After the critically acclaimed flop of a game “Coconut Queen”, I wanted to continue to explore combining resource management, city-building, and a fun story about another Girl Who Kicks Ass. One of the ideas that iWin generously hired a development team to let me prototype was for putting a twist on the familiar legends of Robin Hood.
There are practically no female characters in the original legends. Maid Marian, while not a completely helpless character, didn’t really move any stories forward in the way befitting a protagonist. After poring over multiple versions of the legends (did you know that Robin Hood took place in two different forests, Sherwood and Barnsdale Forest?) I found room in the legend for a new story based on the following:
- Robin Hood almost never won in a fair fight, in hand-to-hand combat.
- Robin Hood was a master of disguise, impossible for anyone to find when he was in town.
- Robin Hood and Maid Marian always met in private. Nobody saw the two of them together until their eventual wedding.
- Only Robin Hood’s most trusted companions were with him at his deathbed, and the grave of such a famous individual was suspiciously absent.
It’s obvious, isn’t it? Robin Hood is a persona that Marian created on her own.
Marian came across the Merry Men living in the forest, and saw the miserable conditions of their existence. They were cold, hungry, filthy, squabbling among themselves and completely disorganized and unprepared to handle the Sheriff of Nottingham. What they needed, she realized, was a Mom. So Marian became both Leader and Mother to the Merry Men (and women) of Sherwood. She got them to bathe, train, build homes among the trees, and become a big family in the forest. To improve their living conditions, she enlisted the help of a gifted bachelor inventor, Friar Tuck, whose constant tinkering and knowledge of mechanical devices in his home within a hollowed tree led to it being dubbed “The Tuck Knowledge-y Tree”.
But for morale, one of her greatest creations was a Legend. She couldn’t always be there for the Merry Men, and any real leader ran the risk of being captured and executed by the Sheriff of Nottingham. The men needed a leader that could never be caught, never be beaten, and whom all of the Men could love. So she hatched a secret with them, fashioned a signature look that she or any other number of outlaws could don as needed, and gave birth to a legend.
This was the framework for a game about building a new civilization from scratch in the middle of a forest, with plenty of room for humor and inside jokes. Joan of Arc and Mulan provided some useful wayposts for fleshing out the story of a woman living secretly as a man, including the complications of the men falling in love with Marian, who in turn fell in love with someone else.
If I can get an artist to help with the character design, this story could still kick ass. I know what the cliff-hanger ending would be, even.