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Plant Protagonist

Plant Protagonist is a working title for an unnamed idea that began as a fannish brainstorm for a remake of Grawsie's game Pandora's Seed, but my ideas are not compatible with his universe so they could be used for a new game idea.

Character creation

In Grawsie's game the player character is a plant-themed humanoid created by a diety, and NPCs comment on the PC's green skin and purple eyes.

Drawing from the concept that the player character was designed for a purpose, we can make this design part of the game by allowing the player to distribute the character's core stats on creation like in Fallout. These stats might be:

  • Appearance - how the PC is designed to fit in to society. Implemented like a classical “charisma” stat. Low level appearance may make you look monstrous like a classical ent, and most people will run away from you or attack you. At high levels you might copy the appearance of the peoples' goddess statues.
  • Toughness - Thickens your skin, giving you permanent extra armor. Increasing this stat can reduce the appearance stat by causing your skin to have a coarse appearance.
  • Magic affinity - Ability to cast spells and resist magic attacks. Changes your appearance by causing your skin to glow.
  • Speed - A permanent movement boost would be nice. Movement speed and attack speed are each gameable.
  • Rejuvenation - Speed of restoring energy from the sun and the earth, because you are a plant. Rejuvenation is faster in sunlight and when standing on dirt, and slow on a tile-floor dungeon.

Slider implementation

This can be implemented with three sliders:

  • Skin: from Humanlike (Charisma+) to Tough (Armor+, Speed-)
  • Build: from Nimble (Speed+) to Stout (HP, Power+)
  • Magic Flow: from Inspirative (Regen+) to Evocative (MP, Power+)

If there are 7 indexes per slider, we will need 343 character models. Ouch!

Alterately, produce a smaller number of key models based on Build: 2 extremes and 2 intermediaries. Produce skins for each key model and use a morphing algorithm to produce an appearance at any in-between state.

As a New Game +

Possibly, the ability to modify the character may be locked until after the game has been beaten once. I am leaning against this idea and more towards allowing players to experiment. Veteran players who reinstall the game five years later will not want to have to go through a whole game before trying it again.

NPC interactions

With the ability to adjust the player's appearance to be more or less humanlike, the game should provide a spectrum of interactions.

Because your character is not human and not any known creature, people will react to you with fear, confusion, or curiousity. Your favor can improve with some individuals as you help them and their friends. You can get items from the humans that will help you on your journey.

At one extreme of appearance you are a monster, feared and detested by everyone, who only needs to defeat the bosses and leave, skipping nearly all human interactions. You are powerful enough that you don't need anything from the humans anyway. Human inhabitations became barriers to your movement, forcing you to sneak or fight your way through them.

At the opposite extreme you are recognized as a gift from the Goddess, a savior, a paladin sent to help humanity. People will want to craft items for you and you can buy them at cost. Some quests maybe skipped because the people automatically trust you.

Trust gains over time?

It may be possible to gain trust with the population by simply being near them for days without doing anything harmful. They might gain one point of trust per game-day until trust reaches to a neutral level.

Interaction examples

You get a deliver-a-letter quest, but because of your low charisma the target is too afraid of you to talk to you. You can wait until night and leave the letter at the target's doorstep or in a mailbox.

The Swamp Thing can't book a hotel

Because a zero-charisma character will have trouble finding a hotel to spend the night in, there must be an alternate method of bunkering down for the night to avoid the most dangerous monsters without forcing the player to die of boredom waiting for day to break. Save points could be used for this purpose.

NPC behavior changes as the plot advances

The bosses in PS are human emotions such as envy, wrath, etc. Assume that they cultivate such emotions in humanity. Defeating them should have an effect on human interactions. Defeating the force of Envy or Avarice could cause a general reduction in greed causing there to be fewer bandits, the guards will behave better, a stolen item quest may not appear if you have not yet triggered it, and so on.

Defeating the death boss may cause most skeletons, zombies, and ghosts to disappear from the map, or cause changes in dialogue in situations such as where an NPC might have spoken of a desire to see someone die painfully.

