The development team had a document outlining the plot in detail. This is the 4B and final revision of the plot.


Before the game

Belthasar comes to the future and builds Chronopolis in secret. He uses the Frozen Flame, its generator, and a Time Egg to resurrect friends and others. However, the effort to save King Zeal backfires; he loses control of the King, who escapes on his own will with the Flame and Time Egg.

King Zeal wants to create a new kingdom of Zeal, and recruits Dalton to gather old relics and technology. Dalton is of doubtful loyalty, as he was with Queen Zeal, but King Zeal doesn’t consider him a serious threat. King Zeal takes interest in Crono, Marle, and Lucca, and gives General Montcrief funds and cyborg implants (built by Dalton) to cause trouble in the present. Porre tries to reverse-engineer these to create other machines, such as the Chimera tank, but they aren’t skilled enough to make them functional.

Prologue

Chapter 1: Legacy of Zeal

Chapter 2: Double Trouble

Having heard and observed the party, the Porre agent (Sorin) decides to quietly loot Lucca’s house to learn interesting stuff. He finds the Gate Key, and uses it to travel to Chronopolis (via the Telepod blue Gate). He downloads information about tank technology.

Chapter 3: Beneath the Azure

King Zeal resurrects Schala with the Flame’s power. He does this instead of simply preventing her from dying in the past, because he wants her to experience the same thing he has experienced.

Chapter 4: Murmurs of Red

King Zeal’s removal of the Masamune alters the timeline. In the Middle Ages, Cyrus and Glenn died as ordinary soldiers. Kasmir lived on to become a powerful Mystic illusionist instead of dying young. In 600 A.D., Kasmir replaced Magus as the Mystic leader. A bewildered Glenn returned from the Lavos quest and founded the Vanguard order to try and restore peace quickly. However, the war dragged on until about 650 A.D.

Chapter 5: Asking the Mirror

Chapter 6: The Breaking Point

Chapter 7: An Emerald Dream Pt. I

The Dragon Tooth falls into a Gate leading to 3 million B.C., where the Frozen Flame recreates a bunch of Reptites from the bones that compose the Tooth. These Reptites then go to war with humans and the timeline eventually become the "Reptite timeline" as seen by the party in 1 A.D., 2302 A.D. and 1002 A.D. (Note: This information should be revealed in the Lucca/Robo chapter rather than this one.)

Chapter 8: An Emerald Dream Pt. 2 (this needs a distinct title)

Chapter 9: An Emerald Dream Pt. III (this needs a distinct title)

Chapter 10: The Stain of Regency

Chapter 11: The Founding of Guardia

Chapter 12: The Gray Forgotten

Chapter 13: Animal Persistence

The party is saddened by Cakulha's fate (whatever it is) but Belthasar is just upset about the Vanguard searching the oceans for Chronopolis. The party decides to visit Ayla in prehistory.

Chapter 14: The Glare of Midnight...

Belthasar thought he could handle the situation with the robots and Vanguard searching for Chronopolis, but he can't handle it any longer. Belthasar decides to clean up the timeline: if the party recover the "past" Masamune and put it back somewhere in 11,995 B.C., the Mystic War will revert back to its original state and the Vanguard will cease to exist to annoy Chronopolis. Belthasar reveals that King Zeal had given it to the real Kasmir in 605 A.D. (he put Masa and Mune to sleep too).

Chapter 15: ...And the Darkness of Noon

Chapter 16: Stop the Porre Lab!

Chapter 17: Once More Unto the Breach

This chapter is a strong opportunity to demonstrate Belthasar's philosophy that the end justifies the means, as well as the actual unreliability of Crono's party. Ultimately, this will show why Belthasar didn't work with most of them in Chrono Cross...

Chapter 18: Born in Sin, Die in Sin

Chapter 19: The Dreamtime

At this point, the player can access a computer record in Chronopolis showing Project "Anabasis", the record of King Zeal's revival and escape.

