Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hyrule Historia

It is apparently Zelda week here at the Pack of Gnolls. This post outlines a bit more of my design philosophy for Hyrulian Adventures. Later today I will post the promised Character Generation guidelines.

The Legend of Zelda video game series has continued on for more than 25 years. Personally, I've played most of the games, but have only actually conquered two: Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. When you get down to it, I'm just not all that great at video games. 

One thing about the Legend of Zelda series that I personally find simultaneously interesting and inane, is the long-term debate over the Zelda Timeline(s). If you thought D&D edition wars were bad, check out the debates that rage every time a new Zelda game is released and throws the various timeline theories into chaos with new information. 

In December 2011, Nintendo released a book called the Hyrule Historia, which purports to be an "official" timeline of the video game series. It was only published in Japanese, so I'm relying on this Zelda wiki article

to get the gist of it all. While there are a couple of inconsistencies, overall it makes sense, I suppose. As the publisher's "official" word on the subject, I guess we have to accept it, but I personally think it's a load of bull. Nintendo has consistently pursued gameplay first in game development, and handled storyline after the fact. Certainly, some titles reference events in other games, and some are obviously direct sequels to what came before. There was never a grand design for a timeline for the games. I wouldn't be surprised when the debate is renewed again after the next game is published, and numerous details throw the entire thing once again into question (unless of course they include, in the instruction manual, exactly when amongst all titles and branching timelines this next game falls). 

Personally, I prefer to think of the games as "but one of the legends of which people speak", as stated at the beginning of The Wind Waker. This is my design philosophy as I develop my Microlite-based Legend of Zelda RPG. 

Each individual Zelda game is but a different version of the Triforce story: evil Ganon seeks the power of the Triforce, and the Hero, Link, must undertake an adventure to defeat Ganon and save Hyrule. In this table-top game, the Hero of Legend is defeated and it is up to the people of Hyrule (the PCs) to stop Ganon. 

I will be drawing inspiration from many of the different video game titles as I develop my Hyrule for my players to explore. This rendition does not fall into any place within the canonical timelines. It is Hyrule, it is plagued by evil, and it must be saved. 

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