How to Save the World
We ended the last chapter of this guide with a summary of my game so far. As a general rule, I have started with an initiating event, then developed the characters, then developed their fighting abilities, then developed the plot. From there, I developed character, weaponry, and plot again. Then, character, weaponry, plot again. The cycle is endless until the close of the game. It follows that should you ever get writer’s block (and who doesn’t?) one of the first things you should do is to go back and look at your last step. Ask yourself whether this was a development of character, ability, or plot, and then just take it from there. If you’re still stuck after that, try working out in your head various possibilities along with the effects the advancements would have on your game. Always plan ahead, but be flexible so that you are ready to change some of your ideas at the last second if they don’t work out for whatever reason. And trust me: it’s impossible to make a game without constantly changing your original plans. I’ve already done it many times in this adventure, and I’ve only just gotten past the easier half of my game.
My point is that even if you change the game around a bit, you should still stick to the standard pattern of role-playing games: character, weaponry, and plot. Learn this lesson well and your game will be the better for it.
My last step, for example, was Chi’s letter, a character development of Alexandra. She is now serving a different purpose as sidekick. Therefore, my next step is to increase the abilities of Lewis Dominick. And yes, I’ve done that, too, by giving him the Spell Book. Now I will advance the plot.
If you (Lewis) do not have enough Jack’s Feathers to fill the first page of your Spell Book, you must go back into the Heartland Castle to get them. Once you have filled the first page, you can perform two key spells: the Cracker and the Sound of Somnolence. The Cracker breaks any boulder blocking your path (like the one blocking your way out of the Broken Heartlands), and the Sound of Somnolence puts everybody in a place asleep (like the fighting people on Obliteration Field).
Use these two spells to get out of the Heartlands and into the middle of a much calmer Obliteration Field. Now, technically, you can access all four major lands of Aetre’s Island. But there is not much to do in Club Town, you cannot get too far in Spade Mountain without the Lightning Bomb, and you just came from the Heartlands, so why turn back?
Go down the East Road in the direction of Diamond Castle, and you will see several people trying to remove a boulder blocking what they say is a path. You don’t see anything except a rock wall, but you help them out by using the Cracker. Sure enough, there was a boulder in the path, which reveals to you another secret of Aetre’s Island geography: the East Road actually forks into two directions, which you never knew before. To the left is Diamond Castle (not much there but ruins), and to the right is your next stop, Safe Haven Village.
Safe Haven Village is a small mining town overrun by refugees of Heartlandtown. The Hearts have come and rebuilt almost their entire town, just with everything in a different place. So if you didn’t get those extracurricular things done earlier, you can do them now. What catches your attention, however, is that there are also some refugees from Club Town staying here! But didn’t they all die? Ask any one of them and they will tell you that they were warned to evacuate by the king himself and a young girl in white (that must by Ky). They will tell you that not all of the town’s residents would evacuate when the warning was given, so not everybody made it. The king left the town to lead the refugees here, but the girl stayed behind in Club Town to try and persuade others to come. Nobody has seen her since.
*This is a character development.
Those Clubs that survived are staying in the newly relocated Heartbreak Hotel. While in Safe Haven Village, you will be treated differently by the Clubs, Diamonds, and Hearts, as I will refer to them. The Diamonds are furious that their town should be infested with the likes of so many foreigners. And not only are you a foreigner, but you removed the boulder they so carefully placed to keep away more outsiders. You won’t exactly get preferential treatment from these people. The Hearts are as nice to you as they ever were. And of course, you are recognized by name and welcomed among the Clubs. Note that you can tell the three groups of people apart by their clothing. Clubs wear green, Diamonds wear silver, and Hearts wear dark red.
*In places with more than one ethnic group of people, always look for signs of tension among at least one of the groups. A recurring theme in RPG’s is that of the need for unity in order to succeed.
In Heartlandtown there was a shop called the Deuce’s Clothing Store, where you got your red Loyalist uniform. Go here now and you will find that the “deuce” is no longer in charge. It seems he was one of the unfortunate ones to not make it out of Heartlandtown alive. His brother, a Diamond, now runs the shop. He tells you he doesn’t have anything your size except a black version of your suit. He would normally refrain from selling such a fine garment to a foreigner (notice, he doesn’t address you as a Club), but for a certain price, he’d let you have it. What’s the price? All hundred of your Alligons and your red suit in exchange for the black one. Does this sound like a rip off? Well, actually, it’s not. Take the deal, and you will be able to perform charged combo attacks. How does this work? In a dungeon or miniature dungeon, Lewis can charge up his attack meter by performing his regular combo moves in fights. After he has charged his meter enough, it will flash green and Lewis’s next combo will be an upgraded version of itself, applying twice the damage it would have in the first place. This works for Lewis’s hand and foot movements, but also for his weapons. For example, where you used to be able to perform moves like the double aerial twister kick and the circular trip (bow staff), you can now do the triple aerial twister kick and the charged helicopter attack.
