Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)
The world-below is the realm of humans: mundane, short-lived, often helpless creatures. But you are a Weather Builder—a resident of the upper-world, controller of all things atmospheric and a veritable Storm God! Fate of the Storm Gods is a 275,000-word interactive fantasy novel by Bendi Barrett, author of Avatar of the Wolf. I sat down with Bendi to talk about his upcoming game. You can try the first three chapters today. Fate of the Storm Gods releases this Thursday, January 28th.
I love how both your games, Avatar of the Wolf and this latest one, transport me into a world of mythology that feels familiar but also completely new. Tell me about what inspires your worldbuilding.
At the inaugural Narrascope convention in 2019, I went to a talk by Ian Thomas (Author of Pendragon Rising) and he talked about horror and how effective horror leads the viewer to drawing conclusions that essentially scare themselves. For me, world building is similar in that you’re sketching a world and your goal is to do so with strong enough fundamentals and a compelling enough hook that the reader will fall into it and even forgive some of the fuzzy bits at the edge where maybe things don’t quite work as smoothly.
For Avatar of the Wolf, I was laser focused on a sustained mood. I wanted to magnify the strangeness and outsized influence of the animal gods, but I established early on that there was no ambiguity about their presence in this world. The narrative came out of a question about how people might adapt to a world where faith was a sort of by product of the direct evidence of divine presence.
In Fate of the Storm Gods you play as an apprentice Weather Builder just starting out and going into the human world for the first time and you don’t have the luxury of that sort of blanket faith. So I built the world around the idea of how a powerful, sort of mythical figure might go about making sense of this world that, to quote you, feels “familiar but also completely new.”
Both worlds bloomed out of a narrow focus on how one particular being—in this case both powerful and quasi-divine—experiences the world and grew from there.
Storm Gods revolves around the power to control the weather, and this is managed by these semi-celestial beings the Weather Builders. What weather based powers did you enjoy writing?
I think lightning was my favorite weather power to write. Lightning is a terrifying force with such an outsized impact that in the game I wanted it to feel like an exclamation point. So when lightning is on the table, things are usually pretty final and if lightning doesn’t work then you might have a problem on your hands.
But the PC also has access to flame powers and earth powers through different means and it was a lot fun trying to think of how someone who has been training with these powerful forces for a long time might employ them in response to particular challenges.
But yeah, probably the lightning.
Also, my favorite part of the game might be the homunculus and their brethren. Tell me a little about these creatures.
In the world of Storm Gods the homunculi are a sort of species of metallic-seeming servants built by the Weather Builders to perform tasks for them. They’re tall and imposing, but otherwise come in a variety of forms. They can be incredibly deadly when necessary.
At the start of the game the PC learns that some of the homunculi have become violent and that’s a part of what brings them to the human world alongside a representative of the humans and a faithful homunculus called Humil, whom the PC grew up with.
I think that the story of Storm Gods is also the story of Humil, who changes in significant ways over the course of the story right along with the PC. I’m really glad to hear that Humil’s journey connected with you, because writing Humil’s arc was an amazing ride and I can’t wait for people to meet this character.
I think if something ties the PC in Fate of the Storm Gods to the PC in Avatar of the Wolf it’s that there’s maybe an outsider/identity question that occurs for each. Can you talk about that?
There’s a lot of weight placed on the shoulders of both these PCs early on: In Avatar you have a dead god to avenge and in Storm Gods there’s a world-spanning crisis to investigate. In both stories these pressures give the PC the opportunity to reevaluate their allegiances and maybe question some of the assumptions that they’ve nurtured up until that point. Ultimately, that’s what I think identity is: a set of assumptions about yourself that you accept as fact and then encourage the world to accept as fact, which is why I love having NPCs who will kind of question your PC’s identity and ask you repeatedly to either double down on your convictions or bend toward new configurations.
As for being an outsider, I think that’s an important ingredient in the alchemy of identity. While in these extraordinary circumstances both PCs find themselves newly independent—in Avatar, it’s from a hungry god; in Storm Gods it’s from a patient, but exacting teacher—and they have to define themselves in a larger context, deciding what they stand for and what they don’t in a world that they may not yet fully understand.
I don’t envy either of these characters for the tough decisions they have to make, but hopefully it makes for compelling storytelling.
What else have you been working on?
So many things! However, nothing close enough to imminent release to talk up yet. I encourage anyone who might be interested in keeping up with me to follow my work at benmakesstuff.com or on twitter at @bendied. I promise I am attempting to be better at regularly updating both.