And I need to learn Ren'Py, anyway!
So, anyway, here's the pitch below, cleaned up from my Tumblr! I wrote it in, like, thirty minutes, after seeing the trailer for the Steam release. (Not to brag, but, like, I've been into LLTQ before it, like, sold out and became corporate *adjusts stupid hipster glasses, unaware that hipster jokes have long stopped being cool*. Bought it at Fanime 2012.)
Mandate of Heaven tells the story of the humble musician, Togami, and his rise to power in the fair kingdom of Shanjian. Becoming King by winning the heart of the fair empress, he rules benevolently, calming disputes between former city-states, trading with the neighboring countries, navigating cultural differences, the scars of war, to bring peace and joy to all in the land. And how he died by being backstabbed by a former warlord, angry that this man has taken all the power for himself.
No, wait, that’s not it.
Mandate of Heaven is a sordid tale of a devil who hid his black heart beneath charm and beauty, rising to power through nobles’ bedrooms and poison. Through dangerous liasons, he began gathering black magic to conquer the Earth, his lust only matched by his thirst for power. Men and women, used and thrown away like dolls, innocents ensnared and slain as he seeks to cover up his psychopathic actions. Thankfully, his long-suffering wife, the empress, stabbed him through the heart, just as he metaphorically stabbed her through the heart when he openly took a mistress.
Uh, hold on a tick…
Mandate of Heaven is a tale of grim bloodshed. The War God incarnated, he commands his armies – loyal, fiercely cynical, and heartless to all but their own. In battle, they lay waste to all they see. Men, women, children fall to the blade. Everything in his horrific empire went to war – children drafted and beaten until the weak die and the strong are laughing sadists, technology forwarded only when it could maim a man, a storm of swords that would have turned the world to fire – had it not been for the monster invasion that swept the land and snuffed out the evil fires of Shanjian.
That’s not how it went!
Mandate of Heaven is a tragedy and a warning to those who would be involved in politics. A musician, poor in money, but rich in voice, catches the eye of the scheming harlot Empress Junko. Despite the lavish weddings and promises laid to him, he quickly finds himself nothing more than a toy for the Empress – a toy who has become boring. Helpless and powerless, he witnesses the rotten touch of the rich and the powerful as they backstab each other, only missing their daggers and their plots by pure luck, until sickness took him and he died heartbroken by this sinful Earth, taken in by the pitying Gods.
Huh. I don’t remember that happening, give me a second...
Mandate of Heaven documents a kinda boring musician who became emperor. He spent most of his time cringing at criticism, hiding in his room, growing paranoid about magic plots, muttering things about demons, annoying his wife, and eating lots of food. Oh, and then he went and started getting really, really touchy about hand-washing. Seriously, what did the empress see in him? I mean, his voice wanted Junko to leap on him, sure, but voices don’t do stuff as a king, especially not when Nova across the sea bombed his castle into a crater.
Wait, wait, wait-
Mandate of Heaven is an ode to our fair king – may he live ten thousand years! - as he slashes and sings his way to the heart of the people. What an army can do, he can do – slaying the rampaging dragons, killing the evil kumiho that has slain again and again, exorcising the ghosts of those who died in agony from the fair city, spying on the brutal regime of Nova and bringing back stolen treasures. One can see why Junko fell for such a charming rogue. And there he goes, getting decapitated by the cruel dictator Elodie.
Mandate of Heaven is a mod for Long Live the Queen. Players take control of Togami, the antagonist of Long Live the Queen, starting from the day royal decree ascends him to the throne, by way of winning the heart of the ruler of Shanjian, Junko.
Unlike Long Live the Queen, however, where events were set in stone, Mandate of Heaven randomizes its events. How randomized is up to the player – you can choose how the nations around Shanjian will be like. Will you be facing power-hungry, war-hardened countries that Shanjia has committed crimes against before, making peace treaties difficult? Or will you crush peaceful, pacifist nations only interested in agriculture? You can choose if Shanjia is teetering on the edge of Civil War, or you can choose have it be united – and drive it apart by your incompetence. You can choose if the royal court of Shanjian is a decadent hellhole not even demons will touch – or if the threats will only come from afar, with your nobles all honest men and women. You can choose if Princess Elodie, our unfortunate queen-to-be in Long Live the Queen, will be a meek, unskilled girl you will gleefully murder for no other reason than having some sort of grudge against everything that is good and just, or a black hole of precocious evil that will chop your head off. And so on and so forth.
Of course, that’s just the parameters you set at the beginning of the game. Diving into the game itself will have Togami navigate, among other things: precarious relationships with neighboring countries after wars since the beginning of time further widened by traditionalism and totally not a metaphor for Japan, China, Korea, and every other Asian nation, navigating cultural differences where infuriating a messenger by eating the wrong way could lead to war, dealing with the growing problem of magic users - “Lumen” - in your country and trying to avoid getting blown up by a possible conspiracy, sicknesses, poisons, trying to suss out schemes to kill you and ascend the throne, rampaging monsters breaking into your fair country, barbarian hordes, corruption, social change, economic crashes, resources running dry, directing resources and funding to technological marvels and projects that may or may not turn out to be a waste of gold, leading from the front and directing your troops or staying in the comfort of your own castle, and the chance the adorable pink-haired girl across the sea is an evil witch who was responsible for killing your dad.
The Mandate of Heaven, your gods-given right to rule, only ensures you command the nation. After that, your chances of survival are to the wind…
TL;DR: Chinese Long Live the Queen! NOW WITH RANDOM EVENTS!
As you can see, this was inspired by that guy who helped on Gone Home complaining about the lack of randomization in LLTQ... and my own insomnia-fueled adventures of dying in Dwarf Fortress and Dungeons of Dredmor. What if LLTQ was a roguelike? And besides, Togami didn't get much personality beyond "is a dick" and "hates children that aren't his" and also "is a sucker for good music". So, hey, why not scoop it all out and make him a player character?!
So, anyway. I haven't touched a lick of Ren'Py and coding causes my nose to be all stuffy and boulders to smash around in my head (and the fact my lazy ass hasn't even CHECKED if LLTQ can be easily modded - I've messed with the scripts some, mostly so I can find out all the cruel actions because I don't like being a dick to imaginary electronic people) so I might be lazy and do it in a Twine game, except I'm not sure if Twine can support RPG-style stuff! I figure I'll also be lazy and use the same character templates anyone not-Elodie used. Or get off my ass, get another job, and hire an artist.
As above, heavily WIP! I'm mostly writing dialogue and events, just so I'm not the "Idea Guy" who'll beg some coder to do all the heavy lifting for him. Expect updates! Even if they come in two years to say 'yeah, this was a bad idea, goodbye'!