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<DEMONS> representing the effects of time!

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I dunno, it seems to be a kind of weird "change is bad" message. I really think it'd be better to think of it in terms of harmony vs entropy or something like that, rather than saying time itself is the evil force.

If we're being strictly philosophical about it, then of course time has no agenda and therefore can't be said to be good or evil. It's just a thing that IS. That observation in itself is interesting. You could pursue that if you wanted, and it would be interesting.

But the beautiful thing about stories is that you can frame them however you want. Time is sort of an "evil force" in Stephen King's The Langoliers, for example. While "the langoliers" are not intentionally malicious, nor do they have any specific interest in watching the protagonists suffer, they are still the antagonistic force. The langoliers are just doing their job, behaving according to their nature, and they couldn't care less about the consequences on people.

You see something similar in a lot of the works of Jack London. Only in his works the antagonistic force isn't time (although time may be a factor) as much as it is the merciless lack of concern nature has for mankind. He tells stories of men simply trying to travel from one town to another, and the terrible sequence of events that unfolds and causes them to die of an accidental injury or slowly, slowly, slowly freeze to death. You experience their gradually heightening physical torment and the psychological terror of the truth setting in that they are probably, almost certainly going to die. Alone. And nobody will know or care for months. Possibly no one will ever find them. Jack London LOVED stuff like that.

But nature wasn't ever "evil" to Jack London in the sense of being a stereotypical figure in a black cape and twisting a crooked mustache, nor were the langoliers (i.e. time) intentionally "evil" in Stephen King's book. They are both just very extremely dangerous things that you should, if you know what's good for you, regard with the gravest respect.

Jack London could have written a story where he was like, "But nature can also be pretty cool sometimes, like when it grows pretty flowers or soft grass that you can lay on and look up at the stars." But that's not the story he was telling. He was telling the story where nature is crazy deadly and will straight up kill you if you stop paying attention for one second. And that's not even the scary part. The scary part is that nature isn't even conscious of it. You can't plead with nature. You can't say, "But I have a wife and kids." To nature, you're just some other crap in the environment, no different from a rock or a stick in the dirt. You are meaningless. Your death is meaningless. Who cares what a stick thinks? It's all just junk. Nature just churns it all through one of its millions of natural processes and never thinks about it again. Who cares what happened as a result? Feelings? What are those? Moving on.

Framing is a part of the writing. Provide a clear and consistent frame, and the audience usually won't even question it. Time as an antagonist requires a certain framing, but you could do it well enough.

I understand the concept of framing but am not even sure that time makes a good antagonist even within the context of what we know about the setting. Time is profoundly essential for generations to grow and inherit their parent's skills, which is one of the chief positive forces in the game, and for them to surpass their parents. Time is necessary to forge the best weapons, by accumulating generations of learning. So how do you frame it so that time is a malevolent force but also it's a good thing that it exists for some really fundamental universe reasons? Not impossible, but tricky.

And I still just think that the idea that time is an antagonist in the game is kind of a depressing way to go, because time is without a doubt the coolest thing about the whole game concept. I'm just not buying it as a thing that we as players don't want to embrace.

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@Surplus, I don't think the game will ever outright say "you are fighting the living embodiment of time" and most of the ravages of time could be characterized as increases of entropy. However, I personally prefer to think of it in terms of fighting against time instead of fighting against entropy, since the "chaos vs order" dichotomy is a bit more clichéd than "subject to time vs timeless". And because time is so central to the game and so important to the bloodlines, it makes an interesting adversary. Time is the perfect foil to the bloodlines, simultaneously shaping them and trying to wipe them out. Thinking of it in terms of entropy doesn't fundamentally change much: the fact that entropy always increases in a closed system is a physical fact and we depend on it as much as we depend on the passage of time.

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Yeah, that's kind of how I understood it. The demons don't represent time generally so much as they represent the "negative" (from a human frame of reference) effects of time. The humans represent and wholeheartedly endorse the "positive" (from a human frame of reference) effects of time.

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I'm going to throw my hat in the ring for the demons representing the force of entropy, a term often thrown about without understanding the full, scientific meaning. Many will describe entropy as chaos and disorder, and those aren't necessarily incorrect but the deeper truth is that entropy is actually a measure of a more abstract concept. We teach in science that the universe is going from a more "ordered" state to a more "disordered" one - everything is basically expanding outwards from the Big Bang and matter in the universe (galaxies, solar systems) are spreading out. Entropy is basically the driving force behind all of this and is a universal concept. It's somewhat counter-intuitive but everything is essentially moving towards a more stable (i.e. unreactive) state, and entropy is a measure of how stable that state is. Matter which is more spread out and disordered is, in fact, more able to react with other compounds and more likely to get to its stable state. Entropy drives all matter in the universe to become stable, cold, dead.