Chapter 20: Dalton’s Last Stand

Zeal contacted Dalton as early as before Chapter 1, somehow gaining his support and asking him to gather old relics to prepare for the re-creation of the Kingdom of Zeal. So that's why Dalton seeks the "Silver Streak" in Chapter 1 and encounters Magus. It doesn't change history then because the relics are inactive without a power source. This allows us to put Chapter 1 in 11998 BC instead of 11999 BC without too much coincidences (since Dalton's action is directly caused by King Zeal in this scenario). Zeal actually intends to kill Dalton since he is well aware that Dalton would try to enslave the villagers and make himself the king of that new kingdom.

Chapter 21: Let us Part in Zealous Regret

Chapter 22: Dreaming Across Time

Chapter 23: Where Dreams go to Die

Ending

Other overarching plot points

The following points are mostly valid, although they're sometimes not 100% ironed out or are susceptible of being changed as the coding of the game advances.

Crono

Crono will speak in Crimson Echoes. He speaks in Chrono Cross, as well as in the official Chrono Trigger manga -- in which we have a huge glimpse at his personality. The only reason he didn't speak in CT was because he was the main character. Same for Serge; he's silent because he's the main character, and as soon as "Lynx" replaces him, "Lynx" becomes the one who doesn't speak.

The thing with CT:CE is that we don't have a main character. Magus, Glenn, and Lucca appear to be the most central characters in the plot; Marle gets a lot of attention too thanks to the 1 A.D. story arc; Robo may be a bit less important but has exposure in the future arcs; and Ayla fills the role of the optional character. Crono, on the other hand, is less developed because of his silent role. All he does (and he doesn't actually do much in the plot) is generic cardboard heroic stuff, even with the addition of the Entity connection stuff in Chapter 19.

Granted, even though his personality is shown in the manga, we would have to expand on it if we make him speak. We would have to create something that isn't already here. But isn't this the very point of making a sequel in the first place? To put the characters in new, different situations than the ones they've already experienced? We expand a lot on Magus and Glenn; we could do the same with Crono and explore the human being that's hiding being the simple "hero" stereotype.

Also, Crono's silence completely nullifies one of the biggest difference between this game's Crono and CT's Crono: the fact that he's married with Marle. They're in love with each other, they form a couple, yet it doesn't really affect anything because of Crono's silence. If Crono were to speak, this "love" stuff wouldn't be an unwelcomed addition; on the contrary, as long as we keep the current epid mood and stay away from cliché, cutesy love-story stuff, this Crono/Marle detail would fit perfectly with the game's main theme of "reconciling differences" and "personal attachment", and Lavos's original loneliness and quest for knowledge.

Glenn

Glenn is secretly haunted with the feeling of having no place to call home. Indeed, he has been "lost" ever since 590 A.D. when his friend Cyrus died and he went into hiding in the wilderness as a mere frog-man. Then after the events of CT, due to King Zeal, he returned in an alternate 600 A.D. in which Cyrus was never a hero and the Mystic War still continues in 605 A.D., while people think he has delusional disorders due to his mumblings about the difference between his timeline and this alternate, Masamune-less timeline...

Most people accept Glenn overall since he does create the Vanguard (who aren't corrupted fascists until the future era), but a few still think his mind isn't exactly sane. Without the King's protection, people would have thought he was crazy when he appeared out of nowhere in 600 A.D. talking about the war being finished and Cyrus and himself being heroes, etc.

Kasmir

In the original timeline, Kasmir was killed early in the war (perhaps by the Hero Cyrus, though we don't need to specify) before he managed to master his illusory spells. In the modified timeline, Cyrus not-the-Hero died first and stuff changed so that Kasmir lived on and went to become Magus' successor.

Kasmir knows a spell that allows him to create illusions of himself. This way, tons of battles can have happened between 600 and 605, but everytime Kasmir was defeated it happened to be an illusion, while the real one has always remained safely away from the battlefields in his hidden fortress. Thus, in Chapter 4, it's also an illusion, and the real one is defeated only later in the game

Origin of Lavos

Lavos did not only evolve the human species, Lavos IS humanity. He represents the desire of evolution taken to an extreme. He wants to keep on evolving and improving himself continuously but too wildly: if we could ask him why he wants that, he'll probably have no answer to give. This is kind of the same thing for humans:

Kid: So that's Terra Tower's final, true form... In the end, we're all the same... Everyone dreams of bein' greater, more powerful...

