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View Full Version : Critique this story idea (and plot twist)



Dr.Epic
2011-08-30, 07:51 AM
So basically I have an idea for a story, but I'm not sure about the ending, and really that's the inspiration for this story. That's sort of how I came up with this story. I thought up this twist first, and it developed from there. At least, I think that's where most of the inspiration for the story came from. It's sort of a murder mystery with a ton of red herrings and the twist at the end is usually the best part of these stories. So, here's the tale in a nut shell (also, at one point I was using this as the plot for RPG with some people on this forum so if any of my former players ever wondered how it ended here it is):

Basically this story takes place in a medieval fantasy story. It's not completely serious (or at least it doesn't have to be). I mean, I'm still deciding if it will be a little lighthearted or completely gritty. I'm not sure how well murder mystery and medieval fantasy mix so if I make it a comedy it'll be more centered around laughs and not plot.

Anyway, the plot starts off with a massive explosion to the royal castle killing the king. It should be noted that this is not the first royal assassination. The previous king (the father of the just exploded king) was also killed and they were also murdered with magic. However, the real killer for that was never found. From here, the main character investigate several possible suspects. And there are several. Most of which were suspects for the last regicide. There's an elven archmage who many consider to be more than capable of doing these acts. There's noblemen and generals who wouldn't mind the change in government and rising up in their ranks. There's a bandit king know for running a bootlegging and other illegal acts organization. There's a rival nation that has fought with this nation several times over border restrictions. There's a cult that not too many people know about.

Basically a ton of red herrings. Each with an interesting story. Over time, the government gets paranoid about who did this and the leading powers set up tight restrictions. Eventually, a new war breaks out withe rival nation. During the violent battles, the murderer is finally revealed to be...

the king. Yes. The king murdered the king. Let me explain. The king supposedly murdered himself in an attempt to gain more power. If you're confused, it's okay. I'll elaborate. Basically, the king was born with magical abilities. His father was worried about such powers corrupting his son and sent him off to a local monastery for several weeks in an attempt to teach the boy morals. He however tells no one about his son's powers because he fears what people would think.

The then prince grows annoyed at this treatment from his father. He teleports back home in an instance, murders his father with magic, and returns to the monastery before anyone notices he was gone. An inquisition is done trying to find the killer, but he's never found out.

From here, the prince develops his powers mastering the arcane arts. This goes to his head and he seeks eternal life and world domination. (Of Course!) However, he realizes his nation would never accept an undead lich with a god complex as its ruler. So he fakes his death. He realizes that his mysterious death would send the country into a frenzy leading to war and other disasterous consequences. He would then appear in his new undead form with his vast magical power and save them from the brink of destruction thus forcing the people to accept him as their ruler.

So what do you think? The twist any good?

Oppolo
2011-08-30, 08:28 AM
Even though It's safe to assume everyone read both spoilers if they're reading this, I'll spoiler my comments just in case.


I think it's an interesting story, and open to loads of flavour. Given the old king sent off his son, we'll assume magic isn't exactly welcomed in the kingdom, so that makes the Elven Archmage more interesting than usual, is he a hermit or just needlessly hated by the populace?

Also, if the King was going pretty crazy with his magical powers, we can assume that the people closest to him knew his secret. After all, it's hard to go mad with power and not show off a little. Did his wife and friends die mysteriously recently, or are they just avoiding the questions of our heroes?

I'm seeing the bandit king as some kind of Mafia don, evasive but intelligent and probably keen to know who the murderer was too. After all, a bandit king needs to be well connected.

The best and worst part is the finale. On the one hand, you've got your big twist all set up for a grand finale. On the other hand, it doesn't solve anything. Do they let the lich-king take the throne? He hasn't actually done anything wrong yet, he hasn't hurt anybody, so killing him seems totally unjustified.
If they don't let him take the throne, who gets it? The war continues. I think wrapping up all your plotlines could be difficult.

