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Chrono Cross - The Scars of Time

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I've mentioned a few times in the Discord that if I were to tackle another project, it would be a storyline rewrite for Chrono Cross. I will probably never take on this project, but I hope to put my ideas together at some point and release it online in case anyone is interested in pursuing it.

Chrono Cross's Missteps
There are 2 main missteps with Chrono Cross. The first is that there is a huge cast of characters, and only around 1/3 of them affect the story at all. The second is that the background story and cosmology are incredibly confusing, and delivered in exposition dumps that do not offer any stakes to the player. Everything else about the game... the visuals, the music, the level design, the dimension swapping, the battle system... these are top notch, and deserve a better story. So let me give high level overviews of what "The Scars of Time" would do.

PROBLEM 1: CHARACTERS
I would drop the number of playable characters to 8. Each character would have a pretty big impact on the story, and each has their motivation by the end. The characters fall into 3 camps:
(1) Radicals, or characters who were at ground zero of the time crash and the dimensions splitting. As a result, they exist in one dimension, but not the other.
(2) Dreamers, or characters who are not who they seem, due to their displacement in the time stream.
(3) Unbounds, or characters who are not bound by Fate. (Needs a better word.)

*Serge - Radical - White Innate. As the cause of the time crash, he is a Radical.
*Kid - Dreamer - White Innate. Kid is her nickname, given by Norris when they were children. Her real name is Shea, and she is, unknown to her, an emination of Schala.
*Guile - Dreamer - Black Innate. Actually Magus, though he does not know this. The only thing he remembers is that he is seeking the Frozen Flame, and that Kid is somehow important to that. As he is displaced in time, he is a Dreamer.
*Leena - Unbound - Home - Blue Innate. Unlike the original game, this is the Home World Leena, unbound by FATE. Originally along just to help Serge, she becomes enmeshed when she discovers her father Miguel is a key player in the Time Crash.
*Glenn - Unbound - Another - Green Innate. When Dario was killed, Another Glenn stopped consulting the record of FATE, and became unbound. He is along to discover what's wrong with the Acacia Dragoons.
*Norris - Unbound - Another - Red Innate. As a spy from outside of El Nido, Norris does not consult FATE for fear of being discovered. He was raised at Lucca's orphanage alongside Kid, and has connections with Luccia.
*Orlha - Radical - Yellow Innate. Orlha and her sister Tia were traveling in the Sea of Eden when the time crash happened, and were separated into separate timestreams. Originally along to retrieve the Hydra Humor for Doc, she sticks around when she realizes that she might be able to find her sister.
*Sprigg - Dreamer - ??? Innate. Sprigg was displaced in time when El Nido was created in 605 AD. She is an actual mystic, and knew Magus as the Fiendlord. Her main purpose in the cast is to be able to transform into characters from the original game after you meet them.

There is also Lynx, a black innate, who is a Radical, and Harle, changed to a white innate, who is a Dreamer.

PROBLEM 2: STORY
Serge and co never quite felt like heroes in the original game. It never seemed like the other characters WANTED them to win. The background story made this worse, as Serge's cries as a young child were somehow what Schala heard and used as an excuse to split the timeline? Even after playing the game 6 times, I still don't quite understand.

The story of "The Scars of Time" has to do with the question, "What happens to failed timelines?" It is an anti-multiverse story. There is one timeline, and the Dragon God (aka the Time Devourer) is the entity responsible for cleaning up the failed timelines. Most of the time, this goes unnoticed, as the variations are small, and there are no new souls. However, there were 2 points in time where the planet changed courses, and due to the interference of Lavos, the Dragon God was not able to eliminate the old timeline. These are known as "The Scars of Time". The first was when Lavos fell in 65,000,000 BC. This is the Reptite timeline. In this timeline, the Reptites became the dominant species. Zeal never rose, Magic (stemming from Lavos) was never received, and the Reptites became the Dragonians/Demi-humans. 

