One of the story beats I wanted to work with in this game was the stereotypical role of parents in RPGs (and in most other works of fiction, too.) In order for the hero to embark on the journey of a lifetime, most stories make sure that they won’t be missed when they leave – and they won’t have any inconvenient thoughts of returning. Some sort of catastrophe always robs the hero of anything to rely on; their family is killed or kidnapped, their place of birth is destroyed, or they are prevented from returning home through forces beyond their control…
…that is, if they ever had any family or hometown to begin with. Many stories sidestep this by having older main characters that have long since given up the pretense of living in the shadow of someone else. Parents almost never get the chance to involve themselves in the hero’s journey – they disappear in chapter one, and become useless to the hours of gameplay that follow.
By contrast, Kacey’s parents may not be the focus of her quest, but they are never far behind. As she grows and changes through the events of the story, they respond and adapt to her situation as real parents would. Their relationship with their daughter stands in direct contrast to the relationships and experiences that other characters have, and serves to create one of many story themes that develop along with the plot. This elevates them from being the necessary functions of a plot, to strong, interesting characters that deserve to stand alongside her.
I wanted players to care as much about Mom and Dad’s journey as they do about Kacey’s, even if it is appreciably less central and dramatic! While Kacey is too strong-willed to rely on her parents for most things, it is always clear to her and to players that she is loved. Her fearlessness came from somewhere, and it’s not just the hallmark of someone who has seen tragedy. It’s also the hallmark of someone who knows they have a safe place to fall back to when things get bad.
Too often in fiction, parents are important only until they aren’t, anymore. It’s an unfortunate (and I would argue, unnecessary) trope, and I hope that this little game manages to challenge the assumption up front. Characters don’t have to be alone in the world to find their journey at the doorstep.