Sounds a bit depressing? I think it's a perfect driving force for demons. "Corrosion", "Decay", "Rust" are all processes which go from a more active state to a more stable state, chemically speaking. What's interesting is that you might think that humanity is trying to fight against this concept of entropy and that we're trying to prevent decay and corrosion, but generally the way we use materials and fuel towards the goals of increasing technology we are actually accelerating the process without knowing it. The way you can generally fight entropy is actually by reversing the process by putting in large amounts of heat energy to drive the reaction backwards (generally, a chemical reaction which releases energy results in more stable products, and a reaction which absorbs energy has less stable products).

I don't want to bore anyone by bringing you back to high school chemistry (I am a chemistry teacher) but I hope I've at least provided some inspiration on how these demons can be interesting while remaining dehumanized (which I believe to be a core concept of this game) without reverting to common fantasy tropes.

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I agree with Anenome. According to the theme, the forces of time are NOT a bad thing at all. Aging, gaining experiences, passing your knowledge on, these are all things that help your kingdom succeed. Sure, time forces things to decay but it also makes sure new things can flourish, so I think some care will have to be taken with exactly what you mean by the demons representing the forces of time. Also, just from a general standpoint, I think it's a really pessimistic view to be putting out that time is just a destroyer of things.

To tie into time passing not always being a bad thing, heroes can have differing power levels based on age and class. So maybe the best warriors are middle aged, but the best wizards are quite old, and the best thieves are quite young. Of course that sets of a power scale in contrast to, and potentially in opposition to, the traditional one of heroes leveling up and becoming more powerful as they get older. It introduces additional complexity but maybe it also facilitates interesting decision making--do I leave my Wizard on the battlefield longer and delay him having an heir so he can get his bonus magical power from reaching old age? Do I retire my thief after he becomes old and slow so he can sire heirs? Or keep him on past his prime so he can bolster my forces?

Maybe it can be thought of more like Entropy, which is the idea that things that are in an ordered state, other things being equal, tend to reach a more disordered state over time. Here the demons are the agents of entropy - they increase disorder, and this manifests as decay, corrosion, collapse and so on. But the humans can fight against this. Both sides need time to do so, because without it, everything is changeless.

This reminds me of Moorcock's The Eternal Champion, especially Elric, where the Demons are the forces of Chaos, and are opposed to the forces of Order. The twist is that if the universe was 100% order, it would be completely static and antithetical to life, and if it were 100% chaos, it would be completely disordered and formless, and also unable to support life. In fact the goal of the eternal champion is to balance the forces of order and chaos such that humanity can continue to survive.

But Massive Chalice sounds more like Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber, where the evil forces of Chaos are opposed to the good forces of Order. Or like the Warhammer and Warhammer 40K universe, where Chaos is the evil force of mutation, corruption and change, antithetical and inimical to all human life.

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Oxidation (rust!)

I would make it so your equipment could be broken by such a creature, BUT each successive generation it is passed down, and subsequent generations experience vested in it, it becomes more resilient.

Erosion

Can change the terrain. Make walls disappear, send someone tumbling down through an opening in a stone bridge.

Decay

Like Erosion, but for natural barriers, like trees and plants. Could also cause a status effect.

Growth

Opposite of decay: Causes barriers to appear on the field.

Collection

I would apply majugi's Pikmin-ish idea here, where it gradually accumulates more and more units into its mass.

Buildup

Bolster other effects, speed along a charge attack. If there was a scenario with something under pressure, say, a volcano, you might have to slay a Build Up demon quickly.

Corrosion

Like Oxidation for non-metal equipment.

Compression

Time Compression? I guess time manipulation magics? Could cause your classic haste, slow and stop effects.

Sagging / Effects of Gravity

Could have disastrous effects on a troop crossing a bridge. Actually, you would probably often find a gravity demon along with erosion and decay demons trying to bring things down. Would probably immobilize some units, possibly causing damage.

Fossilization

Petrification effects on the living. Could potentially harden units which are not alive.

Seasons

Spring Deluge, Summer's Heat, Autumn's Winds and Winter's Deathly Cold.

Collapse

This could be anything. It's almost OP. Building: Collapsed. Unit: Collapsed. Elder God: Collapsed.

Pressure

Like Gravity but can be applied in many directions. Could push units around the board. Could also affect things on the battlefield, like switches or pressure plates, or just roll a boulder off a cliff.

Crumbling

Useful for the demons if you can make Golem units. Might make this specific to walls and structures and make Erosion for terrain features.

Forgetfulness

Unit forgets commands as you give them. Not the same as confusion since they'll still find demons terrifying, but they might just run away from them, or start picking flowers.

Fading

The unit is fading away! You need to slay the demon before the effect takes hold or it be as though they never existed!

Adaptation

An obnoxious enemy that adapts itself to your tactics: Heavy Magic user? Too bad it has high magic defense all of a sudden! Using archers? The high speed and heavy hits are gonna do a number on you then. A bane to mini-maxed troop deployments, but easily thwarted by a well-balanced party.

Oh, and I really like that idea someone posted about a Monster that eats names. Sounds amazing.

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Whoa, lots of very complex suggestions in this thread.

