Video Game: The Logomancer
is a Role-Playing Game
by Jeffery Nordin made in RPG Maker VX Ace, and was rpgmaker.net's featured game of July 2014. Its premise is that of a "JRPG without killing": the player engages in turn-based battles with foes just like in any RPG, but the battles are rhetorical rather than physical. A Boss Battle
may just be an attempt to convince a store owner to give you a discount, for instance.
In the world of The Logomancer
, everyone is connected to a communal dreamworld known as the Mindscape. During sleep, everyone interacts together inside this strange mental world. As a realm based in thought, everyone can mold and shape aspects of the Mindscape to an extent, but only a rare few can create permanent, elaborate dreamworlds for others to participate in. These talented individuals are known as logomancers
and his apprentice John Marrow
are negotiators for Powell-Mercer, a company that specializes in dream commodities and thus takes a special interest in logomancers. They are dispatched to the seaside city of Ordolus to finalize a contract with the recently discovered logomancer Glenton Dahl, and are soon joined by Mindscape and logomancy researcher Cynthia Hadrospec
. The heroes also have the opportunity to assist the residents of the city
with their own problems
as well. In the process, the three discover new insights into the nature of logomancy and the Mindscape, eventually becoming embroiled in a matter far darker than a mere contract negotiation if they dig deep enough.The Logomancer
is notable for its use of near-100% custom art assets, as well as its gameplay concept. Though technically little more than a regular Eastern RPG
with a different coat of paint, the idea is fairly original and provides for a different experience than in most RPGs. Download it here.
Examples of tropes present in The Logomancer:
- Absolute Cleavage: Eventide.
- Absurdly High Level Cap: Averted. The level cap is a fairly low 30, and players are practically guaranteed to at least approach it if they do all the sidequests.
- Abusive Parents: ...Possibly. Nikolai's Mindscape implies this, but in the tape recording, his father is distraught by his death and seems very concerned for him.
- Armor Piercing: Ancestral Seed.
- Author Avatar: Ardarius in Ardus' novel was originally conceived as this.
- Auto-Revive: Reinvention.
- Barrier Change Boss: Narrowden is a clever example — his current weakness is telegraphed through his color, but as his area is Deliberately Monochrome, you have to guess every time he switches. Unless, of course, you've found the well-hidden prismatic claw that restores color to the area, in which case he's a cakewalk.
- Battle Theme Music: "Rhetorical Battle" for regular battles and "War of Words" for Boss Battles. The Final Boss and the ultimate Bonus Boss share a special one.
- Averted with Nicolai's Regret and the Watcher of the Abyss, who simply use the unsettling background music from the "Haunting Memories" quest area.
- Bleak Level: The "Haunting Memories" quest and the corrupted plantation.
- Bonus Boss: Technically everything except Narrowden, but in the particular definition of "optional difficult challenge", the Final Horizon, Eve Angelus, and the Composer all count. Arguably the Watcher of the Abyss does as well.
- Book Ends: Exhibited by the normal ending, where Ardus visits the exact same Mindscape location as in the beginning of the game.
- Boss Banter: Malebaldur, Eve Angelus, and The Composer all do this.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: The Final Horizon appears to be a completely normal enemy wandering a completely normal area, but it's a very powerful Bonus Boss. In fairness, the boss battle music does play during the fight, though, which should be a tipoff.
- Paper Dragons may be a straighter example. It's possible to encounter them pretty early, and if you don't have a way of reducing enemy persuasion they will swiftly destroy you.
- The Watcher in the Abyss is a Bonus Boss in mook clothing, occasionally overriding regular monster fights to fight you once you've kicked off the appropriate plotline.
- Bragging Rights Reward: The Composer's lesson, which gives you access to every skill in the game (even enemy skills), making all future encounters trivial. You can only get it after beating the ultimate Bonus Boss, however.
- Breast Plate: Eve Angelus' battle armor. Lampshaded by John, who points out it's not terribly practical; Eve counters that she doesn't actually plan to fight in it, she just likes the look.
- Butt Monkey: John.
- Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Everything, due to the setup. Defense is "confidence", Hit Points are "willpower", special attack is "elocution", and so on. This extends to skills and other gameplay elements as well, which are all named based on rhetorical techniques and terminology.
- Averted with special defense, which is "resistance" — although the term can probably interpreted as conveying a different meaning here.
- Averted with some skills, such as Spear of Longingus, which are pretty clearly physical attacks.
- Sadly averted with EP Drain and EP Nullify.
- Character Portrait: Of the full upper body variant. Glenton is the only character with multiple ones.