They want self-improvement, scientific progress, etc., but where are they heading to with all this? The same question can be asked for the Reptites and every other living beings too, but the game will focus on humanity because they're the ones who got in contact with the Frozen Flame. In CC, the humans are compared to Lavos; throughout CE we could hint at the reverse, that Lavos can also be compared to humans. The original Lavoids would have originated on a planet in which humanity was so advanced, yet so selfish and destructive, that they evolved into Lavoids (this would take thousands of millennias of course). In addition to what we know of the Lavoid life cycle, the humans would also fit somewhere in there, being evolved by Lavoids, but also becoming Lavoids. The Chrono planet basically risks the same fate if the humans don't take more responsability in their free will. In a way, I guess this cycle is comparable to the Hindo-Buddhistic notion of Samsara, the wheel of perpetual reincarnations.

Now, about the Frozen Flame's origins. Its creation was actually accidental. In order to evolve, Lavos just has to slumber in the planet's core, he doesn't need anything else. However, a piece of his shell splintered by mere chance and remained on the surface. Lavos never wanted other beings to use the Flame's power, so he wanted to retrieve it.

Lavos succeeded in recovering the Flame in 12,000 B.C. in the original timeline, when he tricked Queen Zeal into setting forth the conditions of the Ocean Palace disaster (yes, this is an adaptation of DBoruta's theory, we'll have to thank him hugely). After retrieving the Flame, Lavos simply destroyed it, or something, because he already has similar powers to it. However, in Keystone T-1, the same attempt failed because of Crono's intervention (in Keystone T-2, the TTI-fied Lavos pulls Chronopolis back in time to try a second time to retrieve the Flame, but that's after CT:CE).

Yet, simultaneously to these attempts, and all the more after them, Lavos also communicates with the person possessing the Flame, if this person is fitting or special enough. This person would be the Arbiter of Time, someone Lavos discusses with and gives a chance to stop his never-ending quest for evolution, i.e. the mediator between Lavos and the planet's inhabitants. Lavos will, explicitly or not, interrogate him about the meaning of life and their purpose in the universe (Lavos's and the Arbiter's purpose, which is the same). Whether the Arbiter can answer those questions or not, he will eventually have to make a choice: either merge with Lavos and join him in his quest to find the answers, or refuse to do so and possibly remain alive if they're strong-minded enough, in which case Lavos will still destroy the planet sooner or later and continue his life cycle anyway. King Zeal and Schala were the latest Arbiters. There were a certain amount of Arbiters before them too, and whether they fused with Lavos or not, they all contributed to add to Lavos's sentience and knowledge of things (Lavoids are all sentient, but this particular Lavos is even more...cognizant thanks to his contact with the surface species; there is a bit of the "Reconciling differences" theme in here).

The last point is the defeat of Lavos in Chrono Trigger. This has viciously altered Lavos' perspective on the universe. Instead of wanting to seek some metaphysical knowledge, he has given up and began to wish for the destruction of all space-time instead. In CT:CE, King Zeal is the Arbiter of Time. He's supposed to have the choice to not fuse with Lavos, and hugely prefer a new Zeal Kingdom actually, but he eventually goes into the Darkness Beyond Time. Although believing his fate to be a dark one, he discovers there that Lavos's mind is ruined in agony, and he aims to merge with Lavos and take over the resulting being with his own will.

At the end of CC, Serge uses the Chrono Cross to "heal" the Time Devourer. Whether it answers Lavos' questions or not, we again don't know, but the liberated Schala does seem to have grasped something deep about the meaning of life. This interpretation explains a lot about Lavos, and gives him some personality, while still keeping the focus on humanity and the struggle of free will and fate, as it is in the rest of the series.

