Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Game Story: Subverting the Arthurian Legend

For my pre-production module, yet to be titled, I will create a number of concept art pieces for use in describing and visualising the design of the characters, environments and interfaces for a video game. To set this game within a world with a background and story that would have a lot of scope to draw from, I have decided to base my game within Arthurian legend. For this I will mainly take influence from a number of sources that look into the character of King Arthur and his contemporaries as a legendary figure, not necessarily historically true, but based on the accounts of writers after his lifetime and their take on his legacy. This will allow me to look into folklore, written manuscripts from the period that bore his stories and other relevant media from the modern age that creates and supports an idea of the Arthurian legend that I could draw from myself. In addition to this, by basing my research and game setting within the rich narrative of King Arthur, I will be able to create a game world based on the fantasy of the stories told surrounding him. This will allow me to subvert and re-imagine various stories, characters and areas that have been told over the years into a new version based on my own interpretation, mixing the legend with other genres and media.

My initial idea revolves around a historical fantasy retelling based initially from Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain) take on King Arthur and his contemporaries. Written c. 1136 it first mentions Arthur as the son Uther Pendragon and chronicles his life as king through Anglo-Saxon England in the Early Middle Ages until his death at the battle of Camblan against Mordred, his nephew. From here Arthur is taken to the mystical isle of Avalon, where his famed sword Excalibur is forged, and dies there. Within Monmouth's scriptures he describes the characters of Merlin, Guinevere and Lancelot among others. Now contested as a fatally flawed account of King Arthur, many of the events that took place within History of the Kings of Britain have remained today, regardless of their factual irrelevancy.

By using these well-known characters as a base for my own game idea, I have decided to create my own version of the King Arthur story, taking elements such as the Holy Grail, the Knights of the Round Table and the mystical locations mentioned in the variety of sources and creating my own version of events. 

The Idea

Taking place around the Early Middle Ages, the game world is set in an alternate reality where magic exists to the select few who know of its whereabouts. The world is filled with ancient ruins and quant cities that buzz with life. The legendary King Arthur, holder of Excalibur, is the warlord ruler of the country. After hearing a number of rumours through his court of a mystical object thought to be connected to God himself, he decides to set out on a quest to find the famed Holy Grail. With the help of his loyal Knights of the Round Table, the troupe eventually come across the artefact where they find it resonating with an ancient, chilling magic that instills fear in everyone but Arthur. After much pleading to destroy the object from Merlin, Arthur ignores his companion and steps closer towards the Grail. Enthralling him immediately with its insidious power the King returns home and gradually becomes fractured and insane. He shuts himself away from the world with only the Grail at hand. 

After months of deliberation the Knights of the Round Table disband. Unable to persuade the King to return to duty they leave on separate quests to live out their lives in solitude. Days later a huge explosion rocks Arthur's castle of Camelot, immediately killing thousands in the surrounding area. At the epicentre sits a transformed version of the King now ravaged into a monstrous demi-god. Rising from his throne Arthur travels to Avalon, slaughtering his remaining subjects and destroying all of those that stand in his way with an overwhelming demonic power that controls his every move.

Hearing news of the atrocities committed by Arthur across the land the remaining Knights of the Round Table, Merlin and Arthur's once wife Guinevere one by one converge to discuss how to tackle the King. Days of deliberation pass with no solution at hand, continually building tension within the companions. Some decide to set out to destroy the now demon King outright, vanishing Arthur and the power from existence. Others decide to try and save Arthur from the force that now uses him as a vessel, aiming to destroy the Grail and hopefully keeping the King alive. Additionally, under the guise of salvation, a select number also craved the destructive power for their own gain. An impasse was reached. Those who were once friends on the battlefield turned their steel upon each other. A race to destroy King Arthur had been created. 

This is where the game begins.

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