- Chekhov's Gag: When telling Ardus to make grammatical corrections to his novel, Sindarin warns that semicolons are particularly vicious. As you explore the novel yourself, you'll quickly realize he wasn't speaking figuratively, as semicolons are among the most dangerous enemies in the area.
- Chest Monster: A few.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Ardus, if you make him do all the Sidequests.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Everything relating to the rhetorical elements; logos is green, ethos is blue, and pathos is red. (Interesting setup, that.) In addition, verbal is purple and gnostic is yellow.
- Contractual Boss Immunity: Almost entirely averted; only a few Puzzle Bosses are immune to status effects that would make them too easy. However, all bosses do heavily resist gnostic damage, for obvious reasons.
- Eve Angelus is an interesting example. She's not explicitly immune to offensive debuffs, but if you use them she'll instantly counter with the appropriate buff, dispelling the debuff.
- Notably, the Composer's satellite is not immune to self-loathing. The Composer is quite miffed by this if you inflict it.
- Cosmetic Award: Subverted. The Horizon Mastery and Rhetorical Master items seem like they're merely awards for beating the Bonus Bosses, but they actually unlock the way to the third Bonus Boss.
- Lampshaded when Eve Angelus gives you the Rhetorical Mastery trophy; she admits it's just some random junk she found, and its value is purely symbolic.
- Counter Attack: Rebuttals. If they trigger, that character gets to avoid damage from the attack entirely in addition to counter-attacking.
- Damage-Increasing Debuff: Treatise is a general one, Sensitivity increases damage taken from verbal attacks specifically. The rhetorical states arguably count as well, since while they grant resistance to certain elements, their main purpose is to generate a weakness.
- The "perfect" states are also this, giving enemies a tenfold rhetorical weakness without any of the associated resistances.
- Damage Over Time: Apathy is a pretty extreme example, inflicting a fifth of victim's health in damage every round and remaining permanently until cured. Interestingly, not all bosses have Contractual Boss Immunity against it, making it something of a Game Breaker.
- Deadpan Snarker: Ardus.
- Death by Irony: In Ardus' novel, The Hero Ardarius is killed by his Love Interest, the very object of affection he had put on a pedestal and set out to rescue, because he refuses to see past that image. John is quick to point out how Hilarious in Hindsight this is when considering what Ardus discloses about the characters.
- The Developer Thinks of Everything: Pretty much. The steps of many quests can be done out of "normal" order, such as solving a problem before finding the quest giver, but everything will work out fine and you'll just get some Easter Egg dialogue for your trouble.
- Doomed by Canon: Conversed when the characters discus a potential prequel to Ardus' novel; John points out that any significant divergences or surprises would instantly be suspicious because of this trope.
- Dream Land: The Mindscape is a communal dreamworld entered by falling asleep.
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Logical people are easily riled by passionate arguments; emotional people are susceptible to arguments based in expertise and authority (also known as ethos), and ethos-minded individuals are best persuaded by logical arguments. The color coding for that is reminiscent of something...
- Enemy Scan: Cythia's "investigate" command.
- Field Power Effect: The Final Boss and the Watcher of the Abyss can do this.
- Freudian Trio: Averted despite the main characters specializing in rhetorical styles that seem to reflect this dynamic. Cynthia occasionally has shades of The Spock, but in general, the characters exhibit traits of all three archetypes depending on the situation.
- Game Over: Mostly averted; losing a battle will only increase regret (and wake the party up if they're in the Mindscape). There is a game over screen, however — it appears to be a failsafe for the possibility of players reducing everyone's willpower to 0 through the eyes of greed/despair.
- Golden Ending
- Gradual Regeneration: Proofread regenerates willpower, Amemnesis regenerates erudition.
- The Greatest Story Never Told: Subverted. No one can consciously remember what happened, but Ardus retained enough subconscious details to reconstruct the story in his next novel.
- Guile Hero: Ardus.
- Hero Antagonist: Malebaldur in Ardus' novel.
- HP to One: Thanatos Instinct is a particularly nasty example; it reduces your Mana to one as well.
- Infant Immortality: Gently averted. Nikolai dies at the age of 10, but we aren't given any details about his death.
- Infinity+1 Element: Two, actually; abyssal and Caranthian. Their main advantage is that they can't be resisted by perspicacity or avoided through rebuttals. They are also used exclusively by enemies.
- In Medias Res
- Though exhibited by the game itself, this is also Conversed by John and Sindarin, who claim that Ardus' novel would be stronger if it started this way.
- Insane Troll Logic: The description for the Modus Tollens skill: "If the enemy were eloquent, they would win [the debate]. They won't win, therefore they're not eloquent." And it works.
