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Easing into the Adventure

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Heroes come in all shapes and sizes; there are those who Jump at the Call, those who Refuse the Call, and those who Missed the Call. Whether reluctant or adventurous, stories with these heroes can start Easing into the Adventure by introducing the hero well before they get their wooden sword and very first Fetch Quest in their peaceful hometown; with a young Bob doing chores, playing with friends, having a heart-to-heart promise with Alice, fighting and losing to the Jerk Jock who teases them. The usual.

This helps us see the hero "before" and better appreciate Character Development, provide exposition, and generally build up slowly rather than quickly to the story's actions. In video games, it can Justify the Tutorial. It also makes their motivations for adventuring, returning home, and fear of losing (or pain at having lost) their hometown all the more poignant.

It does raise the danger of losing fans who would like the actual story and attracting (briefly) fans who will not, because the opening is not indicative of the story.

Notably, if the peaceful hometown survives the hero's Call, there will be a Jerk Jock that the hero will return to face and handily beat, as well as a girl he wanted to woo who he now either marries, or spurns in favor of the girl he met on the voyage.

This is so common in RPGs, be they Western or Eastern, that they might as well patent it — the "faffing about" part makes for great tutorial material.

While we've seen it frequently already, it's still a classic.

See also Good Morning, Crono. Contrast In Medias Res.


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    Fan Works 
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail spends most of its first chapter detailing all of Chloe Cerise's struggles at school and at her father's lab, along with how she's resenting Ash, Goh and her father for how they love Pokémon while she doesn't, before she finally snaps, call them out for being ignorant of her and then runs away to be sucked onto the Infinity Train.
  • Infinity Train: Star Finder: The prologue basically serves to show what Stella likes to do in the city of Royal Woods: going to Gus Games & Grub to play on the arcade machines before returning home. However, she ended up befriending a girl called Cynthia who introduces her to Jordan, and the Loud Family arrives at the arcade. The last straw is when Stella is knocked unconscious by Lori and decides to go home after she wakes up, making the titular train appear to her.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Happened in Stardust with Tristan in the town of Wall.
  • Happens in Willow, with Our Hero very reluctantly answering the call.
  • Alien opens with the heroes awaking from hypersleep, making coffee, tending to the cat and so forth. Eventually, of course, it goes horribly, horribly awry.
  • Die Hard opens with John McClane flying note  into LA for Christmas and to see his estranged family. The first half hour is dedicated to this, setting up exactly what a New York cop is doing attending this particular Christmas party across the country, before the terrorists attack.
  • In Star Wars: A New Hope, while the first scenes after the opening crawl are of stormtroopers and Darth Vader storming the Tantive IV, taking Leia prisoner, the droids jettisoning and wandering and being caught by Jawas, Luke's first scenes are of him complaining, then shutting up and obediently doing his chores, being kind to the droids and seeing the hologram of Leia, establishing his desire to go to the Academy but only when his uncle allows it, and staring at the binary sunset while beautiful music swells. Only then does he get the Call and go in search of the runaway R2 and also Old Ben. Deleted but apparently still-canon scenes set during the Tantive IV events show him trying to show his friends at Tosche Station the space battle and being mocked, and meeting an old friend who'd gone to the Academy and is planning on joining the Rebel Alliance (Biggs, who's actually in the final film, and a bit more in the special edition, hence why Luke is so sad when Biggs dies).
  • Shaun of the Dead begins with the title character going through the motions of his dull, directionless life, with only tiny, sporadic hints of the coming Zombie Apocalypse; passing a "crazy hobo" on the streets who's actually one of the first zombies, trying to change the channel on a TV without noticing that they're all showing coverage of the zombie outbreak, etc. The scene is actually played twice: first on a normal day, before Shaun goes to work; and then the next day it's recreated frame for frame, only after the outbreak. Shaun, being hungover, is oblivious to every sign that things have changed for the worse.

  • The first GrailQuest book, The Castle of Darkness, introduces Pip as a farmboy (or possibly farmgirl) having a fistfight with the local bully (to introduce the combat rules) before he or she meets with Merlin, gets starting spells/magic items, and is sent on an adventure.

