Spellbound: Taking inspiration from fantasy
One of the games I keep noticing pop up on the homepage occasionally is Spellbound, a fantasy game created last November, and had a very popular time over December and January. Spellbound has a good compliment of character,s each with a consistent Japanese anime style image. The game’s pace unfortunately slowed over February- March but made a comeback in April and has been on the homepage (or not far away) ever since.
I spoke to the creator of the game Phantasmagoria and asked him about Spellbound.
Have you played play-by-post games before?
I regularly play a few play-by-post games on-line – we usually use special forums such as Myth Weavers to play. Since they are designed to play games this way, and contain a load of features that make a game easy to manage and play for both the game master and the players themselves. Most of the games I play I usually tend to be the game master. I like having that ability to create a world. It’s where my user name comes from. Phantasmagoria could be described as a magical illusion of changing imagery, and considering with each new play-by-post game is a different world and changing story, I think this suits rather well!
Where does Spellbound take inspiration from?
Spellbound is a funny one, a take a lot of ideas from several fantasy books. The main two you’ll see within the game are usually a combination of Hogwarts and Discworld. But that is how far it goes in terms of idea and concepts. From that basic concept, I like to take other ideas from other books, games or any kind of mytholoogy and try to implement them into the game in some way. For example, all the characters in the game have been given the opportunity to create a companion summon creature. My character Skye’s summon is a golden cloud called a Nimbus. The mythology behind this is the cloud that usually surrounds a god, especially in Greek mythology. But I took Dragonball’s take on it, and made it a form of transportation that only one of pure heart may ride. Others would simply fall through!
I am always finding new pieces of inspiration, and it helps to find new ways to expand upon the world of Spellbound, and it gives me many possible exciting adventures for players to undertake.
Do new members have to be familiar with the books you reference?
Not at all! I believe the books simply serves as a catalyst for ideas to emerge for players. I know learning to roleplay for the first time can be tough and sometimes a little embarrassing. Having a starting point helps loads I find. But it doesn’t have to be a fantasy source or even related to magic at all to get into a game. Any character from any source can be inspiration. Once you have that initial idea, there’s no stopping you turning it into a character for the game world and making it yours!
What is it you think that makes your story different from other fantasy stories and have you managed to avoid the cliches?
Ever since I stumbled into the world of play-by-post. I’ve always been a fan of fantasy, second only to zombies! What is great about roleplaying game is the other players. Of course, I’m not them. And it’s that difference in ideas and character progression and story that really makes a game unique. Like…personally, I am awful at writing romance between characters. I’ve tried it once before and it gets awkward to read very fast! However, one of my member’s characters at the moment in Spellbound throughout in her writing I’ve noticed is very good at it. Her relationships with the other characters within the game really have made me very engaged in her character’s personal story.
One personal aspect I’ve been trying to avoid with everything I’ve got is that it is very easy to fall into a Good vs Evil scenario, particularly with the fantasy genre. Absolutes in my opinion are a bit on the dull side. Morally grey is much more interesting to read and write. I’m lucky to have some talented players in Spellbound, so I know when the story reaches that point, I know they will flourish in their stride.
You currently have 6 other members. How difficult was it to find and get new members to join your game?
To be fair, it was slow to start off with but I definitely have my current players to thank for how it’s turned out. The quality of their writing is our advert for the game, just as much as the theme of the story. Without them, I wouldn’t have nearly as much fun as I do playing Spellbound now! The usual thing I hear a lot with play-by-post is players are unsure where to start, or simply nervous about what they write won’t be any good.
My message to anyone who thinks like that is that there is nothing to fear. Everyone I’ve ever known has been friendly and supportive every step of the way. Never feel pressured into thinking that you have to write huge stories at a time, and three times a day. Believe me, even the best of us can’t do that! I recommend Spellbound for anyone regardless of skill or experience. Come and have a go, I’ll be here!