Hi guys. I know ChooseYourStory.com has come up here in the past, so I thought there might be some interest in some of the better storygames published in the last year. (Mayana was a regular for awhile anyway but I'm not sure if she still posts here...) All our stories are free to read and contain no ads, so if reading is your thing then have at them. Critical and sometimes blunt feedback is a bit part of the culture there so don't be shy if you have opinions as well.
I Went to the Graveyard - Short and sweet. The whole thing is under 10k words and it's structured as a series of short stories centered around a graveyard (and an item you choose in the beginning). They all work as standalone stories with only subtle interconnections, so this is the one to check out if you don't have a lot of time. Astoundingly good prose.
The air was warm and damp. The world was decaying from the thick pressure against it. Trees that framed the headstones were being devoured by moss and fungus. The parasites were languid and indulgent. Their fleshy skin only growing as the bark below decayed. It made me want to be sick.
Even now with the moon in the sky, in the time when the sun had disappeared to let the world recover, it was as if you could see the water steaming off the backs of the marble slabs and angels.
But the darkness was still dissipated by her calm light. The flickering of candles dimly glowing beside some headstones cast a gentle softness, like fireflies dancing. It was thrilling. Romantic.
I thought of the message that I'd seen that morning and a slight smile touched my lips.
Meet me in the graveyard. I'll make it worth your while '
Twin Arrows - A classic Western, and maybe something more? You ride into a little town at the edge of nowhere, as a bounty hunter in New Mexico territory, 1852. About 20k words.
1852 - The Territory of New Mexico
One-Eyed McCaw. Bounty: 100 dollars. Dead or Alive. You fold the wrinkled piece of paper back into a small square and shove it into your front pocket. It was him at the card table. Deep scar at the left edge of his lip, curled moustache, and eyepatch over the right eye. Definitely him. It didn't look like it was his lucky day at the card table and you were about to make it a hell of a lot worse.
“Another, sugar?” the bartender, Trixy, asks.
You look down at the empty shot glass in front of you. It wasn't alone. The glass didn’t look well washed, although that were true for most of the patrons in the place. You doubt the establishment received many complaints anyway.
“Fill ‘er up, Trix,” you reply pushing the shot glass towards her.
As she reaches for the bottle, you admire her deep red curls and wonder how a girl like her survives in a place like this. Somehow she manages, and even thrives in a place lawmen rarely visit.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you here before,” she says finishing the pour. “What brings you into town?”
--“The call of adventure and danger, of course. I live by two rules: Rule number one and rule number two.” (show your pistols for emphasis)
--“I came here for you, Trix.”
--“I’m hunting a man. A killer by the name of One-Eyed McCaw.”
--“With respect ma’am, my business is my own.”
The Book of Vanishing Tales - Now moving on to a heftier story, this is a fantasy story that weighs in at 65k. There are a lot of Epic Swordman Kills Everything type stories on the site, but this one is different, it's got beautiful prose and a nice slow burn about an old man journeying across the world to reunite with his wife in the Grove of Muses and find out what's gone wrong in a world where dreams have been taken and the memories of stories are fading.
Since dreams were lost thirty years ago in the Sacrifice of Salvation, there is little attraction left for you in sleeping late. You wake with the sun - earlier, in winter, - and generally spend your mornings laying out in the dewy grass, staring up at the light shimmering over the leaves of the forest canopy, or trying to count how many different sounds you can hear. Sometimes, you bring out miniature, carved palaces and hang them, then sit a while watching the hummingbirds squabble over the thrones of seed and the fountains of nectar.
But today is different, for it will be your last day in Dreaming Forest for some time, perhaps forever. You sit and drink hot Franjia tea, just watching and taking everything in, as if drawing each aspect of the scene on the folded papers of your mind.
"Good-bye to you all," you murmur at the creatures of paradise that flit and dive around you. This place, this secret idyllic corner of nature, was the final dream of your wife before she was lost. You were meant to have shared it together - her, the Muse of Epics, and you, the simple storyteller she fell in love with. Instead, you had tended it for four decades, alone, with only her memory beside you. And now, even that is fading.
"It's time," you sigh, and return inside your simple wooden cabin to finish packing. Today you are to begin a pilgrimage that will take you thousands of farspans north, across the equator and beyond, to the sacred Grove of Muses. It is there your wife stands as stone, along with the other muses who gave their lives to save the planet. All except Sandman, who was all but destroyed, and now orbits the planet as a ring of glittering dust. Now, instead of giving special dreams, all dreams return to him.
The Price of Freedom: Innocence Lost - Set in Roman times, you and your little brother are sold as slaves to pay your father's debt. You wind up at a school that trains gladiators, and have to manage relationships and your training to survive your first real match. This one is a little different, it's a Choice of Games style storygame with the stats and skills and customization and all. It was actually on the verge of being published through them before Drama happened, but that means the story is available for free now.
"How much?" you ask, your voice sounding eerily calm as you glare up at your father. "How much did you sell us for? I hope it was a lot, ‘cos you just sold the only two people in the world who still care about you and you’re never going to see us again!"
Your father never even looks up at you. His head is cupped in his hands to avoid meeting your eyes as if he’s trying to hide from the guilt. "You don’t understand, Cyrus," he tells you. You can hear his voice cracking up, but he’s trying to explain this to you as calmly as he can. "I just can’t look after you any more, or your brother either. I don’t have the money. This is the best thing I can do for you. Life will be safer in Rome, people will look after you there. You won’t have to worry about going hungry or getting thrown out of your home. You’ll have a better life."
"You don’t know that," you tell him angrily. "You don’t know what’s going to happen to us. That man could sell us to anybody. You wouldn’t know if they treated us bad, or starved us or beat us. We could die and you’d never even know. Don’t pretend you did this so we’d have a better life and don’t pretend you care! You stopped caring about us as soon as mother died, and now we’re going too, so you don’t have to pretend any more!"
Your father looks like he’s trying to think of something to say to you, but can’t seem to find the words. All he does is cry into his hands until the slaver finally returns. "I’m so sorry, Cyrus," he tells you as the slaver pulls you away. "Can you ever forgive me?"
"You’ll never know," you tell your father as you’re dragged out of the door. Your father’s crying becomes hysterical once you’re out of sight and he realizes that he’ll never be able to undo what he’s done. Still, the deal has been made and he doesn’t come after you.
2019 was a busy year and there are a lot more, but I already feel like this is enough of a text wall. All the stories on the site are free, and the editor is pretty accessible if you'd like to try your own hand at writing. You don't need to know any coding to write a game and some of our best authors don't use the advanced editor at all, but there's a simple system for creating variables and IF THEN ELSE scripts and the like if you want to get more technical with yours.
Also if there's anything that could be more accessible with the editor, buttons that need to be labeled etc please let us know. The site isn't being actively updated anymore, but there's a user named BradinDvorak that maintains extensions for Firefox and Chrome and he's been able to do a lot to improve and modernize the layout. (Profile with links to extensions here.)
Anyway, happy reading!