While Chaos Reborn
obviously neither is, nor aims to be a full-fledged, complex RPG experience, I think its interface lends well enough to a stronger emphasis on narration in Realms mode. A game that came to mind is the 1992 Microprose monstrosity Darklands
, which - similar to Chaos Reborn
- delivers a very streamlined presentation that is split up into an abstract overworld map, a combat screen, and purely text-based narration in the vein of a choose-your-own-adventure book. While Darklands
is a stat-heavy and very complex sandbox RPG, the storytelling over text pages with multiple choice-interaction is on the surface very much just a more elaborate version of how Chaos Reborn
handles its encounters. Add on top the time-based progression in both games that enforces player agency and urgency (with the difference that in Chaos Reborn
you have an ultimate goal, whereas Darklands
is more of a "life simulator" that ends only with the - hopefully - natural death of your character), and I feel like a few tweaks to the Realm creation process could potentially open up the game to a world of depth, without demanding much of a change to the basic gameplay mechanics.
Allowing Realm creators to:
- chain together events for entire quest lines
- have time-based events that show up and/or vanish after a specific amount of days passed in a realm
- make events appear based on player reputation or law/chaos kudos, and also
- allow those values to somewhat influence the outcome of a choice-based encounter, thus giving them more gravitas beyond just the recruiting mechanic
- make mercenaries actual individuals that can have different stats from standard summons, and may be potentially further involved in world events, so that keeping them alive in battle is actually viable
- assign specific score bonuses (or subtractions) to events, so that there are more ways to score in a Realm than just engaging in combat with Wizard Lords/Kings.
- add further winning or game-ending conditions that go beyond "defeat Wizard King and begone"
- grant titles onto players based on said conditions, to reward different approaches to a realm
...would go a long way to ensure Realms could be immensely varied, depending on what their creator has in mind. More thoughts to come.
As for how to realise that whole endeavour in a user-friendly way, I suggest giving creators a Twine-like flowchart to work with, so they can map out and connect events without losing track.
For reference, here a quick summary of what Darklands is like