon the story you described, the modern time would have a lot of features and gadgets that would make a massively uneven playing field between the MC and the Empire that would either require you to say 'No, choppers don't exist in this realm or something' or work with other explanations and circumstances to avoid this problem. And that sounds like the mixing medieval and modern that you didn't want to do. At least as far as I can tell. Also, that medieval swordsman you picked up on the road would be a better challenge against the knights just as exhausted as you from their trek on foot, than a modern gunslinger would be against a SWAT team flown in by an attack helicopter.
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Re: Settling on a Setting

#3 Post by frylander » Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:14 pm

I don't know if this is an option since you didnt post it but, I think rather than a modern setting this could actually benefit from a SciFi setting, travelling between planets along the galaxy rather than locations in a single planet. That could solve some problems that Mammon mentioned since the universe is pretty big even if you have lots of resources as the empire, you can't just explore the whole universe, you have to pinpoint a location.

If you are not interested or your story doesn't adapt well to sci fi, probably you can stick to Medieval, and it would be more of a action-adventure genre.

If done on a modern setting, with the problems suggested by Mammon I think it would become more of a hunt on the protagonist being mostly one sided and leaving the MC with little option other than escaping and hiding most of the time. That can be good and cool if done well, like in the "Jason Bourne" movie series. But it would play out quite differently than in a sci fi or a medieval setting, so probably pick the one that suits best your story and how you want to tell it.

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Westeford
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Re: Settling on a Setting

#4 Post by Westeford » Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:01 pm

Mammon wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:02 am
The cell phones and cars thing is something you labelled as a pro for the modern era, which means that your story actually benefits from it. That's of course true depending on the story. I'd usually call it a vice, though. In between Big Brother surveillance of the MC's phone, the fact that those items exist to immediately use communications or google instead of having to find the info elsehow, and there being a lot of cases where the Empire might defeat you much easier, it might be more of a death sentence usually. I mean, they probably have (or eventually get) a picture of the MC and the girl for wanted posters and get the local law enforcement and commoners against you wherever you go using false accusations.

The modern era also has the disadvantage of great transportation. Your MC doesn't have a chopper and can be easily located if they'd do, but the Empire has. Plus they should have plenty of agents to go to all the ancient sites at once and fortify the others against you. They can land on the roof or send in SWAT units. And that Eldrich monster is a lot more frightening to you than it is to a man in a F-16.
Excellent points. A modern setting would require more suspension of disbelief from the player. It would also open up a lot of possible plot holes and game balance issues.
A medieval setting would be a lot more manageable and probably less gimmicky.

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Re: Settling on a Setting

#5 Post by Westeford » Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:09 pm

frylander wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:14 pm
I don't know if this is an option since you didn't post it but, I think rather than a modern setting this could actually benefit from a SciFi setting, travelling between planets along the galaxy rather than locations in a single planet. That could solve some problems that Mammon mentioned since the universe is pretty big even if you have lots of resources as the empire, you can't just explore the whole universe, you have to pinpoint a location.
I was considering sci-fi, but I decided against it. I love the genre, but the thought of writing that kind of stuff gives me a headache. lol

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Re: Settling on a Setting

#6 Post by Imperf3kt » Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:39 pm

Why does it have to be set in a time period grounded in reality? I can see a great deal of use for my medievil iPhone.

Why not a 15th century setting with futuristic elements. I hear hovercarts are all the rage among the wealthy
Oh, but I'm fairly sure lightsaber jousting was banned back in 12BCE

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