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What do you get when you take a literary novel, add fantasy role-playing elements and mix in some custom music? The new single-player, persistent browser-based game (PBBG) role-playing novel. Over two years in the making, the “RPN” presents short (one hour) episodes that are both read and played; “read” as a linear novel (that is, the storyline always proceeds in a straight line as the author intended) and yet “played” as a role-playing game (utilizing traditional gaming elements such as party characters, monsters, combat, inventory and player interactivity). If you remember the old paper-based “pick-a-path” adventures that were popular years ago, imagine an online version that is vastly improved!
Players begin the RPN by registering themselves, and then start the initial episode (“Coming of Age”) as a young teen growing-up within the fantasy world of Mairiga. A series of short (one or two paragraph) scenarios are presented; the player reads the text to understand what is happening, selects from up to three options to specifically resolve the encounter, and then must face the consequences of that selection. Each episode consists of several dozen such scenarios, all completed in linear fashion yet presented in an interactive format.
For example, a scenario may present an encounter with a group of zombies. One option may be to attack; play then shifts to a simple turn-based combat system that soon resolves the conflict. However, the second option may allow the player to converse with the creatures (perhaps they can be reasoned with), while a third option may allow any priests within the party to magically remove the undead status of the zombies and reduce them back to dust (and receiving bonus “mind points” in the process). Each scenario is unique, each resolution can involve a variety of consequences (both good and bad), and each player will ultimately find his own path through the RPN.
Players (and the party heroes directly controlled by them) possess several basic attributes that can change throughout the RPN. As play begins, the player’s hero will assume a profession (defender, healerpriest or scout) that consists of body points (a measuring of the physical), mind points (measurement of the mental) and spirit points (measurement of the spiritual), and as scenarios are encountered and resolved, these attributes will rise and fall accordingly (along with overall party wealth and reputation). And to better support the player and his journeys throughout the RPN, an auto-mapping feature is provided as well as a “lore” mechanism that allows the player to look-up creature, item, location and general knowledge descriptions at any time.
Click to begin the RPN. Play is always free, and only requires a modern browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Safari); DSL or a cable modem is preferred, while Adobe Flash is required for background music. For an overview of the Mairigan fantasy world, review the Track One slideshow.