The script could be written so that bosses are negative on the whole but removing them also has a negative effect on certain people. While the obvious bleeding wounds of society are healed when you defeat the bosses, there could also be changes here and there that make you wonder if you really did the right thing. A less greedy shopkeeper not to care about competing with other shopkeepers, keeping fewer items in stock. A less prideful NPC may give up on a project to improve their house, farm, etc to be as good as someone else's.

Stat upgrades

PS gives the player upgrade points on every level. The player can choose to assign these points to HP, MP, Power, and Armor, and will maximize Power and Armor because they are permanent and give the greatest gameplay advantage.

Potential changes:

  • Rebalance the stats and damage functions so Power and Armor are not such obvious choices
  • Offer more stats to upgrade.
  • Automate stat upgrades, lock in a pattern at character creation, and make manual stat upgrade opportunities rare opportunities.
  • Offer a separate set of core stats that can be modified on character creation but cannot be easily modified during gameplay.

Alternate system: random upgrade

Imagine that the remake automatically increases a random stat on leveling up, with the randomness guided by a character profile that prefers certain stats over others. There should be additional gameable methods of improving stats that provide the opportunity for manual intervention.

Weighted upgrades

Imagine that upgrades are normally random but on rare occurrences, such as every N levels, you choose a stat to upgrade that will also be given a weight that increases its likelihood of being chosen by the randomizer in the future. The weight may be called a “seed” in-game to keep with the plant theme,

Alternately, the seed might grant the stat a chance of improving on its own in addition to the chance of being chosen by the randomizer. Each seed assigned to a stat could raise a counter by a random 0-100% on levelup and improves the stat when it gets to 100%.

Seeds could potentially be found as treasures in dungeons or acquired from people.

There may be one seed in the universe that is hardcoded to each stat plus a number of manually-settable seeds.

Special powers

Special powers should either have at least two gameplay effects, or significantly impact the gameplay in some manner. PS was good at this.

This section is mostly a list of failed brainstorming with explanations of why the ideas are bad so I do not think of them again.


Consider that breaking through cracks is something that plants are very good at, and we can propose an alternative power for breaking cracked pillars: you send tendrils into the crack and split the barrier open. This takes some time, so you will want to clear away nearby enemies. The player should be able to tap a button to spend MP to break the rock more quickly.

A sentient plant that can send out tendrils into cracks could also pick locks. For the sake of gameplay, we may not want to consider that.

Keep the speed boots

The speed boots are useful for moving around the map so they should stay in the game. Possibly change the item to something other than boots. Maybe a magical hovering platform that you stand on, or just a levitation and flying spell.

Thorn whip

A longer ranged melee attack, temporarily turning your arm into a thorny branch and swinging it outward.

Argument against: why would you have a sword if you have this power?


Use poison pools offensively instead of being the victim of poison.

Argument against: So, why would you be vulnerable to poison?


Cover part of the screen with clouds. Enemy AI is unable to detect your position while you are in the cloud.

Argument against: The enemy AIs in the current game hardly ever consider your position, and even a stupid AI would just shoot/charge into the cloud.

Bark Armor

Grow an extra layer of skin and gain a point of armor or two. If this is stackable, it should reduce the rate of MP regeneration.

Argument against: Think of the artists!


Expel droplets of sap onto the ground. Enemies that walk onto them are slowed or stuck for a moment.

Argument against: The conceivable use is keeping fast enemies off your back. Any damage spell with knockback would be more useful.

Vine wrap

Wrap an enemy in vines and leave them stunned for a while.

Argument against: players would rather just hit them with a damage spell, and this may be too powerful for bosses

Razor Leaves

Fire a multitude of low-damage projectiles. Best used on unarmored targets. Short or medium range. The attack may repeat for as long as you hold down the attack button. Alternately, holding the button may lead to a charged attack that fires several shots at once.

Argument against: Redundant with other bullet spells

Note: This may be an area spell rather than a bullet spell. That would make it redundant with your spin attack.

plant_protagonist.txt · Last modified: 2016/03/06 05:51 by deltatango