Storyboard: The RIFT project - week 1

So.  Anyone want to complain about non-MMO pictures up here?  I can do another six weeks of nonsense easy.
While I had expected this project to get shoehorned into a footnote over the next few weeks, the majority vote was in favor of seeing this recapped every week. So it's time for the first recap of the RIFT project, which will cover just about a week of time spent in the game as of Wednesday. That means recapping characters, giving a brief summary of events, and giving everyone an idea of how well the project is working out thus far.

I'm going to go on the record stating two things, just in case they weren't clear from the first column. The first thing is that this project is not an official Massively thing by nature, just something that I had dreamed up and figured would be interesting to read about. Second, I'm well aware that I'm probably going to have one or two enormous lore holes in my recaps or character summaries. Those of you who read regularly probably already know that I lose precisely no sleep over this fact, and you should not either. It's just a game; we should all really just relax.

With the preamble out of the way, let's get into the story so far.

Riftstalkers are officially one of my favorite things ever already.Dramatis personae

Qinu (Guardian, Elf, Cleric): Despite being a Cleric, Qinu has never actually been what you'd call a believer. About the only thing he does believe in is intellectual superiority, although being smart didn't help him much when he wound up getting killed and Ascended. Those less charitable might describe him as a con artist, but that implies that he's out to make money, which isn't really the case; he's just happy to make some while he's trying to not get killed again. Since being Ascended, he has been blessed with visions of the future from the deities of the Vigil, but these visions are exclusively about wholly useless facts such as whether or not you'll stub your toe when getting out of bed tomorrow.

Alonus (Guardian, Elf, Warrior): It would be entirely accurate to say that Alonus is faithful, but that's mostly because he doesn't ask questions. He's a practical man grounded in practical concerns, he follows doctrines because they're in place and not worth questioning, and he lives as a soldier because he's always been a soldier. Introspection is for those with the need to change things, and Alonus is quite content to follow everything blindly. At least, he was until he died and was brought back. Now he's not really a soldier any longer, and he has to start looking at the world through more critical eyes, something he's never learned to do.

Pranidhi (Defiant, Kelari, Warrior): Among the Kelari, in the darkest days before the Defiants finally created their own Ascended, there were a few who sought the forgiveness of the Vigil and the embrace of the gods. Pranidhi was one of those, a Warrior who sought to undermine the Defiant heresy from within... until she found herself killed and brought back by the Defiants as a new Ascended. That was bad enough on its own, but now she has a few extra bolts in her body because of the damage done to her, and she isn't entirely sure whether she's still the same person... or whether there's even a point to being faithful about anything.

Rielene (Defiant, Kelari, Rogue): Something must have happened to Rielene. She moves like a woman without fear of consequence, handing out sharp words to people known for short tempers, taunting monsters with reckless abandon, and dancing into danger with only the scantest protection. What it was that happened to her isn't entirely clear, but it is a certainty that she was once a Bard, and by her own admission, she loved and was loved in return. But now she's here, alone, and it's a testament to her speed and skill with the blade that she survives her own dangerous antics on a regular basis.

Judging by the effect in the sky, apparently TERA is invading.Events in brief

This week was mostly a matter of getting all the relevant characters in the same place at the same time because it would be a pretty pointless roleplaying exercise otherwise. Alonus and Qinu have still not managed to learn each other's names somehow, mostly due to the fact that Alonus hasn't asked and Qinu hasn't volunteered. But the long and short of it is that both characters are dealing with the early areas and the corresponding time jump.

One part that is a bit frustrating -- and this is particularly relevant because you wind up traveling through time in RIFT -- is that I can't seem to find any good points of reference on how long elves are actually supposed to live in this particular setting. If they're the usual semi-immortals, than 20 years of time is really not much of a gap. If they're closer to human lifespans, that 20 years is significant.

What's working

Starting a bunch of fresh characters has definitely provided some interesting incentive to go down different roads for both me and Ms. Lady. Rielene in particular strikes me as a character who could really benefit from the exercise, as she's got a built-in time limit suggested by her very concept: Either she's going to resolve her issues or she's finally going to pick a fight she's not able to win. She nearly did when she and Pranidhi first met, but Pranidhi wasn't interested in murder so much as confirming that she was actually alive.

Alonus and Qinu, meanwhile, are developing a neat dynamic in the sense that they're clearly at odss with one another. It's quite plausible that because of the nature of the project, they might wind up at odds with one another. In other contexts, they might need to learn to like one another; here, they can be free to dislike one another as it happens.

What's not working

There's one big element that I already suspect isn't going to end up working, but I'll need to wait until I've had more time at the project to be sure. Right now, what's definitely problematic is that Ms. Lady and I are still in the middle of learning the game, both in terms of lore and mechanics. That might not seem like a big deal, but it means that in the middle of learning even basic stuff, we're trying to build a foundation.

There's also not nearly as much spontaneous interplay as I had hoped for. Not that the characters aren't playing against one another nicely, but there's not a huge sense that almost anything can happen at any time. It can, but that's remained a background element.

Oh, and somehow I didn't manage to take a single screenshot through a week of playing. So if you were wondering why everything in here has been stock images, well, there you go.

So far, so good

It's been an interesting first week of trying, and I'm curious to see what happens next as we continue. For now, though, there's nothing more to be said except... well, you know. The comments below, email to eliot@massively.com... it's pretty rote by this point. Next week: more characters, more developments, and possibly some gut-punching.

Every Friday, Eliot Lefebvre fills a column up with excellent advice on investing money, writing award-winning novels, and being elected to public office. Then he removes all of that, and you're left with Storyboard, which focuses on roleplaying in MMOs. It won't help you get elected, but it will help you pretend you did.
This article was originally published on Massively.