Honestly Brad, just keep it simple. We already have enough with the geneology, item trees, and everything else to make a ridiculously complex game.

I'd just go for the Dota model, with an ability each character archetype you discussed. A passive aura such as rust which maybe slows an opponents attack speed or time between turns over time. Another may have an active ability to return to a point in time earlier (say 3 turns) and restore their stats from that time. Perhaps another could learn new abilities from others for a set period of time, but then forget them quickly.

But I would keep it all stats affliction based, not dive too much into too much more lore and overcomplicated the game here. That way it just ads flavor to what character you're up against or controlling w/o overpowering the player with complexities.

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Since the idea is that Demons embody the effects of time of our world, than a more interesting question is: What is their weakness?

I think this is a great question! If demons represent Time, then what weapon do we have against Time?

I think of concepts like history, society, civilization, togetherness, knowledge, and peace. The kingdom uniting together, recording history, training the next wave, and ensuring future generations is their weapon against time itself.

Still pretty abstract, but might be useful for theming. Like, your squad united together in battle and then recording that history of battle and training the next generation is how it further's the fight.

Also, fruit. :D

If the demons represent the destructive effects of time, which they do going from Brad's list, then the "weapon" against them would be the positive impact humans can have with time: discovery, knowledge, children. Which sort of ties into the systems that have been shown so far where subsequent generations of heroes, if managed correctly, will become more powerful than the preceeding ones.

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Another may have an active ability to return to a point in time earlier (say 3 turns) and restore their stats from that time.

hah, that would be pretty awesome, to have the AI quickload against you. =)

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Hmm, it depends on how you implement it, the obvious fun are Bards (the cool dudes) disremembering their melodies, loosing their abilities on the instruments whilst aging, strings crack of an aged lute and so on. If done right it could add character when their spells fizzle and they turn whimsical, ... If you don't design/balance it good enough it could be superfluous, sounding good on paper but without accomplishing a lot for the fun and it could potentially put the player into a Sisyphus' position.

Physically you can interpret time as that entropy increases, order turns into disorder, information decreases, ... some of the effects sound reasonable to implement and adding a more unique touch, others sound a bit displaced, considering the budget. Somehow it reminds me of Karl Valentin's "Art is beautiful, but requires a lot of work."

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I just saw Epic on a plane and they had rot-attacks in it. looked pretty cool and instantly made me think of MC. I was a little against being too literal at first with the ideas for MC, but I guess it works pretty well if the presentation and world is cool enough. and though the bad guys represented one side of a balanced system they tried to upset that balance and take over completely, so I guess that angle works pretty well too. great movie!

it also has some time- and timelapse related angles and effects which almost eerily coincides with discussions here...well. maybe not that eerily.

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I like the idea of having the demons represent the deteriorating effects of time, I feel that it really lends itself well to the overall themes outlined for Massive Chalice.

The idea that the demons will take your life "no matter what" makes loosing a hero on the battlefield a lot easier to stomach. They get you in the end, even if you win every fight and make it back home. They will be working you over, each day past your prime is a blow in their favor. Old age or sword to the face, they still got you. It is then every hero must ask him/her -self: "will i give them the satisfaction of nibbling away until there is nothing left, or will I take charge of my own fate and die on my own terms?"

This way of thinking makes every wrinkle on your face another sign of the demonic corruption slowly eating away at you, but they are also a symbol of defiance, for you will not let it consume you (not yet at any rate). You bear each scar, wrinkle and spot as medals, each representing the demonic assault on your body, but as long as you keep fighting they also represent their failure to end you.

I think an immortal king was mentioned early on, and his refusal succumb to their advances could very well be the reason the demons have it out for you.

What is so the human counter to the demon corruption? It does not lie in a fountain of youth, or makeup to hide or reverse their effect. The bloodlines on the other hand are not touched by time in the same way that it touches individuals. Rather than withering, a bloodline grows. Each generation becomes stronger through their ancestors. Through the bloodlines, change becomes a positive factor, and this represent a threatens the demon forces.

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i have drawn a few suggestions of monsters that represent time passing in this thread: http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewthread/9771/

i drew a rust monster and suggested that he would have a "rust dust" attack the potential effects of this attack could blind the hero temporarily, it could rapidly age (rust) the armour/weapon of the hero making it near useless or maybe it could be an area effect like the smoke grenades in the new xcom or it could do all of them for different types of "rust dust" attacks.

i drew a moss monster, and i think it could grow moss at will, and the effects could be growing moss all over its body for extra protection, it could grow moss as an area effect and slow the heroes that walk on it, or it could grow moss all over a hero temporarily slowing or even paralyzing a hero.

i drew an erosion monster, and it would use water to erode things, so a direct attack like water blasting a hero would be painful, and also it could blunt weapons and weaken armour.

i drew a mould/fungi monster, and i think it could have "spore attacks" and these could multiply the monster and create smaller fungi/mould monsters, it could make the hero ill or even hallucinate, and it could have an area effect of spores that blind or make the heroes ill.

