09 April 2015

throwback thursday - elegia eternum

Kit here, doing a retro gaming post for once.

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, and retro gaming, I want to talk about a game that has been with me since (roughly) 2002-2003 when I first discovered it.

It was a module for Neverwinter Nights, created by Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne, called Elegia Eternum. This is its official description:

It started out as such a simple quest... there you were, a bold adventurer, seeking a magic staff. There was an inn on the edge of nowhere, with a group of friendly locals willing to help... and then matters got more and more complicated, more horrific. A maze of sorrow and despair unfolded before your very eyes, enveloping all... a maze that sang a song of lamentation for those who have passed away. An elegy. 
(You can see more information, and get the module if you have Neverwinter Nights, here.)

Elegia Eternum used the tileset from Neverwinter Nights to turn a high fantasy setting into a setting of psychological horror; investigating the causes of the sorrow and despair around you, and making decisions that carried emotional weight. The music also stands out: I remember an incident playing it once where I had to go away from my keyboard, and the person I was playing it with (there is local co-op play available) had to listen to soft wails for minutes on end, alone there in the dark, embers flying amidst broken wooden boards and despair reaching out to pull them under.

While Elegia is a short module - I've gone through it in an hour and a half - it does have a sequel called Excrucio Eternum, which delves heavily into more of the psychological side of horror and examines fears like isolation, speech (and not being able to be coherent), sexual violations and objectification, and the fear of death. Excrucio also examines the possibilities of change;  the player character can overcome their own past and their own horrors, and become a healer instead of a destroyer. I used to play these games to help me face and battle my own fears and insecurities, and to help people understand a bit about trauma: this was before interactive games like Depression Quest or dys4ia appeared, and so it was the best tool I had at the time. Fantasy is good like that: in fantastical tales, we realize that even though there might be dragons, we can defend and do battle against them, or come to understand their pain.

These modules - games in their own right - heavily influenced our game of Die Nachtblume, and will particularly influence Chapter 2. It also influenced Crossroads, which is a Twine game you can play at my own personal site (donations encouraged).

If you have time, go and get Neverwinter Nights if only to play these modules for it.

And face your own fears.

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