  • In A Brother's Price Jerin is seen doing chores, and trying to get his sister to feed the baby (something she thinks is men's work), at the beginning.
  • Older Than Radio: In Kidnapped (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, the hero is kidnapped from their home. Most of McKinley's novels follow the same template, so one way or another, the misfit heroine gets dragged into the magical world against her will.
  • Harry Potter examples are interesting because he visibly partakes in verbal abuse in them, and has no comfortable life.
  • Taken from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, where Bilbo and later Frodo and company are just chilling out in Hobbit Land, and Bilbo's party happens, and all in all it's a few hundred pages of the book and a half hour for the movie to actually start them on their journey.
  • Robert Jordan admitted to writing a homage to Tolkien as the beginning of the first book of The Wheel of Time series.
  • The Belgariad opens with Garion growing up, and things begin to cascade after he gets into his teenage years. Humorously, part of the catalyst is Polgara insisting on getting him out before he ends up in a "necessary" marriage.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: Most of the revival series' companion introduction episodes involve the Doctor straight away, except for...
    • "Rose", the very first episode of the new series, spends its first few minutes showing us Rose's ordinary life before she's asked to deliver the lottery money to the chief electrician in the basement, leading to her being attacked by Autons and meeting the Doctor.
    • Although "The Pilot" involves the Doctor from the beginning, he happens to be working as a university professor because he's taken up an obligation that requires him to stay in one place for a long time. Thus, Bill knows the Doctor for months before she even learns that he's an alien time traveller.
    • "The Woman Who Fell to Earth": The Doctor doesn't even appear until around 15 minutes in, before which we are introduced to Sheffield locals Ryan, his grandmother Grace and step-grandfather Graham, and rookie cop Yaz living their ordinary lives before the weird things start happening.

    Theme Parks 
  • This trope was invoked by Disneyland when it first opened. The "Main Street USA" part of the Magic Kingdom is the first part of the park any guest will see, intended to be familiar and well-recognizable before guests get to the more exotic places like Adventureland and Tomorrowland. It was especially needed when the park first opened since, at the time, nobody had seen anything like Disneyland before. Thematically, it can be understood as entering and exploring the world of young Walt Disney before traveling to the places his imagination took him — the other lands come from a mind that started on Main Street, so your journey into them begins there as well.
  • Also invoked with Port of Entry at Universal's Islands of Adventure. Guests enter through the calm and peaceful town that contains no attractions before finding themselves in the wackiness of places like Seuss Landing and Toon Lagoon, the thrills of Marvel Super Hero Island and Jurassic Park, and the wonders of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Lost Continent.