- Invincibility Power-Up: Empty Mind, which makes an ally immune to all damage for one round.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: Lampshaded by John if you get Harlon's map or Udumo's journal before talking to them.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: People can never retain conscious memories of meeting with the Composer, only subconscious impressions.
- Last Disc Magic: Flawless Deduction, Onus Probandi, and Null Hypothesis are the ultimate logos, pathos, and ethos skills, respectively. They're among the last skills your characters learn and are immensely powerful, inflicting a special Damage-Increasing Debuff that magnifies an elemental weakness tenfold.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: All the discussions of Ardus' novel are very obviously commentary on writing concepts in general, and quite possibly the writing of this game in specific.
- Glenton's speech about the use of logomancer realms as interactive, educational experiences is also clearly a reference to the video game medium itself.
- The Composer also asserts that explaining instructions is important because, even if Ardus won't remember it, it gets the information out there, allowing it to be known by what needs to know it. This could be a nod to player direction and agency, as the player can remember the Composer's instructions fine even if Ardus can't.
- Life Drain: Exhaustion.
- Lighthearted Rematch: Eve Angelus, a rematch against Eventide.
- Living Memory: Abyssal creatures are powerful regrets and painful memories given physical form in the Mindscape.
- Lost Forever: Averted in terms of items, but certain scenes that are dependent on performing a quest in a certain order are obviously mutually exclusive on a single playthrough.
- Love Interest: According to Ardus, Sylvanne was originally based on his ideal love interest, but evolved into something different as he developed her character.
- Magikarp Power: Downplayed with Cynthia, who has some skills that grow in power the more she's researched an enemy. Research levels are preserved through battles, so she may be ineffective at the start of an area but become very powerful once the enemies are fully researched.
- In addition, her Standard Deviation ability becomes slightly more powerful every time she uses it, allowing her to become devastatingly strong if the player takes the time to power it up.
- Mana Burn: EP Nullify.
- Mana Drain: EP Drain and Flirtatious Smirk.
- Marathon Boss: The Final Horizon has one million Hit Points. This is referenced in its description, which notes that it's immensely stubborn and difficult to convince of anything.
- Meaningful Echo: After defeating the True Final Boss, Ardus quotes the final lines of his novel.
- Minus World: The Plantation, the subject of the contract negotiations, has a glitch area that's related to the deeper plot of the game.
- Mysterious Informant: The Composer.
- Non-Elemental: Subverted; verbal damage is close, as it's set apart from everything else in the official Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors chart, but enemies can still resist it and it can be affected by other influences.
- Abyssal damage plays this straight.
- Noodle Incident:
- Glenton has great respect for Cynthia because she helped him through a difficult event in his past, though it's never explained what that event was.
- In a corridor where Ardus and Cynthia see images of themselves in the walls, John appears to see someone other than himself, but he never says who it is, leaving the mystery unexplained.
- No Sell:
- Contractions will choose to ignore either verbal or rhetorical damage at the start of battle.
- Malebaldur will become immune to another source of damage every time you reduce his willpower to 0, until he becomes totally invulnerable in his final stage.
- Eve Angelus has a similar schtick where she'll decide to flat-out ignore certain rhetorical elements when she gets low on health. She never becomes immune to verbal damage, though, unlike Malebaldur.
- Number of the Beast: Nikolai's Regret has 6666 willpower points.
- One-Hit Kill: Dissertation.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: Horror in the "Haunting Memories" quest.
- Percent Damage Attack: Gnostic damage.
- Plucky Comic Relief: John.
- Point Build System: Inspiration points, though they coexist with regular Character Levels.
- Point of No Return: Downplayed in that it's more a point of delayed return, but once you pass a certain point in the "Haunting Memories" quest (jumping down the hole into the Abyss), you're stuck there until you clear the area.
- Posthumous Character: Nikolai.
- Preexisting Encounters
- Prequel: Conversed during some discussions of Ardus' novel; the characters all seem to agree that prequels are boring because no one wants to read a story where they already know how it will end, and Doomed by Canon is a big pitfall.
- Equipping the last will and testament of Decimus Zastari greatly increases willpower.
- Your characters can learn to use the "Incredible Pun" attack. It literally kills your enemies. Literally.
- John can use the "Sarchasm" attack to...make a chasm.
- Rainbow Speak: Everything relating to the elements is colored the appropriate color in dialogue and system messages. (Every time the word "logos" or "reasonable" is used, for instance, it is colored green.)
- Rare Candy: There's one for every stat, as well as "epiphanies" that give you inspiration points to allocate as you please. There are also items that provide Experience Points and AP.