i drew a sulphur stalagmite monster, and it could create stalagmites/stalactites for its attacks, so it could create a stalagmite under the hero and impale them, it could grow ones as an area attack that covers the ground in small spikes that injure a hero that walks on them, it could create a stalagmite that falls from the sky/ceiling and maybe grow a sulphur buildup on a hero that encases or covers them in sulphur that could trap or slowly corrode the hero.

and i drew a sulphur brain monster, this could either be a big brain or small brains, a big brain would use mind control from a distance so it could take direct control or just make the hero forget their next move, small brains would try to latch onto the brain of the hero for direct control.

i just drew an Atrophy monster, it could cause atrophy of the muscles of the hero, it could put the hero to sleep or slow the hero or maybe cause disorders in the hero permanently like insomnia or chronic fatigue

i will try and think of more.

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I know in past you guys were toying with the idea of reoccurring villains, and I think I have a solution for you.

Every battle fought is the same war. Since the demons are agents of time than time itself should not effect them. They arn't being defeated every generation and coming back, but you are just deflecting an attack. This could explain why the enemies later on are harder to battle because your earlier generations were fighting the grunts or the first wave. Since they are attacking the world at the same time across the many time lines the enemy generals would have to be partially present at every major battle and can be defeated without running away yelling "I'll get you next time" but they could just kind of like laugh it off.

This opens up the ability to have bonuses or handicaps depending on how well you defeated those generals in the past. And since these battles are all taking place at the same "time" across multiple generations there could be rips in time on the battlefields where you could see ghosts/visions of previous battles i.e. glimpses of your grandfather, future demons attacking soldiers, or even randomly dropped weapons or artifacts from the future or past can slip through the rips.

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So obviously there will be a demon whose got a special attack that makes heroes age rapidly? (Ie they go into battle a young man, they get hit by a demonic spell midbattle, they come out of the battle an old man) Clearly something that powerful would have to be rare (maybe it could only be done by some sort of equivalent of a rare enemy like an XCom Ethereal), but I think that would be awesome.

This is a good idea but equally the opposite should be possible..

In preparation for the final battles, the immortal king can choose to preserve his best heroes into eternal sleep/stasis/hibernation to be awoken when needed most. But there is a very limited number of chances/ limited spaces for a hero to be frozen in time this way so it must be used wisely.

Other heroes may eventually come to worship your legendary frozen heroes, and seek guidance and bonus stats. Or awaken them when disaster strikes.

Demons may specifically target your heroes while they are dormant like this and abduct or corrupt them, so they need to be well defended, which can lead on to a time-limited defend missions where the legendary hero wakes up after a certain number of turns and can be used to wipe out the demons for a short time, but will die if not defended until then.

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Based on Brads statement about battling time I puzzled over the idea for a few days and here is what I was thinking.

TIME IS A WEAPON

• I pondered the idea that you use time itself to vanquish the demons who embody time. Time can only be battled with time.

• Fighting demons does not vanquish them, it only lowers their defense. They are forced into remission or must retreat once the demons defense is reduced to zero (time becomes the demons health). Time gives them strength but time weakens us. Relics may be the only way to finish off a retreating demon (or use a forbidden demon weapon). Both weapons are imbued with time: Demon weapons are created as time passes, but relics are created by heroic feats of a warrior falling in battle.

• A warrior could use standard weapons to combat a demons defense. Then use a relic to attack the demons years of existence (heath) to defeat them. Possibly a warrior is aged at an accelerated rate when a relic defeats a demon (as if taking on the years of the demon). The demon may have a few turns after their physical defense is lowered and if they are not defeated with a relic (or demon weapon) and they leave the battle field. Still a victory but the demon forces are not diminished.

• So following this train of thought maybe defeating a demon with a demon weapon actually strengthens that weapon without aging the warrior (being imbued with a trait from the fallen demon). So the bonus is inherent that a warrior who defeats multiple demons with a demon weapons can battle longer (not aged faster) but his blood line is cursed. The relic on the other hand becomes stronger the more warriors who wield it in battle in that blood line over the ages. So forcing a hero to age at an accelerated rate for defeating demons quickening their foreseeable death can be a strategy as long as they have heirs to wield their relic.

• The first several battles would be an attack on the demons forcing them to retreat. As time passes the warrior will leave relics allowing the next generation to actually do harm to the demons. That way the player feels progression in the strength of their blood lines and knows without a hero falling in victory or due to age (creating a relic) they cannot progress. But stubborn players who wish to not age a hero at an accelerated rate with the relic can pick up a demon weapon, but they better think twice about having children with their cursed blood.

• And furthermore I believe the demons would have a chance to steal the relics of fallen warriors in the battle field in hopes to quell the ability to truly defeat the demons. The player would have siege missions come up to steal back lost relics, or demon weapons.

I was thinking about an opening epilogue for the game. Or maybe information to be revealed as the player progressed. So below is me just having fun.

Your people are fated to endure time.

Your enemy is the embodiment of time.