Dr.Epic
2011-08-30, 09:53 AM
Even though It's safe to assume everyone read both spoilers if they're reading this, I'll spoiler my comments just in case.


I think it's an interesting story, and open to loads of flavour. Given the old king sent off his son, we'll assume magic isn't exactly welcomed in the kingdom, so that makes the Elven Archmage more interesting than usual, is he a hermit or just needlessly hated by the populace?

Elf mage is actually headmaster at a wizards school, but after a lengthy and overly investigative trial after the first king's death, left the capital and set up his school on the outer limits of the kingdom. The elf's background is he's technically a half-elf and grew up in an all elf village and was persecuted for it. He moved to a human nation hoping to be excepted but was again a victim of prejudice.

Magic is (or at least was) fairly welcomed. The king was worried about his son because he saw him doing some questionable acts with it and sent him to live with monks to learn restraint.


Also, if the King was going pretty crazy with his magical powers, we can assume that the people closest to him knew his secret. After all, it's hard to go mad with power and not show off a little. Did his wife and friends die mysteriously recently, or are they just avoiding the questions of our heroes?

The king kept it a secret to avoid any suspicious he killed his father. Also, he was researching dark magic. In fact, he set up a special division in his guard to hunt down such dark piece of magic which he then studied in secret.


I'm seeing the bandit king as some kind of Mafia don, evasive but intelligent and probably keen to know who the murderer was too. After all, a bandit king needs to be well connected.

The backstory with the bandit is after the death of the first king many of the freedoms in the kingdom were suspended. He saw that as an opportunity to become a bootlegger and make a fortune. However, he had to continuous remain several steps ahead of the guard to avoid arrest. This in turn lead to him spending most of his life in a dark cave avoiding the law and sending out his orders to maintain his crime empire. The point of this character other than a red herring is he was someone who thought he could make some quick money but got caught up in the criminal life and now spends his days in constant paranoia making sure his cutthroat business partners are happy and he isn't caught by the guard. He sits alone in his cave wishing he could go back undo his life of crime.


The best and worst part is the finale. On the one hand, you've got your big twist all set up for a grand finale. On the other hand, it doesn't solve anything. Do they let the lich-king take the throne? He hasn't actually done anything wrong yet, he hasn't hurt anybody, so killing him seems totally unjustified.
If they don't let him take the throne, who gets it? The war continues. I think wrapping up all your plotlines could be difficult.


The big reveal isn't quite the end, but it does mark the coming of the climax and arrival of the third act. The nation is falling apart and is engaged in a war it's losing. But then a ray of sun shine appears. They can win they war and even be more a greater nation than before, but they have to use a means they we taught was immoral. Really, it sort of puts the character to their limits. Some people think they should let him. Others don't. And people feel utterly betrayed and don't know what to do. The ending is meant to make you feel a feeling of betrayal and left with the decision of either total destruction or selling your soul. It's meant to make the characters (and in turn the reader) question what is the right thing to do here. From here, the main characters set out to destroy the lich even though he has great power and the support of many people.

leakingpen
2011-08-30, 11:38 AM
I like the twist. I've seen it done before, where a person "offs" themselves in order to split insurance money and move away, or just move away, people thinking they are dead. But as long as you do it well, I could see that making a good story.

Dr.Epic
2011-08-30, 12:26 PM
I like the twist. I've seen it done before, where a person "offs" themselves in order to split insurance money and move away, or just move away, people thinking they are dead. But as long as you do it well, I could see that making a good story.

Is it done well here?

leakingpen
2011-08-30, 06:24 PM
well, it could be. I'd have to see the finished product to tell you.

Dr.Epic
2011-09-01, 01:24 PM
well, it could be. I'd have to see the finished product to tell you.

I'm worried people will thing it's a comp out. Like, I guess if I put some subtle foreshadowing in the story, it might not seem like so. But still, I don't want people to claim the twist is bad because it comes out of nowhere, is just too random, or completely unlikely.