I don’t think I have made it too much of a secret that I am a gamer. When most people watch television, I am in front of the computer playing games instead. In the old days I used to play board games from Avalon Hill like Tactics II and Kingmaker. Kingmaker is pretty applicable to this post as I have long looked for a game that simulates the medieval era of knights and peasants with castles and fiefdoms. I have tried lot of computer games from Castles to Civilization IV to others whose sole purpose is to simulate these types of worlds. Most of these hit some of the things I am looking for but they never were the complete package with full freedom of movement and decision-making that I was looking for. For me a game either has to be pure strategy or simulate something I can tell a story with but it is much better when I can do both.
The one thing I have never done is combine writing with game play but I am thinking of changing that and it is because of the discovery of a game that was recommended to me. Mount and Blade: Warband is a game that not only hits the strategy element with tactics and war strategy but also the world of politics and romance in a medieval setting. It is the game I have been looking for when I was looking for a game that covers this time frame with a fictional element that leaves things wide open for story. The only thing I think is missing from the base or vanilla game is religion but I can think that given this is a world that only exists in fiction you can getaway with it plus because that part along with many other parts is open so I think it makes it perfect for writing fictional elements in that I can develop those ideas.
What playing the game brings is an element of a lack of control. In the game I might lose a battle and I have to write that and the consequences of it in the story. I might pursue a love interest only to see her or him get married off to someone else (this is an era of semi-arranged marriages after all) The plot might take directions of its own because of these elements. There are also things called game mods that I can add to bring a more realistic feel to things but I will use them sparingly and only with really good reasons. Mostly though I want both a controlled element but also a little bit of random plot twists.
The game allows you to take the role of a single person with a background from noble to peasant. It allows you to enter one of the six realms of Calradia and begin your life as an adventurer. You can rise from this to King or Queen of the realm and anywhere in between. You can actually retire at any time. The thing is that it reflects the time period as far as nobility and culture. Women have a harder time rising to the top than men for example (although women in the game tend to be the power behind the throne and can help you gain and keep power) as well as peasants have to earn nobility. The thing is that you are leading a Warband of warriors and what you do with them is up to you. Be the noble champion to the sneaky robber baron and everything in between. These possibility leave story telling open to whatever I want it to be.
The real question as a writer is how to approach this? Do I make this a part of the pub or do I start a new blog (something I have spoken against before) to do it? What kind of character do I make and use and what elements that the game doesn’t touch can I add that will tell a good story but not interfere with game play? Much like writing a novel I have a lot of things to do here.
So to all my writer friends out there I could use some suggestions or a ‘yea that’s great idea’ or ‘no that is really stupid’. Honesty is always best.
Blessings and Cheers!!!