But you can harness the power of time as a weapon.

You are the immortal king. Once you belonged to group of emperors and empresses who sought the mysterious power of immortality. Once acquired the new immortals found that as time passed from years to decades and from decades to centuries their humanity was lost. As time passed the immortals saw other kingdoms rise and fall but the lords of the kingdoms lineages carried on. Witnessing this the immortals became cruel and wished to punish mortal man. But with your last shred of humanity you bound yourself forever to the Massive Chalice. In doing so your humanity was restored but you would no longer be able to be freed for you would lose you humanity once more and join your demonic brethren. With your wisdom of the passage of time you the immortal king had discovered true immortality. The lives and families intertwining blood lines and growing family trees allowed their ancestors to live in their kin. Only by uniting the kingdoms of the land and strengthening the blood lines will man and women ever have a chance at vanquishing the demonic immortals.

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The anime Mushi-Shi I remember had an episode about a "rust disease" type thing that was spreading in a village. It looks a lot like rusty scabs, and eventually people would turn into a stone fossil almost. It also affected the scenery as well. I'm not doing it justice in explaining it, but it as a terrific series and this is a favorite episode of mine: Here is a youtube of the episode:

I think it is also available on Netflix instant.

Smiles

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Oh man, how did I miss this thread before? And how come nobody has posted Gollum's little rhyme about "All things, this thing devours, birds beasts trees flowers..." yet?

Anyway - need to watch the teamstream before responding, and it seems to be down at the moment. Some quick thoughts:

Taking the opinion that the demons are time (or perhaps more accurately avatars or embodiment of the negative aspects of time from the human perspective) - what then is the MASSIVE CHALICE? I mean the thing itself. The artifact. Seriously, what is it? Something to do with time.

Perhaps the chalice is ultimately revealed to be (SPOILARS?) a hubristic device created by your ancestors in time long forgotten to stop or slow the passage of time. You know, standard guy-not-ready-to-pass-into-death-creates-immortality-macguffin. Substitute kingdom for person if you like. The chalice sits at the heart of the kingdom preserving the land in temporary time-cryostasis but inviting the wrath of the demons as Time Cops, who basically have to come in and right this blasphemy against the natural order.

Maybe part of the ending of the game involves the forces of man needing to accept the necssity of Letting Go -- to continue to move the kingdom down the river of time rather than remain still in it? I'm not sure. What I'm saying is that the Dark Cauldron is rad and that at some point there absolutely needs to be a scene at the end of the game where heroes and demons are battling high above the MASSIVE CHALICE and the player has to actively choose their most venerable and beloved heroes to leap into the chalice of their own free will, thereby breaking the Curse of Time. Also and possibly additionally throwing X number of levels of demons into it too for good measure. Maybe just the archdemon grappling with the Immortal King or Queen Disney style on the lip of the chalice before both tumbling in. Someone needs to go into that chalice, dammit.

Who remembers 1st edition D&D. Ghosts? Attacks age the player several d4s of years. Crazy scary. I actually quite enjoyed the phase of gaming "back in the day" when encountering undead meant encountering terrifying foes with ability to drain levels and lay down the super terrifying permanent effects equipped as standard issue. Of course, I was also the DM so I may be biased in this regard. Nothing compares to the cold stone of terror that materializes in your bowels when you see that final boss of Demon's Souls grab your character and shake several levels of XP out of them before hurling them back to the ground. Cue stunned expression. "Can they DO that?". Of course, must be saved for only the most hardcore and terrifying demons.

Also big props to the contributor who said that the greatest (and possibly only) foe of time was History. If you're looking for the main theme of MC, this, a thousand times.

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Remember: gravity warps time, which could lend itself to telekinetic style or electromagnetic magic with their ultimate effect being a time-increasing attack, turning gear to dust.

If these ideas are too new-fangled to fit in feudal europe they could be re-fluffed with talk of stargrip bringing the humours of a man to ripen/harvest/rot sooner. Agricultural references always fit serf language. Or it could be said the phlogiston in a man were caused to burn hot, consuming the other elements in him sooner.

"My candle burns at both ends; it will not last the night.

But oh my foes and ah my friends, it gives a lovely light."

-Annie Dillard?

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When I really started thinking about this, my thoughts mirrored some of SurplusGamer's, leading me to think about harmony and entropy. I'm tired and thinking out loud here, btw! If everything is 'vibration', waves of energy (see: electromagnetic spectrum), then maybe we can think of dissonance as a configuration of energy which destabilizes and breaks things apart over time, and harmony as a configuration of energy which holds things together over time or facilitates constructive change. Check out 'cymatics' (lots of cool videos on youtube) for a glimpse at how sound\vibration can organize matter.

So maybe time is not the enemy, but in the face of time dissonance will cause destructive change, while harmony will promote stability and health. I think the two forces work in balance together to facilitate life. A little bit of destruction gives room (and need) for transformation and evolution. Growth, improvement. Maybe the immortal ruler can only remain immortal in a state of purity and harmony, with no dissonance at all. Maybe the massive chalice is a resonating chamber which provides this fundamental pure, unwavering and eternal harmonic vibration. The demons embody the extremes of dissonance whose very presence would threaten that immortality, if they were in close enough proximity to contaminate the vibration with their dissonance.