The second was when Lavos was killed by Crono and team in 1999 AD. The ruined future timeline of 2400 AD became a scar. This is the focus of the story. Because the time gates have affixed certain poinst of time, The 2400AD in the ruined timeline will continue to exist as long as Lavos does. Schala, who was sent to 1999 from the Ocean Palace, merged with Lavos to become the Dream Devourer, using Lavos's power to turn the ruined future into a "Scar". Balthasar, from the ruined timeline, became aware of the other dimension, and crossed over. He used the technology of the saved timeline to study Time and Dimensions. He founded Chronopolis to study how to save the people in the scarred timelines so that Schala could be freed. This involved terraforming the El Nido archipelago over the course of 400 years, starting in 605 AD with brining over the Dragonians (the Reptites). Then, in 1005 AD, he would use Chronopolis to transfer all of the people from the ruined timeline to the new land, and allow them to integrate into a true timestream. To power this massive undertaking, he used the Frozen Flame, or the heart of Lavos, which had been siphoning energy from the planet for millions of years.

Something unexpected happened though. The Frozen Flame gained sentience. On the night when the transfer was to occur, Wazuki and Miguel were taking young Serge to the mainland for medical attention. Lavos called out to them, getting them to stop in Chronopolis and promising that the Frozen Flame would heal Serge. When Serge touched the Flame, it become bonded to his DNA, removing Chronopolis's power source and causing the Time Crash. I have an entire document of the 10 specific things that happened during the time crash, but the main things you need to know are that Kid and Harle were created, one by the Dream Devourer and one by the Time Devourer, the timelines split, and all of the Radicals and Dreamers all got caught in either one dimension or the other. The Dragon God/Time Devourer was trapped in stasis by Miguel and Prometheus (aka Robo) by using the Chrono Trigger, allowing a new Scar of Time to form. Another World is the TRUE timeline, but because of everything that happened, it is the timeline in which Lavos wins. Serge and co must figure out how to unite the timelines so that the TRUE timeline, in which everyone lives, is also the one where Lavos is defeated.

I have more, including the difference between Magic and Elements, Sunstone and Dreamstone, the Dragon Tear and the Frozen Flame... but it will take some time to compile all of the notes together. For now, this is enough to get you on the right wavelength when I talk about it on forums or discord.


Projects:
FFVI: Divergent Paths (Completed) - a complete storyline and gameplay hack of FF6 that adds Leo as a playable character
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It's a pity Dream Devourer is such an important name in the story, because those out of time could be "Anachronists" (and that has the lovely Chrono root in it too). But... if the Unbound are actually the Dreamers, then the Dream Devourer seeks to consume their freedom from the shackles of destiny (the one true timeline) which dovetails nicely with the premise that multiverses are prunned.

An interesting read. I don't know a whole lot about Chrono Cross and I know even less about playstation hacking, but there are a lot of talented people out there and I'll bet they'd love this, even if it's just a literary analysis. You might want to try the Chrono Trigger hacking place (its name escapes me) once you've got your thoughts together; there are more fish in that pond.
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If you can somehow do a branching storyline or multiple main characters then you can divide stories and content for many of the 40 characters between each storyline or main character.

Depends on what you can do with the event scripting system, I guess. If you can switch main characters and there isn't a "this person's death means game over" setting hardcoded for certain characters, then you're golden.

You could start with one character and have them find something that warps them to the End of Time, and from there have your narrator let you choose whose story to play.
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Yeah, but why? Do you really need to play the adventures of Janice, NeoFio, and Turnip? Chrono Cross, in order to succeed as a story, needs to have drastically fewer characters.

I do have written in my design doc that you can potentially gain new characters in New Game +, once you have the Chrono Cross and can break the chains of FATE. On your second playthrough, you can gain Karsh, Zoah, Riddel, Luccia, Steena, and the new characters Dario and Tia. On your THIRD playthrough, you can gain Viper, Radius, Zappa, Fargo, Harle, and Lynx. However, note that before that, Sprigg's ability is changed so that she can shapeshift into all of the other characters that don't directly affect the story. So you GET characters like Skelly, Grobyc, Janice, Sneff, etc. You just get them as Sprigg morphs by completing sidequests.


Projects:
FFVI: Divergent Paths (Completed) - a complete storyline and gameplay hack of FF6 that adds Leo as a playable character
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Unless each new playthrough unlocks a lot more content then only fanatics will play it through and through, which may be your goal.

I prefer the freedom to start what I want, when I want, from the start. If that means I can play as the goofball characters in a game - going through some foolish quest that's mostly jokes - then I'll do that if I like it.

You can do a lot with ambient storytelling, especially when the player is distracted by what seems like a lighthearted story. And there's always a way to flesh out any character if you put your mind to it.
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