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Old 15-01-23, 15:18   #1
Pelagius
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Default Tomb Raider: Descent, Story Concept

So... I was mulling over how to do a somewhat more compressed version of the reboot reboot series I worked out a while back, and I think some of my... reservations with the narrative were based on the fundamental problem with classic Lara: the woman acts like Frank Castle but lives like Bruce Wayne.

The version of Lara that murders criminals (and sometimes even relatively innocent or unarmed people) with total impunity while chasing after world-shattering artifacts can't possibly be the same person that legally resides in a huge mansion with a bajillion pounds in her bank account and writes travel books about her adventures.

But then it occurred to me: there's plenty of precedent in this setting for multiple Laras. So... why not have Natla's doppelganger slipping into something like reboot/legend-Lara's shoes, and run with that? Why not have classic Lara as the morally-ambiguous-villain Carmen Sandiego type, hunted by the law?

Anyway, I'll just dump the outline here. I don't know if I'll ever get around to fleshing this out as a proper story, but the basic premise does kinda tickle me.


Part 1: Origin

* Lara is born in 1896, which is basically how far back in time you need to go for arranged marriages to be the overwhelming norm among British aristocrats, but just about in time for airplanes to be invented. Theo van Croy (Werner's dad), arranges an archaeological expedition to Afghanistan shortly after WW1, using an army surplus biplane for site recon. Lara gets invited, one thing leads to another, and a certain dashing pilot gets her stranded in the Himalayas during a snowstorm. She survives, obviously, and manages to grab a trinket from a hidden shrine, but she has to leave the pilot behind.

* Arriving back in Surrey, Sophia Leigh is introduced as one of the Croft's family inlaws. Sophia takes an interest in Lara's tale of survival and particularly the amulet she took back, mentioning that she's a collector of ancient artifacts. Long story short, Lara finds some of Sophia's 30-year-old longevity experiments in the sewers of Whitechapel in London (turns out she either worked with or was Jack the Ripper), kills Sophia, and takes the Eye of Isis for herself. Lara's family are aghast about all this, but accept that she acted in self-defence, and don't tell the authorities.

* Insert the plot for an adapted version of TR2 that I outlined here. The specifics don't really matter enormously, but basically Lara goes chasing after a mystery box, commits escalating acts of violence, saves the day and a couple million lives, but turns herself into a criminal fugitive and effectively kills innocent people as a side-effect, including her father. The family disowns her, and she goes into hiding abroad.


Part 2: Survival

* The Eye of Isis keeps Lara young for the next century or so while she travels the world and builds up a small private fortune by trafficking in stolen artifacts. Unbeknownst to her the amulet is an Atlantean 'DNA-repair' artifact that once belonged to Sitara (aka Ishtar), a companion/frenemy to the ancient Queen Natla (aka Tiamat). Chasing down leads on its origin, she winds up releasing Natla on the world in the early 60s, narrowly escaping with her life in the process.

* Fast forward to 1996, and Natla (now fully regenerated and more superficially human-looking), hires 'Laura Cruz' to locate and re-assemble the Scion. The broad story outline of TR1 follows, and in the process of averting Natla's world-domination plot, Lara winds up blowing up her pyramid in the Canaries, creating a tsunami and turning everything in a 50-mile radius into an irradiated wasteland. Aside from Lara herself, a partly-grown skinless doppelganger manages to escape and washes up with wreckage on the shore of another island.

* Enter Kurtis Trent, a detective working for Interpol's psy-arcana division and responsible for on-site evacuations, emergency response and cleanup. He finds the only known survivor of the 'mining accident', a woman with "severe radiation burns" and has her rushed to a life support facility, where she makes a relatively rapid recovery. Kurtis questions her about the disaster but Lara's double has only confused and fragmentary memories of the experience, and Natla Technologies of course denies all responsibility. Eventually Lara's double leads Kurtis to the ruins of Croft Manor, abandoned for nearly 50 years, and 'remembers' who she is.


Part 3: Divergence

* Original Lara (or O-Lara) and Doppelganger Lara (or D-Lara) wind up going their separate ways. The former continues as a lone wolf hunting down leads on ancient archaeotech for profit and pleasure, increasingly crossing paths with N-Tech minions hell-bent on the same endeavour. The latter agrees to help Kurtis to reconstruct the causes of the pyramid disaster and help resolve other supernatural crises, in exchange for getting a clean slate from the authorities.

* N-Tech itself takes one of Natla's clones out of the freezer and carries on mostly as if nothing happened. Chapters 5 and 6 of the reboot-reboot concept I worked on transpire roughly as described, except that Lara is split into two characters instead of one. Over the next 30 years, O-Lara works to take down N-Tech, not so much out of moral propriety as resentment over being personally meddled with, but she's fighting a losing battle, and eventually invades a US military base to prompt a nuclear exchange, levelling most of civilisation to level the playing field. D-Lara's more... restrained... adventures allow her to raise enough funds to rebuild Croft Manor, and she has two children with Kurtis, shortly before the world goes to hell. D-Lara dies of old age (well, cancer, nominally), before passing on the Manor.

* In the final showdown, around 2026, O-Lara nominally co-operates with Kurtis' organisation, rebranded as Trinity, to take down the final N-tech stronghold, which is now using atlantean mutants as footsoldiers. They release a viral bioweapon intended as a failsafe to kill off the mutants, but Lara is also killed as a side-effect, given that years of exposure to the Eye of Isis has given her a similar biosignature. But O-Lara's heirs are safe.

.

