I went on a walk today and invented an idea for an RPG. When I say “invented”, I’m partly concerned someone else has thought of it and my subconscious has presented memory as inspiration. Anyway, it’s not an idea I have any time to pursue, so feel free to run with it yourself.
So the idea is “Fractal RPG”. At the start of the game you’re given your start point (kid in a village) and your end point (you’ve just slain the Arch Demon of Hate or something). The game is about filling in the middle. Given any defined points in the story, you create a point in the middle of them and have an adventure at that level. You get important loot, find an ally and maybe determine some of the story. The whole game is chronologically consistent, so if you play a later adventure where you needed the Sweet Sword of Skillfulness, you have to go and do the appropriate quest earlier on to get it.
In a way this could make it both an RPG locally and some sort of strategic puzzle game globally. The story isn’t over if you have dangling or inconsistent plot points. So you might be halfway through an adventure, realize you needed something, then jump out to the timeline, do another adventure where you grab that item, then go back where you were and complete that adventure. Maybe you can replay an adventure to choose a different path, which may violate later story points, so you have to unravel them too.
Once you fractally fill in all the required story, the game publishes your story for your friends to see. What’s neat is that this is all the meat and bones of an RPG, without the usual flab of RPG grind. The area between points in the story can be considered the “grind”.
It’d be a bizarre game to write. Your dialogue would intentionally have to be of the worst kind of exposition – “But Fred, you’ve just come from the Caverns of Doom and defeated the Skull Lord there, you can’t expect us to go back!” – but it’d be almost required. You might get some mileage out of intentionally making the some of the most egregious mistakes for an RPG (expository dialogue, fill-in-the-blanks quests), but all in service of the fractal storyline. It’d also be a good way to take the “make important choices” selling point of an RPG, and dial it up to 11.
I’d love to see a game like this. Someone make it!