    Video Games 
  • Chrono Trigger begins with Crono's mother waking him up in the morning so he can go to the fair and meet his friend. It even starts off with a lovely little tune called "Town Life".
  • The Ecco the Dolphin games all start out this way by opening with Ecco in his Home Bay and giving the player control over when to initiate the game proper.
  • In Half-Life, you start with a pleasant monorail ride into work and a few chats with your workmates, before things Go Horribly Wrong.
  • The first few levels of Psychonauts are normal (for the camp) lessons in basic psychic techniques, with the only abnormality being Raz's stellar natural talent. Then Dogan's brain goes missing and things start to get serious.
  • Every Pokémon game ever made does this. Notably in Pokémon Gold and Silver, you're on an errand and initially have a Pokémon as protection rather than To Be a Master.
    • Averted in Pokémon Colosseum, where the main character starts the game as an experienced trainer with evolved Pokemon and having just performed a successful heist. This is hopefully not what his typical day looks like.
  • Kingdom Hearts starts on the Destiny Islands, with Sora waking up from a confusing dream to find everything seemingly normal...apart from a run-in with a creepy hooded figure who says his world has been 'connected'.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind starts with the player getting off a prison ship and talking to various people in an Census office in a small swamp town. Even after the player is released into the Wide-Open Sandbox, the main quest begins with lots of talking, reading, and fetch quests.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest VII starts off with the hero and his two best friends trying to unravel the mystery of the ruins nearby his hometown. After about two and a half hours of exploring and puzzle solving, you finally fight your first enemy. It's a slime.
    • Dragon Quest XI has you go around helping your neighbors in your home village prior to starting your adventure and meeting the king. There was also the coming-of-age-ceremony you went through with your childhood friend.
  • In Little Big Adventure 2, you could potter around your hometown indefinitely (if you were easily amused). It was only once you'd completed the first mission and found something for the Weather Wizard so he could dispel the storm that aliens would land and the plot started.
  • Most of the Mega Man Battle Network games start out with Lan and Mega Man either a) performing an errand on the net or b) just playing there. This helps you get used to the way the net is set up.
  • The first Guild Wars campaign begins as "the last day dawns over the kingdom of Ascalon." Players have found ways of getting to the maximum level without leaving this special area. This is even encouraged, within reason, by the existence of the "Legendary Defender of Ascalon" title.
  • Fable starts with the protagonist doing some good (or bad) deeds in his peaceful village of Oakvale in order to get something for his sister's birthday.
    • Likewise Fable II starts with the street urchin protagonist helping his/her sister do good/bad deeds in Bowerstone's Old Town to earn money to buy a magic music box. Unlike the original game, however, actions taken here actually have consequences later in the game. Don't get used to it.
    • In Fable III, you start by exploring your castle, talking to people, sparring with your mentor, escaping the castle through a secret passage which contains nothing more dangerous than bats (and not the goddamned kind). After that, you have to gain the support of the Dwellers by completing a series of tasks that teach the player about the remaining game play mechanics.
  • Grandia:
    • The first Grandia game plays it completely straight, right down to the childhood friend and the Jerk Jock.
    • In Grandia II, the main character, Ryudo, has already left home and has the life of a Geo-Hound (read: mercenary). The lead female, Elena, however, has this experience before going off to save the world. Funnily enough, though, Ryudo does return to his village, filling us in on in motivations and shutting up the local Jerk Jock.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 3 starts with the player character's birth. It continues showing the PC's life, introducing different gameplay mechanics. The game teaches you the basic controls and lets you choose the character's statistics. Then it cuts to 9 years later to show you how to shoot guns. It jumps again when the player character is 16 years old and you have to choose your tag skills. The final sequence of the "tutorial" is when the PC is 19 years old and escapes the vault.
    • The trope is notably "optional" in Fallout: New Vegas - The entire town of Goodsprings basically exists to be the stage for the combat tutorial, to give a few quests to discretely introduce various gameplay aspects (speech checks, reputation, karma, etc) and to build up your character's level. However, the quests and tutorial are optional, and players can basically go anywhere and do anything from the moment the game hands control over to you.
    • Fallout 4 begins in the pre-war era, with the player character, their spouse, and their newborn baby enjoying a typical day at home. Then the bombs start falling, and everyone has to rush to the nearest Vault, where they're put in cryogenic suspension for 200 years.
  • In Xenogears, Fei is told to run around and help with a close friend's wedding, during which he'll talk to villagers that will instruct him in game mechanics (up to and including Lucca Ashtear from Chrono Trigger.) The reason he leaves Lahan and goes up the mountain in the first place is because he was sent up to Citan's house to borrow his camera.
  • After a brief prologue showing a battle between the Homs and Mechon in the past, Xenoblade Chronicles 1 goes into this, focusing on the daily lives of Shulk, Reyn, and Fiora before things get ugly. There's a surprisingly large amount of exploration and sidequests available to do before the game's plot kicks off proper, some of which does involve roughing up the local wildlife, though.
  • Baldur's Gate does let you walk around your hometown a bit (and killing rats, ordinary rats)