*This is a weaponry advancement.
*One element of the plot that you should never forget to implement into your RPG is suspense. Let your character take a break every now and then, but make sure that break is short-lived every time. Just when things look “as safe as a haven,” it is your job to put an end to the peace.
Just as you are walking through Safe Haven Village, you find a mysterious dirt street that is marked “No Thru Street” and seems to lead to absolutely nowhere. Go down that street and you will see how wrong that first impression really is. When you reach the end of the road, the world turns black around you as a giant claw comes up from the earth and pulls you in its palm down into the ground.
Once underground, you see that you are in an ancient abandoned mine shaft, the Tumbledown Diamond Mine, from which Diamondland gets its name. If you want to get out of there, of course, you can. Simply follow the sign that reads EXIT. If you’re fully equipped, though, you probably want to stay and check things out. The second letter from Ky is posted on the wall just past the entrance. It reads:
What you see in this mine was once shimmering with the glitter of thousands upon thousands of diamonds. There were so many, in fact, that if all of them had been mined, the gems would be so common in these lands that they would be worth less than any other ordinary rock. It was because of this fact that King Aetre decided to temporarily end mining in the shafts about a decade ago. But now, all of the diamonds are gone, and nobody knows why. I’m sorry I can’t tell you much about what else is in this underground lair, but I do know that somewhere around here is the entrance to the Chalcedon Caverns, wherein you will find the next Jack, the Flying Amethyst. I also know from King Aetre that you cannot get into the Caverns unless a secret lever has been pulled. Even the king does not know exactly where the lever is, but he tells me it is hidden west of Club Town. You probably can’t get there, so I’m going to try and pull the lever. You just worry about getting into the caverns. And while you’re in the mine, Lewis, be careful and look out behind you!
Before you know what is happening, a shadow rises up behind you and blocks out the light. When you turn around, all you see are two red, very big, very angry eyes looking at you. Whatever the thing is, it hisses at you and attacks Fend it off and you will find that the animal shrinks when hit. Eventually, it backs off and shrinks until it is only the size of an ant and scurries away. When it does, a piece of paper falls from behind Ky’s posted letter: a map of the Tumbledown Diamond Mine. As you walk through the cavern, you see several boxes filled with mining supplies. The only two you can use are cherry bombs and matches. Use the matches to light the lanterns in the mine. Even after ten years, most of the lights still work, as they should. The cherry bombs are useful wherever a path is blocked by wood or rubble. But you cannot get through some of the obstacles without the Lightning Bomb.
*Are you getting the feeling that the Tumbledown Diamond Mine is a miniature dungeon? If you saw that one coming, give yourself a pat on the back. By now you should be able to identify these things when they happen. And if you can’t yet, don’t worry. It just takes time, that’s all.
You walk through the passages of Tumbledown, every now and then finding Jack’s Feathers, fighting cockroaches that suddenly grow into giant enemies when they see you, and fending off the rocks that fall from the ceiling in some of the more decrepit parts of the mine.
Eventually you reach the end of the paths in Tumbledown, and you see the Chalcedon Caverns in front of you. You just can’t enter, because there is a vault door covering it. The sign in front of the door reads “Opens only when lever is pulled.” That must be the same lever that Ky mentioned in her letter. She said she’d try and open it, but it doesn’t look like that’s been done yet. There is another sign next to the door, though…
*Before I tell you exactly what that sign reads I want to explain to you the difference between Advancement and Complication. Advancement happens whenever you build upon the characters, weaponry, or plot of the game. This means that you are merely adding to what you had or what you knew earlier. Complication can only happen to the plot. It occurs whenever you throw a “twist” into the picture.
An example of a plot advancement would be when the wolf goes from the house of straw to the house of sticks to speak to the next little pig. A twist would happen if the second pig had been a member of the NRA and blown away the wolf with an AK-47. What makes that last example a complication instead of an advancement? Simple: the gun changes the potential length of the story. Now the fairy tale ends much sooner than it would have, since the wolf died at the second house, not the third. A complication changes the length of the story, but it can make the plot longer just as much as it can shorten it.
In my game, a plot advancement would have been for Lewis to march right on into the Chalcedon Caverns and take on his next dungeon in search of the Flying Amethyst. A complication occurs when he cannot open the door immediately. This complication is minor compared to the solution process it takes to open the vault, which if you remember back to the rhymed legend is referred to as the “safest of vaults.” Will it be easy to crack? No. But you are hinted at the first step to accessing the lever when you look to the left of the door and see the sign, in faded but still visible letters… SWITCH…