- Books might count — the vast majority of them just provide stat bonuses that become permanent after enough battles.
- Reality Warper: Logomancers are this inside the Mindscape.
- Reduced Mana Cost: This is a stat that can be increased one percent at a time through inspiration points.
- Required Party Member: Cynthia for the Forgotten Plantation and the "Haunting Memories" quest. It's possible to complete most of the game without ever picking her up, however.
- Retraux: The Winthgraden Tower area has graphics and music reminiscent of the 8-bit era.
- Rule of Cool: Eve Angelus' battle armor is rather impractical and serves no purpose, but looks really cool. Characters point this out, and she counters that she doesn't plan to fight in it, she just wants to look awesome for the duration of their debate.
- Running Gag: Ardus always says the same line ("Could you be more clear and less cryptic? Obfuscating the truth never helps anyone.") every time he meets the Composer. Due to Laser-Guided Amnesia, he isn't aware of the repetition, but the Composer generates increasingly exasperated responses.
- Save the Princess: Conversed. Ardus' novel is a deconstruction of the idea, as he pondered why a princess would just be passively waiting to be saved and why a hero would want to save her. Eventually he decided to create a princess who ran away under her own power, making the hero misguided in trying to rescue the object he placed on a pedestal.
- Science Hero: Cynthia, a researcher aiming to catalogue and better understand the phenomena of the Mindscape.
- Sequential Boss: Malebaldur. He has relatively low health, but after defeating him, he'll revive himself, provide a witty quip, and become immune to a certain type of damage.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Everywhere. Expect five-dollar words to be frequently used by both the characters and the game itself.
- Shout-Out: Possibly; it's not an exact reference, but there's a skill called "Doublespeak".
- Show Within a Show: Ardus' novel.
- Sidequest: They make up most of the game; the only required quest is the Forgotten Plantation.
- If you want to get the Golden Ending, however, the only truly optional sidequest is Eventide's.
- Skippable Boss: The Eistancian Soldier won't fight you if you don't pick up any symbols of avarice.
- Squishy Wizard:
- John, who has high erudition but low willpower.
- Cynthia may also fit this; while not very fragile, she has the highest elocution (magic attack) stat and no regular/free attack, meaning she can only attack with abilities.
- Standard Status Effects: They're under different names of course, but they're there. Poison is "apathy", paralysis is "distraction", confusion is "self-loathing", and silence is...silence. There are the standard stat buffs/debuffs as well.
- Status Buff Dispel:
- Inflicting a stat debuff will do this automatically, removing the corresponding buff if it's active.
- Clear Mind removes rhetorical states from the party. Rhetorical states are more often negative than positive, however, so this actually tends to work to your advantage.
- Tabula Rasa removes all status effects, positive or negative, though it's most often used by enemies to remove debuffs.
- Stripperiffic: Eventide. Judging by her dialogue in the Eve Angelus battle, however, it's a personal choice of hers.
- Inverted with Cynthia, who wears an extremely modest outfit.
- Talking the Monster to Death: The game's premise is that all combat is like this. Many of them (especially in the Mindscape) still feel like normal battles though...
- There is actually one point where this is done literally, and the "a JRPG without killing" tagline is proven wrong: Stanislav Anarkum's Malformed Thought, the Final Boss. Winning the battle involves convincing it to kill itself.
- Title Drop: At the very end of the Golden Ending, Ardus states that the working title of his new novel is "The Logomancer". Given that his new novel is a Plot Parallel to the game itself, this is fitting.
- True Final Boss: The Malformed Thought. It's also the only Final Boss, and can be encountered only by pursuing the Golden Ending route.
- Turns Red: Some bosses will become stronger at low health.
- Eve Angelus will inflict the whole party with every stat debuff when she falls below half health, and will start ignoring certain types of damage when she's on her last legs.
- The Composer will change his tactics when he falls below half health, using telegraphed Last Disc Magic abilities and asking you math questions that can help or harm you depending on how well you perform.
- Useless Useful Spell: Dissertation. By the time you get it you have better (and less costly) methods of oneshotting foes, and it seems to have a random chance of failure anyway. And bosses are immune to it, of course. Works fine on The Watcher Of The Abyss, though.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: At the end of "Edited For Content", Ardus reveals that the ideal Love Interest he created for his novel looks and acts exactly like Cynthia, even though he wrote the manuscript long before he met her. Everyone is quick to point out how weird this is, but it never comes up again.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Stanislav Anarkum succeeded in separating his mind from his body, giving him eternal life within the Mindscape, but the time and isolation eventually drove him insane.
- Wrap Around: The Aspect of Confusion, fittingly.