She Ain’t Messin’ With No Broke Elves

So, if you’ve followed along with the various rants, lore books and whatnot concerning races and species in Harem Collector, you’ve probably surmised I have a more than passing interesting in evolution and biology. Especially cool weird stuff like cordyceps mushrooms, the ploidy and reproduction of worker ants, and theoretical technically-asexual semi-parasitic clone aliens.

Elves present an interesting challenge, because they’re supposed to be an older, more evolved race. So, I have to hook up some futurist prediction evolution shenanigans. Awesome.

Elves were the first sentient species to form civilization in the world of Harem Collector. When humans, orcs, dwarves and whatnot were still banging stones together to make funny sparks, elves had already discovered advanced magic and formed a world-spanning civilization.

This has to do with the particulars of the Elf genetic code. Because they can live for centuries and only reproduce a handful of times, Elf-genes are particularly prone to mutation and differentiation. This is why, in a handful of generations less than a millennium after the fall of Elven civilization, isolated pockets of Elves have differentiated into the various subspecies- aquatic, high, wood, dark, blood, etc.

This genetic advantage lead to the Elven race to evolve in infrequent leaps rather than at a steady pace. This, combined with the treasure trove of experience held by their long-lived elders, caused the Elves to advance rapidly ahead of other species. But, as stories involving Elves often go, they became victims of their own success.

Eventually, having become masters of their terrestrial domain, Elves began to evolve again to better suit their circumstances. That is, since natural selection was no longer a factor, social constructs began to take the place of the usual evolutionary pressures.

Female elves began to have less and less interest in the aspects of male elves that would help in a natural selection situation- things like physique, prowess, and personalities compatible with caring for young- stopped being the qualifiers for elven attraction. Instead, qualities associated with social advancement- the ability to attain money and political power- took their place. And the same time, male elves stopped seeking things like a healthy physique and healthier sexual appetite as desirable qualities in their mates, and instead looked for other qualities- emotional support, the ability to keep a home, and acceptance and support of the male’s hobbies.

In short, female elves had evolved to become coldly ambitious gold diggers and male elves had evolved to become emotionally needy manchildren. Rampant xenophobia meant that no Elves were mating with other compatible species to help genetically mix things up, either. And this is totally not meant to reflect the social realities of any IRL cultures at all, whatsoever.

You might begin to see the problem here. Certainly, both sides of the Elven species had unreasonably high standards for the other, but that’s only half the problem. Even for Elven couples that did end up together, the desire for actual sex had been bred out of the species. The raw, primitive desire to stuff parts of one partner’s anatomy into the other partner’s anatomy was gone, replaced by a set of calculated social variables.

This lead Elven society to grind to a halt, and eventually fragment and fall apart. Elves now live much as the other races do, but in isolated communities flung far apart from one another. The species, never really numerous, simply began to die out. The isolated pockets of Elfdom straggle on, usually because clan elders force enough Elf couples to bump uglies long enough to produce offspring, much like modern zoo do with pandas. But the Elfs are a species on the way out, a process accelerated by the fact that not many young Elf men have the power and money Elf women have been bred to expect.

If only there was some rich, powerful, and virile young Hero come to pull the Elven species out of this genetic, extinction-bound tail spin. Oh well, only time will tell.

Lore about Slavery

Hello, all. Game development progresses at a steady rate, and I’m knocking down June release goals pretty regularly. Yesterday, for example, I managed to re-jigger the skill list as well as solve the whole “slave collar” issue. You now have to do occasional tasks for the slaver’s guild in order to refresh your supply of slave collars, and can’t progress on certain quests until you have slave collars to spare.

So I thought today I’d discuss part of the lore/fluff of the game, dealing with the legality of slavery. It’s pretty clear to me that sooner or later this will need to be said in-game, because a lot of you are confused as to what role legalized slavery plays in the setting. But until then, you get this lecture.

Slavery is legal in the Middle Kingdom. Obviously, considering that the Slaver’s Guild’s market is a central fixture in one of the towns. The majority of slaves in the Middle Kingdom come from cases of bankruptcy and debt. Middle Kingdom law allows a person to sell themselves or a family member into slavery as a means of cancelling debt. For a person without assets, this might be the only option they have for debt repayment. The Slaver’s Guild has sole right to accept slaves in exchange for debt cancellation this way.