The limitation of the immortality provided by the chalice, then, would be a lack of change and growth. Perhaps the non-immortal humans are all originally from this immortal lineage, and still embody the virtuous harmony of the chalice, but as they venture out and encounter more dissonance in their lives, they are subject to change. They age and decay, but they also grow, evolve and transcend their limitations. Assuming this evolution and growth, creative transformation, is perceived to be desirable, then the humans' battle against the demonic forces could be seen not as a struggle to eradicate those forces entirely, but to keep them at bay to protect the kingdom while maintaining a harmonic balance of the pure\creative and dissonant\destructive forces, to maintain the both the survival of the kingdom and the evolution of it's people. Maybe at a time of crisis, there is the potential for a cataclysm if the demonic forces are not held back, but also the greatest opportunity for growth through the struggle. "Winning" might involve beating back those demonic forces to an extent which creates a golden age of peace... but they will one day return and the evolution will continue.

From this perspective time is not so much the enemy as it is the playground within which this dance of duality takes place.

Edit: Can you tell I'm an audio guy? Also, bards :P

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When I really started thinking about this, my thoughts mirrored some of SurplusGamer's, leading me to think about harmony and entropy. I'm tired and thinking out loud here, btw! If everything is 'vibration', waves of energy (see: electromagnetic spectrum), then maybe we can think of dissonance as a configuration of energy which destabilizes and breaks things apart over time, and harmony as a configuration of energy which holds things together over time or facilitates constructive change. Check out 'cymatics' (lots of cool videos on youtube) for a glimpse at how sound\vibration can organize matter.

So maybe time is not the enemy, but in the face of time dissonance will cause destructive change, while harmony will promote stability and health. I think the two forces work in balance together to facilitate life. A little bit of destruction gives room (and need) for transformation and evolution. Growth, improvement. Maybe the immortal ruler can only remain immortal in a state of purity and harmony, with no dissonance at all. Maybe the massive chalice is a resonating chamber which provides the fundamental harmonic vibration that sustains this pure, unwavering and eternal vibration. The demons embody the extremes of dissonance whose very presence would threaten that immortality, if they were in close enough proximity to contaminate the vibration with their dissonance.

The limitation of the immortality provided by the chalice, then, would be a lack of change and growth. Perhaps the non-immortal humans are all originally from this immortal lineage, and still embody the virtuous harmony of the chalice, but as they venture out and encounter more dissonance in their lives, they are subject to change. They age and decay, but they also grow, evolve and transcend their limitations. Assuming this evolution and growth, creative transformation, is perceived to be desirable, then the humans' battle against the demonic forces could be seen not as a struggle to eradicate those forces entirely, but to keep them at bay to protect the kingdom while maintaining a harmonic balance of the pure\creative and dissonant\destructive forces, to maintain the both the survival of the kingdom and the evolution of it's people. From this perspective time is not so much the enemy as it is the playground within which this dance of duality takes place.

Edit: Can you tell I'm an audio guy? Also, bards :P

Final_Crisis_7_Superman_shatters_Darkseid.JPG

Your description would give the game a more taoist duality morality, where neither the force of permanence (immortal king) nor the force of impermanence (the demons) are evil but each is needed to balance the other and reach an optimum middleground (mankind). Going with your sonic theme, each could be conceived of as a waveform interfering with one another, possibly even from different dimensions, and mankind's where they interlap with one another.

These features are also observable in how active atoms are, agitated in high-energy states or rested, hot or cold, bouncing everywhere and breaking free or solidifying and becoming still, free radicals and nuclear bonds breaking apart to let parts fly or absolute zero: an eternal existence.

A more malignant interpretation could depict the Immortal King as evil or atleast power-hungry as he seeks to prevent change so he can live forever but a betrayal by the authority over player-characters has become a boiler-plate script in videogames I don't want to see re-used.

Another analog is the Immortal King as a force of Order, appropriate as he's singular, and the bloodlines can then be seen as his attempt to unite life in a single form, while the demons in their multitude are a force of Chaos, trying to split apart life into irreconcilably distinct elements. That angle's a little too Mike Moorcock though.

Playing with the idea of time it could be that the Immortal King is the Object at the End of Time, as thought of by Terrence McKenna and appearing in Xenogears and 2001: A Space Odyssey, and/or that the Massive Chalice is, and the reason the demons have appeared and are appearing with increasing power/frequency is the game-setting is approaching the moment of its' creation, when the Massive Chalice emerges from another dimension / is created, and by its' entrance creates ripples into the past and future around its' entry, making the times further in the past and future from the MC's arrival less eventful and the times leading up to its' manifestation rapidly changing.