  • Neverwinter Nights begins with the player waking up in an academy for RPG adventurers, and eventually graduating the same day, until the place is suddenly attacked by assassins. Likewise, the Neverwinter Nights 2 tutorial starts you out in the harvest festival. It is, however, skippable, and you'll even get the two levels that you would get by playing the the tutorial anyway. You do miss out on a couple of not-bad items if you skip, though.
  • In a way, Portal is like this. When it first starts everything seems like some normal series of puzzles you have to complete with no real story behind it.
  • Suikoden games tend to do this, letting the player get acquainted with (and attached to) the cast and experiencing their normal lives before they start getting caught up in the plot. In particular, Suikoden V spends its first few hours developing the Prince, the rest of the royal family, their loyal servants, the noble families, other important people they meet... with a few brief periods of action/combat before getting into the real meat of the plot. And it works.
  • In Assassin's Creed II, Ezio's story starts with his birth. It then cuts to 17 years later with Ezio getting in a minor scuffle with his family's rivals, doing errands for his parents, racing his older brother around Florence, finding eagle feathers, and having sex with a girl he fancies.
  • The Origin stories in Dragon Age: Origins. Of course things get worse pretty quickly in each of them, leading your PC to be recruited into the Grey Wardens. Subverted in the Mage Origin story. The first thing you have to do in the game is survive The Harrowing; the final test to determine whether an apprentice has the discipline to be a true mage. Failure usually leads to Demonic Possession followed by Death By Templar. The demon your PC faces also happens to be one of the most powerful demons of the Fade, a Pride Demon. Fortunately it doesn't try to possess you by force. Apparently he was in on the whole "test" thing.
  • The tutorial for Heavy Rain involves guiding Ethan Mars through his morning routine.
  • Gothic: Get kicked into the colony, faff around looking at the lovely scenery, try not to get eaten by wild beasts, maybe talk to people and get a good standing with the various groups. It takes a good, long while before anything critical starts to happen.
  • Mother 3 gives you a feel for your family, all the civilians, and the peaceful, wonderful community... making it far more dramatic and emotional when the plot kicks in. By the time you meet most of the townspeople though, the village is engulfed in flames and you have to start fighting enemies.
  • Discworld MUD has Pumpkin Town, the newbie area for players to get used to the interface and commands in the game and to learn to listen to signs.
  • In almost every Shin Megami Tensei game, you usually get a bit of gameplay where you can just walk through the city, talk to friends and characters and just generally have a good time. Except that even that hints up on being a Crapsaccharine World, and then things go bad.
  • Tales of Phantasia begins with Cress and Chester wandering around Toltus, helping people and then going to a forest to hunt a boar. Things go downhill from there.
  • Vandal Hearts II: Heaven's Gate starts, after a horrific scene of Rape, Pillage, and Burn done by a Black Knight squad, by introducing your main character trying to catch a butterfly for his sister. The intro continues into what is essentially a childhood's game of adventure (even if they do wield real weapons), until you had to kill the possessed remains of your Love Interest's grandfather. After that, it skips several years where everything has gone twenty shades of wrong.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance: The only action at the beginning is a slow snowball fight that serves as the combat tutorial.
  • Rome: Total War: For the Roman factions and the more powerful factions lucky enough to be far away from Rome such as Egypt and Parthia. There are typically a few unaligned "Rebel" cities conveniently close by that you can likely capture with your starting forces alone. While a few of your neighbors may declare war on you, none are particularly threatening and there is ample opportunity for establishing Trade Relations and Alliances with other nearby factions.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm starts off very gently, as the player leisurely explores Catie’s hometown, meeting her friends and getting a feel for her daily life. Even the first day of her ship voyage is peaceful – the plot doesn’t kick into high gear until night falls, and the storm clouds roll in…
  • Starbound starts with you waking up and running late for your graduation. Once you get there, things go south and you're catapulted into adventure. This prologue is also skippable (although you'll miss out on a few unique items).
  • Kolibri's first level takes place in Kolibri's home meadow, where the player can get used to the basic controls before initiating the game proper by having a sip of nectar.
  • Black & White: The first land eases you into the existence of a newborn god with a ready-made town of followers, limited duties, and no significant opponents. You don't even learn of the Big Bad and the driving conflict of the game until late in the land's main quest line, soon before you leave for the second land.

  • Homestuck starts out about John Egbert in his house, doing mundane stuff. It then proceeds to grow very strange when the reality-altering video games come into the plot. The rest of the first act, even though it is the shortest real act you'll see in the entire comic, is about a kid messing with inventory systems and a video game's mechanics until a meteor comes and almost pulverizes his house.

    Western Animation 
  • The majority of the first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic involves Twilight Sparkle exploring Ponyville and meeting her eventual friends. It's only in the last few minutes of this episode that it transitions into the adventure that continues into the second part.
  • The first episode of Transformers: Animated begins with Optimus and his crew of Space Bridge repair bots working on an asteroid in the middle of nowhere. The adventure only begins when the bridge their working on begins to spark and malfunction...