Because of these factors, it’s not unheard of to extort someone into debt, until they must sell a family member (or themselves) into slavery, and then purchasing the resulting slave. This was probably the end goal of the gang that kidnaps Alina and her little brother. Poor Alina gets taken for a slave anyway, though.

It’s also possible to sell yourself into slavery, if you’d genuinely prefer that lifestyle. This is, effectively, what Meline and Florine do.

While the Slaver’s Guild has sole right to take new slaves, they don’t have a monopoly on the slave market. There exist a number of slave merchants who deal in the buying and selling of existing slaves. This is what Alim, the guy you get Doll from, allegedly does for a living- he’s just bad at it, there is money to made there.

The Slaver’s Guild also has the ability to import slaves from other countries. Of course, those other countries have different laws and practices regarding slavery. Kellos, the Middle Kingdom’s military rival to the east, does not allow slaves to be collected because of debt but does use slavery as a punishment for crimes. Kellos slaves therefore tend to have an entirely different skillset, and are more frequently used as slave soldiers and bodyguards than as household servants. Because there is no central government for the lands across the northern mountain range, the Slaver’s Guild conducts raids on nomad villages to forcibly collect slaves. This is what happens to Yamamaya.

Because these different practices result in slaves having very different skillsets, there does exist a global trade in slaves. Middle Kingdom slaves as prized as household servants, and as such are in demand in other countries. The Slaver’s Guild is an international organization with a great deal of power and influence, but it doesn’t have a monopoly on new slaves in every country either, and there do exist rival slave trading organizations.

So, what does this mean in terms of the hero? Well, he’s not necessarily wrong for collecting slaves the way he does. It could be construed that he is an agent of the Slaver’s Guild because he was given slave collars for the express purpose of getting himself some slaves. In that case, several of the slave girls he collects are willing or could be viewed as being collected in the repayment of a debt. The only slaves he acquires illegally are Randi, the item shop girl and Larelle (if he collars her without breaking her first). Now this doesn’t mean he’s a nice guy- in Larelle’s case, he’s guilty of kidnapping even if she accepts the collar eventually.

Anyway, that’s that. Last week ended up being kind of crazy for me, so I never got around to replying to emails and message boards. This week will be different though, and I’ll have lots of time to do that. You see, last week I lost my job. Don’t worry about me, I’m in a pretty good place for it financially and it wasn’t unexpected. This is not a call for more donations, I don’t use those funds for myself anyway, but I said I’d keep you all abreast of any changes in my life that could affect game develop. The upshot is, I’ll actually have a lot more spare time to work on the game than I used to. This could change very soon, depending on a couple of factors, but for now I’m happy to take advantage and get lots of work done on HC.

Talk to you again next week.

Character Inspirations

Good evening, gentlemen. Fortunately for me and unfortunately for you, Nekochan and I were out of town most of the last week. Therefore, not a whole lot of work got done on HC. I’m most of the way done updating the game after changing the item list, with only the dungeons left to do. One of the things I decided to change was to rip out the current shop process in exchange for the built-in traditional-style shop menu. Implementing the multi-buy system was just too much work for too little gain, and as some of you have pointed out it also means you can’t compare your armour against the shop’s offerings. I realized that I was doing extra work for no real purpose other than being stubborn, so I stopped.

Ditto the party train- next version of the game will lack the visible train of characters following you around. I was playing Breath of Fire II the other day and realized that the reason why that game uses a party train is so that you know what puzzle-solving tools you have available. In contrast, Chrono Trigger uses a party train because that game is one of the most gorgeous, visually impressive games ever created and they want to show that off, dammit. HC has neither feature, and I’m kind of sick of the “sprite X walks into party train” bug reports anyway.

I guess those changes make HC a little less unique, but I’ll have more time to work on stuff like dialogue and battle design- stuff immeasurably more important than shopping.

Moving on, this week I thought I’d talk a bit about the inspirations for the various characters in the game. Spoilers ahead!

The Hero: I’ve been pretty transparent about this one. The hero is basically a stand-in for popular H-game hero Rance, who shares a similar moral outlook and goals as the hero. The hero is a little different in that he can be polite and well-mannered if it suits his purposes. In early drafts of the game’s story, I was going to include story sequences to imply that the hero is in fact the child of Rance by Sill that she gets pregnant with at the end of the Isoroku Route in Sengoku Rance, and that the two universes are ultimately shared. Also, it wouldn’t be a very funny joke.