As somewhat of a paradox, the entire game-narrative could be a world-ending/changing scenario, where when the massive chalice is assembled, awakening the Immortal King (who was "asleep" because he was in stasis in another dimension and doesn't begin to move / have time / be capable of acting until he arrives in the game's dimension) time stops, all the dead heroes are resurrected, as they having ever existed always exists, and they having some of the King's blood are able to live with him forever in paradise, the realm which's a temporal pocket-dimension separate from the demons, yet, although to those in the realm time has ended, a time of downfall from the realm does occur, when those grown discontent with how shattered cups reassemble themselves and food is always perfectly ripe, never rotten or seeds, shatter the massive chalice, destroying the pocket dimension, separating their dimension from the immortal king, becoming demons, and those loyal to the king becoming the founding bloodlines, so that the entire setting is cyclical. But ah can see such a story being lame as players feel they accomplished nothing and gain a fatalist's sense of defeat. To blunt such a feeling this interpretation of the setting could only be implied, as the game's intro narrative talks of a paradise fallen from by the shattering of the chalice and the epilogue describes the arrival of the Immortal King creating a permanent afterlife of plenty, it's only implied for those who want to make the connection that the beginning and endings of the game wrap around and connect.

PS: Edit, since you're a sound guy post your soundtrack suggestions

http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewthread/9586/

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One thought: Seed Bombs. Seed bombs actually exist, though they're balls of compost and clay with a seed stuffed in the middle for renegade flower planting. I also think about how new life grows from dead fallen trees-- there's a neat exhibit at the Olympic Sculpture Park here in Seattle that's a greenhouse with a fallen tree and things growing out of it. Plants can destroy anything, if you don't maintain a sidewalk then the weeds will eventually break it completely down. Once I went to RFK Stadium in Washington DC, I was up in the balcony section and I found plants growing out of the concrete up there. Plants are ultimately unstoppable though not very fast at what they do. Add a bit of magic or a mutagen, or maybe summon a forest spirit, and you have an army of life to pit against death.

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Thanks for that interesting exploration of ideas Blood Bridle. I find McKenna's "great attractor at the end of time" very interesting, and I perceive it to be the state of unity that everything both emanated from and is, in a way, gravitationally pulled back toward. It is literally the singularity that the big bang is said to have emanated from, and the idea of it being both the beginning and the end of time is very interesting (although whether or not that beginning or end need ever occur is another question.. the expansive\repulsive and implosive\attractive forces of the singularity could simply be the precondition for the creation of an infinite ever-changing now). Cyclic time could work in with the game beautifully (multiple playthroughs representing new cycles, not to mention smaller cycles of peace and war within each playthrough). There are some interesting theories floating around about the 'precession of the equinoxes', and even the position of our solar system in the galaxy and it's own cyclic movement through it, influencing consciousness on the planet, leading to a cycling between ignorance\conflict and enlightenment\peace, and this cycle underpinning the longer term evolution of life on the planet. The Mayan calendar and culture specifically deals with these kinds of cycles as well. It's all very interesting and full of rich pickings for a fantasy universe in my opinion.

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Thanks for that interesting exploration of ideas Blood Bridle.

Back at ya.

the 'precession of the equinoxes',... a cycling between ignorance\conflict and enlightenment\peace, and this cycle underpinning the longer term evolution of life on the planet.

This relates to an idea I had but've failed to flesh out.

Say there are twin dimensions connected by the third pocket-dimension of the Immortal King. Each dimension seeks the paradise-state of the immortal king's dimension which requires capturing the Massive Chalice. Only one dimension can possess the MC in whole at once. This leads to an endless struggle between the two where the one losing the Chalice becomes increasingly destabilized (demonic), invading the other's dimension (gaining the ability to permeate dimensions because they've become so chaotic, like an energized molecule piercing a membrane) to regain the MC. These facts aren't ever explicitly told the player, only hinted at with references to how his own people began to degenerate and warp without the stabilization of the MC pieces, which can prompt players to think, "hey, what if the process of degeneration continued...the humans might become like the demons and need the MC to stop their degenera-oh." and there'd be other pieces of lore mentioning a twin dimension to complete such theories for scholastic players. So where are the MC fragments?

1) It could be the player's side already has them but has lost track of them in its' lands and needs to recover them.

2) Could be the player's side has them and knows where they are but has forgotten the means to re-unify them and must research this project, akin to the philosopher's stone, quitter-heretics claiming the disparate parts have no means of unifying.

3) Could be the demons only recently captured nearly all the pieces, are rushing to gain the last ones, and your re-capturing of the pieces prevents them from re-stabilizing.

Breaking from a cycle narrative structure, it could be that the player's playthrough is significant because it ends the cycle. His side finally permanently retains the MC long enough that the other dimension completely destabilizes, losing their bodies and sentience into a primordial chaos.