Last edited by Pelagius; 25-01-23 at 02:15. Reason: Some tweaks to the ending.
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Old 10-02-23, 06:10   #2
.snake.
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This is a pretty cool concept. While I personally prefer to try to stay locked within the established canon as much as possible (at least for games 1-6 which are the only ones that 'count' imo) I actually like how you've tried to combine multiple diverging universes here into one that sort-of works. I also like the Natla and Tiamat parallel.

Is there any particular reason why you have Natla's release from imprisonment/nuclear bomb explosion happening in the 1960s, rather than the canon date of 1945?

*

As to your general issue with how Lara can be both a mass-murderer and a member of British high-society: I always thought something could be made of the conspiracy theory prevalent today of a deep-state that runs things, and which allows its members certain privileges and freedoms, even when they are Epstein-level criminals. Funnily enough, this deep-state is often called "The Cabal" which actually ties into TR quite nicely, if we go by AOD-canon which claims that the Cabal is truly behind everything in the world, thereby shadowing organizations like Natla Tech, SLinc, or Trinity (or perhaps being the source of these?).

So perhaps: Lara's earliest exploits had her acting in favor of the 'elites' and so she was able to evade the law to a certain extent because the shadow governments and Cabal truly pulling the strings behind the scenes saw Lara as a useful puppet they could control. This is why she can kill museum guards and police; or get arrested by the American military and set off a missile without her life being affected too much in the long run.

The turning point then are the events of TR4-AOD. She does something, or something is set in motion that angers the elites and Cabal, and she is no longer a useful puppet for them to exploit. So now she is on the run from the law - Von Croy's murder simply being a 'red herring' to incite the press and give them a chance to smear her. For the first time ever, Lara becomes a true renegade and rebel, realizing for the first time that all these previous years her perceived freedom and rebelliousness were only tolerated by the Powers-That-Be because she served a purpose for them. By this logic, Lara's true awakening begins with the outset of the (unfinished and unknown) AOD saga.
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Old 10-05-23, 23:44   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by .snake. View Post
This is a pretty cool concept. While I personally prefer to try to stay locked within the established canon as much as possible (at least for games 1-6 which are the only ones that 'count' imo) I actually like how you've tried to combine multiple diverging universes here into one that sort-of works. I also like the Natla and Tiamat parallel.

Is there any particular reason why you have Natla's release from imprisonment/nuclear bomb explosion happening in the 1960s, rather than the canon date of 1945?
I don't particularly imagine Natla's release occurring as an accidental biproduct of nuclear testing so I didn't feel especially beholden to that date, but I'm sure it could be adjusted by a decade or two. I did toy with the notion of O-Lara commandeering a Nazi submarine for the purpose of reaching Atlantis (because, again, Hilga Sinclair is objectively the best Lara), but the idea would be that Natla/Tiamat fills roughly the same narrative role as Set in TR4, with the ultimate showdown just taking a lot longer to resolve.

Anyhoo, I'm glad you like the general concept.

Quote:
As to your general issue with how Lara can be both a mass-murderer and a member of British high-society: I always thought something could be made of the conspiracy theory prevalent today of a deep-state that runs things, and which allows its members certain privileges and freedoms, even when they are Epstein-level criminals. Funnily enough, this deep-state is often called "The Cabal" which actually ties into TR quite nicely, if we go by AOD-canon which claims that the Cabal is truly behind everything in the world, thereby shadowing organizations like Natla Tech, SLinc, or Trinity (or perhaps being the source of these?).

So perhaps: Lara's earliest exploits had her acting in favor of the 'elites' and so she was able to evade the law to a certain extent because the shadow governments and Cabal truly pulling the strings behind the scenes saw Lara as a useful puppet they could control. This is why she can kill museum guards and police; or get arrested by the American military and set off a missile without her life being affected too much in the long run.

The turning point then are the events of TR4-AOD. She does something, or something is set in motion that angers the elites and Cabal, and she is no longer a useful puppet for them to exploit. So now she is on the run from the law - Von Croy's murder simply being a 'red herring' to incite the press and give them a chance to smear her. For the first time ever, Lara becomes a true renegade and rebel, realizing for the first time that all these previous years her perceived freedom and rebelliousness were only tolerated by the Powers-That-Be because she served a purpose for them. By this logic, Lara's true awakening begins with the outset of the (unfinished and unknown) AOD saga.
You could certainly have a story-sequence where the Cabal help to paper over some of the rough edges of Lara's earlier escapades as 'mystery benefactors' of a sort, but I think the problems with TR3 in particular are just too gigantic to wave away like this. Setting aside any other problems, at least within your outline Lara does not initially know that she has mystery benefactors, and because she is not a moron she would assume that murdering the entire staff of a US military base or London museum would prompt a gigantic international manhunt for the culprit and... um, probably not do that?

I mean, not unless she really had exhausted every alternative option. And if she did, she would never risk going home again.

The events in TR2 are something I could probably imagine the Cabal punting down the world's memory hole with bribes to the right people, but at the point where Ms. Croft has launched an ICBM at some unspecified location we just pray wasn't inhabited... I'm sorry, but my suspension of disbelief has left the building.

Last edited by Pelagius; 12-05-23 at 20:50.
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Old 04-07-23, 23:20   #4
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So, random posting attack:

I think having The Cabal as a kind of long-running antagonistic organisation could help the franchise in other respects, since it helps to explain how massive underground tomb complexes could remain isolated for so long: the global occult conspiracy deliberately keeps them secret and maybe even maintains them in relatively good condition for the sake of ritual ceremonies every couple of centuries. You could even have a couple of armed sentries around the place without breaking immersion too much, and if Lara was a former member it would give her an "In" for picking up a trail of clues toward finding these places.

(Not saying that prior games, like AoD or the reboot trilogy, haven't more-or-less used this device, btw.)
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