Therese: Therese started out mostly as a bog-standard Lawful Stupid Paladin, mostly to contrast against the hero. Initially, the plan was to have her be a partner to the Hero, who you could either have as a party member you couldn’t touch or you could choose to rape and enslave her but she would refuse to cooperate with you. As the game world developed though, that scenario became impossible due to the magical slave collars, but lives on in spirit with the whole dungeon mechanic. I also had the idea for a cute subplot involving Therese falling for the hero’s charms, giving in to her carnal desires, and believing that the angels revoked her powers, only to find out that the angels did no such thing at all and actually approve of her helping the hero for some reason.

Meline: I’ve gone into Meline’s development is detail before, so I won’t repeat myself. Her class, Invoker, in based of the 4e D&D class of the same name, mostly because I already had an idea in mind for a cleric-type character and wanted Meline’s power gain to be a literal deus ex machina.

Lilac and Violet: You’d think that “maids who are also identical twins” wouldn’t have involved a lot of development, but it did. One maid didn’t feel like enough to care for the entire manor, and I couldn’t think of any other logical reason for a pair of maid slaves to be sold as a set. Then, the maids were a set of sisters (twins and an older one) based entirely off of the Crescent Sisters from the maid collecting card game Tanto Cuore, until I dropped the third maid because three sprites made that little pen in the slave market look awfully crowded. Lilac and Violet being named after shades of purple is the remaining nod to the Crescent sisters (who are named Azure, Viola and Rouge).

Alina: Alina was always meant to be sort of a girl-next-door type in looks with a tsundere attitude (because tsundere is both really cute and easy as hell to write). Her skill set and general reaction to being enslaved is based off of a Saiyonara Zetsubou-Sensei doujin I read once where Zetsubou-sensei makes his entire class a harem and Chiri-chan decides that if that’s going to happen, she’ll be “head girl” and make sure everything “gets done right”. Unfortunately I don’t know the title of that doujin because it was in Japanese so my English-speaking brain kind of just glossed over it.

Elaiya: She was actually originally supposed to be a bow-quipped ranger, but I eventually changed her to a gun-equipped bounty hunter because I didn’t want people to expect her to have nature powers. She’s almost like a refugee from an entirely different game- her subplot is mostly serious and involves her trying to find the man who killed her husband. Her husband was an adventurer, and the only member of his party who didn’t turn bad over time. Godfrey was one of the party members, but Elaiya was just a waitress, but when her husband died she picked up his guns for revenge. She’s based a little off of a Scion character I played once, who was a daughter of Isis who became a vigilante in order to find the man who killed her husband and cut him into thirteen pieces.

…Yeah, very occasionally I play female characters in tabletop role-playing games.

Larelle: Not a lot really interesting here, but she’s loosely based on Celes from the mystery game Dangan Ronpa. It comes out more in her visual style than anything.

Doll: Doll’s low self esteem comes from one of my perverse little fetishes, where it kind of turns me on to hear girls put themselves down and want to be treated as objects. Her side plot is heavily influenced by the anime Trigun.

Yamamaya: Her opening animation (where she beats up the slavers) is inspired by the teahouse fight in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Her character is kind of based on Chie from Persona 4 (being a tough female character who likes being complimented for femininity). In her tribe, a warrior can have as many wives (or husbands) as that warrior can justify with their strength in battle, and the submissive wives/husbands in this case find pride in being chosen by capable warriors who have large harems already. This was determined entirely by my desire to have a character that was not only happy to a part of the hero’s harem, but had an active interest in helping him acquire more slaves. Oh, and she’s named after Sakaki’s cat in Azumanga Daioh.

Randi: Randi is named after the woman from World’s Worst Tenants, solely because that was what Nekochan was watching when I needed to name her. A pretty sharp contrast to Cypress_Z’s naming scheme, right? Her habit of leaving erotic novels lying around everywhere is based on a roommate I had in college.

Well, I think that’s it for now. It’s more than enough, I suppose. I’m going to take some time this week to catch up on emails and forum threads and such,  so if you haven’t heard from me lately, I’ll be getting to you. Also, something is happening this week in my personal life that might give me a lot more time to work on game. I’ll let you know how it goes as the situation develops.