4708166129_b40aa21662_b.jpg

The Immortal King concept lends itself to the various Fisher King style stories in europe of a great leader who didn't die but only slumbers, awaiting a time of dire need to re-awaken and lead his people; Jesus and King Arthur are the most famous examples. Likewise a holy relic to reclaim which's a Chalice naturally draws from Holy Grail mythology. Given the bloodlines they could go for a Dan Brown tweest and say the Chalice is actually a womb, the thing the households are constructing through their relic-capturing is the ultimate baby, creating a vessel hardy enough to withstand possession by the Immortal King's spirit, through generations of battle and eugenic breeding. Kinda like what's-his-face from Dune.

Game mechanics wise, a cool feature would be to've the final battle be larger than any previous, resurrecting all the fallen heroes and generating enough demons to counter-balance them. Though if such a number of models/calculations would cause a OOM crash ah guess it's best they be in the background, or mentioned/shown resurrecting though fighting elsewhere.

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It is a very hard game concept to implement if it is not well ballanced..

I wonder where this is going...

-edit-

The core concept is that the Demons embody the effects that time have on our world.

If demons get stronger by adapting to a harsher world, humankind will develop items/tools/technology to alter this

Balance is back.

If in time Demons will change (strengthen as the game-world progresses) and humans will get stronger siblings the humans are in advance.

Therefore it would be cool if the demons also mix races through siblings. Neglect 2 nearby areas in the game and they will pair.

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Woah woah woah. Taking a break from work to post on this, because this is just too cool of a concept. I love the idea, love the feedback that's been given, love the metaphysical discussions around how that concept plays out on the thematic level, love how the discussion has taken a turn towards Tao... Since so much cool stuff has already been discussed, I'll just point to a few things in the battle system that I think would help with the concept of fighting time.

1) Plenty discussed already, mostly added for completeness sake: corrosion. Things around the demons corrode quicker, burn quicker, age more quickly. Equipment impact: negative. Things fall apart more quickly.

2) Attacks: demons that move time the most (since I'm assuming that a fight against time is a fight against time running more quickly than expected) are affected more by attacks. F=ma and E=mv^2/2 imply that anything moving more quickly does more damage.

3) Initiative (hoo boy I remember the discussions around this): demons generally have more initiative, and as players get closer to them, their initiative goes down.

4) Environment (oh please oh please oh please have deformable terrain!):

- small trees that provide cover grow into impassable hedges. Impassable hedges die off and become passable.

- Creeks grow into rivers, rivers grow into deltas, deltas grow into swamps. Swamps drain out and become dry, where a small creek forms again.

- Mountains turn into hills, hills turn into flatlands. Sink holes appear and fill in. Flat lands rise up and turn into mountains

- heroes age and can die of old age. Children in battle turn into adult heroes (minus the experience that normally comes with it).

Two things that I notice as I type things out:

1) There's a cyclical nature to the environment. The environment changes, but there never is a terminal stage. It's all just part of being a point on a continuous loop. Could tie into the Taoist discussion from earlier. The more I think about it, the more I like it.

2) If demons have a time aura, that would heavily skew battles toward ranged fighters. Either the melee fighters need some sort of time boost, or they need to have some special advantage over ranged fighters. Alternatively, the game could set it up that specific demons influence time in a particular way. Just their mere presence alters time on the entire battlefield. Remove the demon, and time starts to flow normally again.

Last thought: corrosion also puts a time limit on battles. When all your equipment has corroded and rotted away, battles will become much harder. Manufacturing equipment regularly then becomes important, as well as not making it a pain to do so and to equip your fighters. Example: manufacturing could make sure that there is always a supply of certain bows and swords available, and if you equip someone with it once, they'll always auto-equip it when they lose it.

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I might be a little late to the party on this one, but I've been thinking a bit about it. The first (and thus far only) thing on the list that I've been struck with an idea on is Growth and Decay.

First, Decay. As a former long time Magic: The Gathering player (as I'm sure most if not all of you can relate), swamps have always been a link to Decay for me. A prime example is Pestilence

PestilencePic.jpg

This was the art at the time I started playing and sticks out very well as an example of decay. This comes out of Swamps, which seem to be a very commonly thought of place of decay, rotten trees, malaria baring mosquitoes, ominous fog, etc... which bears well the idea of a pestilent thing rising from the depths to bear disease on the lands. However, the swamps also lead into the idea of Growth. A swamp is lined with living trees, populated by fungus (which are, as just mentioned, a living thing that breaks down and decays for nutrition) ferns and trees that are alive, not to mention the algae and host of other plants, insects and even some animals such as crocodiles. This got me thinking of something more: Swamp Thing

200px-Swamp_Thing_Vol_5_1.jpg

And while, as a disclaimer, I haven't read Swamp Thing, I do understand that he can control and grow plant life.

I guess what I'm really getting at is that Growth and Decay can largely be opposite sides of the same coin. As it relates to making Demons, there can be decay out of growth, growing plants or fungi that get the nutrients from unsuspecting heroes, or poisonous spores out of plants grown. An awesome idea would be if a growth/decay demon were to kill a hero, create a spore cloud/plant that could infect an area or shoot at other heroes (in the case of a plant. Clouds aren't really known to shoot).

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