King Zeal

King Zeal is so strongwilled and determined that he isn't really absorbed by Lavos. Rather, it's Lavos who is absorbed by King Zeal, thus resulting in a new entity controlled by King Zeal, who doesn't want to devour space-time but return in the timeline to... create a supernatural empire and conquer the universe... recreate Zeal... or maybe resume Lavos's quest for the meaning of life. We don't find out.

This idea also kind of shifts, in the end, the feeling of "ultimate menace" from Lavos to King Zeal, so if it's implemented badly it could make Lavos looks too much like a wussy emo puppet while King Zeal would possibly seem too incredibly powerful. Yet, having the DD absorbed into King Zeal and fighting it would sort of neatly wraps up many story arcs of the game, since Schala but also Cedric the Executor are supposed to be part of that TD (though Cedric is just "felt", not seen since it happened long before Schala).

(Added 2010) King Zeal, back in the days of Zeal, was an ambitious but measured man. Like Zeal, his philosophy was rooted in humanism. He praised consciousness, sentience, emotions, and all realms of the human experience, and valued highly the pursuit of dreams. This made him a natural fit as King; the entire Kingdom of Zeal was possessed by a great spirit to learn and discover.

Post-death, King Zeal's philosophy has been considerably embittered by the discovery that Zeal fell because of Lavos, and that humanity never produced such a beautiful civilization thereafter. In Zeal, there was Kajar and Enhasa; Kajar hosted those who wished to discover and build in reality, and Enhasa hosted those who preferred to dream and explore those ethereal realms. But in the modern world, King Zeal found people to be dominated by pettiness and consumerist cares, with dreams of more grand material possessions or simple procreation. And worst of all, the highest ambition of Zeal had been demonized in legend as overdoing it.

King Zeal consequently viewed most of the rest of humanity not part of Zeal as inferior. They possessed inferior minds, inferior curiosities, inferior passions, and inferior dreams. This ethically rationalized manipulation of these people and his own arbitration of the timeline to revive the Dream of Zeal, which was in contrast to the modern world's mediocrity. On a personal level, he remained a consummate human, with voracious curiosities in new experiences and a desire to taste all the spice of life that the universe could offer. But post-death, he held a lot of anger towards the world for its mediocrity; for the fall of Zeal; for the wasting of humanity's potential.

Temporal Catch

It's an unnoticeable but huge energy field set up by Belthasar around Chronopolis and which pulls temporal strain on it, basically turning it into the "the space-time coordinates of least resistance". With it, Chronopolis effectively replaces the End of Time (except it's not in a Pocket Dimension), and thus all the Gates that should lead to the End of Time lead to Chronopolis instead.

This explains why the party always arrive in the time fortress when they use a Gate or break a Time Egg, and why they sometime do it with more than 3 peoples. When King Zeal rampages Chronopolis near the end of the game, the Temporal Catch is broken and this is why the party can go to rescue Gaspar. It's then repaired when the 3 Gurus return.

This thing indirectly foreshadow something huge about Chrono Cross. This doesn't really affect the plot, but this should be kept in mind when writing dialogues: by the end of the game, Belthasar indeed possesses:

Combine all these stuff and you get... yes, the Time Crash! The Temporal Catch diminished the "resistance" of Chronopolis' coordinates so much that it resulted in a permanent "hole"...

<Expanded Main Ending

If you did all the sidequests

So, that's an idea. It gives more closure to several points, including Crono and Marle. Instead of the passive feeling of having them remain in a time that doesn't need them, we have a more dynamic feeling and we know they're not that sad of leaving (think Sam Beckett in the last episode of Quantum Leap). This also draws a subtle parallel with the actual state of the Chrono series: a large part of the gaming world has moved on, but the series still lives on in some form.

The downside in that ending is that we jump around between many separate story arcs (Guardia, Crono/Marle, credits, Magus, Belthasar, and Gaspar/Crono/Marle). CC is a major common link between all these arcs though, and we could allow the player to walk in some of the cutscenes to let them see the ending at their own pace. What do you think?


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