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Subject: [WIP] Alternis, Indiana — every town has its secrets rss

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David Somerville
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Hey! I'm David Somerville, the creator of Vast: The Crystal Caverns ... well, co-creator. This forum was utterly instrumental in shaping that game, so I'm back to ask for your input on my new project:

Alternis, Indiana.

The game is about the otherworldly secrets of a small town, built of a 6x6 grid of location cards (featuring either residential neighborhoods or buildings such as "the school," "the mechanic," or "town hall"). Hidden within this town are portals to another world, which can only be discovered if you know exactly where to look.

I've described the game as a mashup of Stranger Things, Pan's Labyrinth, Dead of Winter, and the writings of George MacDonald. So, if you like any of those things, keep reading.

1–4 players will take on the role of beings who look appear human, but are actually eerie beings from another world. (These beings are still to be named, I need your help with that!) In fact, all but three of the people inhabiting the town are otherworldly creatures in disguise. Your job is to find those three true humans and recruit them to help stop a world-ending infectious curse called The Blight, which is spreading from the portals hidden throughout the town!

If that sounds stupidly convoluted, it's probably because it is. This is early in the lore-writing and brainstorming phase, but I wanted to start sharing it as soon as possible to get your eyes and thoughts on it.

Before I blather on too nonsensically for too long, this might be useful—here's a livestream I did of a very rough playtest... if you have the time and inclination, that might be the best way to get a sense of what I'm talking about: https://twitter.com/geekrvl/status/763539808597708804

And here are some images of the prototype so far (so you can get a sense of just how early we are here):








For those who have stuck with me so far (and possibly checked out the livestream mentioned above), I'd love your initial impressions of the game. Does this seem interesting? Unique? Is it too much like anything that already exists? And what should I call my otherworldly not-quite-fairies-not-quite-aliens-not-quite-ghost creatures?

Please disregard "Spooks" as a suggestion. I was unaware of potential racial connotations and will NOT be calling them that.

Poll
What should I call the otherworldly beings in Alternis, Indiana?
The Fey
The Spooks
The Alt
The Fairies
The Creepies
Something else (I'll post my suggestion because I'm awesome)
      99 answers
Poll created by smrvl

All in all, I'd be grateful for any impressions you have of the game as it currently exists—and I'd love to keep anyone interested posted on its progress as I try and see if there's a real game to be carved out of this mess.

Thank you!
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Wills Trevor
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We already talked on the phone earlier and even though I'm wrapped up in thinking about my design still thinking of the story yours tells. I like Spooks best but think there might be something better and more original.
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David Somerville
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MrTWills wrote:
We already talked on the phone earlier and even though I'm wrapped up in thinking about my design still thinking of the story yours tells. I like Spooks best but think there might be something better and more original.

I'm glad the story has its hooks in you! Spooks is a good one. My only
concern is, is it too "CIA?" Maybe, maybe not.
 
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Andrew J.
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Because of George MacDonald I'd say fairies, or faeries if you wanted to be creative.

I'm definitely intrigued, keep us posted!
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David Somerville
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aaj94 wrote:
Because of George MacDonald I'd say fairies, or faeries if you wanted to be creative.

I'm definitely intrigued, keep us posted!

Awesome, I definitely will! Thanks for checking it out.
 
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Keith Pishnery
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Hi David,
Anxious to try Vast and I'm intrigued by this new idea of yours. On the surface, it's a rich theme. One thing that sticks out to me, though, is that I'm bewildered as to why the town only has 3 true humans and that they need to be recruited? If you want to make it a story of recruiting humans from a town, perhaps it would be interesting to have some random element at the beginning of the game that selects which human residents of the town are the most receptive to helping your other beings. This makes the setting a bit more in the realm of this type of story, highlighting a select group of humans to help the beings.
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Caryl Tan
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kpishnery wrote:
Hi David,
Anxious to try Vast and I'm intrigued by this new idea of yours. On the surface, it's a rich theme. One thing that sticks out to me, though, is that I'm bewildered as to why the town only has 3 true humans and that they need to be recruited? If you want to make it a story of recruiting humans from a town, perhaps it would be interesting to have some random element at the beginning of the game that selects which human residents of the town are the most receptive to helping your other beings. This makes the setting a bit more in the realm of this type of story, highlighting a select group of humans to help the beings.


You truly are a mad scientist of ideas, David! I gotta agree with this though. Recruiting the only humans over the otherworldly creatures doesn't quite have a reason? I'd like to ask the following

1. Are all of the otherworldly creatures (including the players) from the same or different worlds?
2. If you're a creature from another world, why do you even care about the Blight affecting the human world?
3. How did those portals even open to begin with?
4. Why are the creatures in disguise?
5. Why is there only three true humans?

I do love the idea and see what you mean about it almost being like forbidden desert! I definitely think story can be fleshed out and these are just the burning questions i have off the top of my head looking forward to hearing more!
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Giller
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I voted for the Fey as it is the best in the list and I can't think of any other name. I also would recommend against Spooks because of racial connotations.
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Mark Griffin
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You obviously don't mean it that way, but spook is also an old timey racial slur. Probably a good idea to avoid it.
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David Somerville
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Vospire wrote:
I also would recommend against Spooks because of racial connotations.

sphere6 wrote:
You obviously don't mean it that way, but spook is also an old timey racial slur. Probably a good idea to avoid it.

YiiIIIIiiiIIiiikes, THANK YOU for letting me know!! I had no idea. Spooks is officially out.
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Alexander Ord
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The best I've thought of so far is The Spectrals. Sounds mysterious but maybe too ghostly.
Regardless, liking the sounds of things so far. Hearing good things about Vast (and looking forward to my backer copy!) so I know you guys will nail this one.
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David Somerville
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Sounds like it would be good for me to go ahead and get into the lore of the game! I'm rushing for a deadline now, but I'll post something a little later about what's happening here and why, from a backstory perspective. I'd love your help in thinking through it!
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Felix
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Oh wow this looks very interesting! And now my head is spinning with names. But I guess from the given ones I like Fey the most... Although maybe something new/less conventional might be nice, too? Some ideas others may ignore or comment on: The Veyl, The Twice, Gestalten, Wunder, Shades. (You asked for ideas!)

I'm sorry for just dumping a few names here but I just got off work and my brain is still in productive mode and I won't calm down before I get my ideas out there

I love the idea so far and the prototype looks intriguing! Have fun with the project!
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Jonneh
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daskre wrote:
Some ideas others may ignore or comment on: The Veyl, The Twice, Gestalten, Wunder, Shades. (You asked for ideas!)


I like The Veyl and Gestalten personally. My suggestion is perhaps Otherkind or something off the paranormal.

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Charlie Ringer
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Some name ideas:

The Others
The Beings
The Unknowns
The Celestials
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Aubrey W
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My suggestions:
The Somber (obviously a play on your name)
The Vlesh
The Ir

Subscribed and watching the livestream now. I'll be back!

Edit:
Ok, now that I've watching the stream. I like what you have so far. Some thoughts:

- Obviously you're working on this (as you said in the video) but possibly losing based on needing to roll a 6 its... meh at best. I'd be annoyed if I played a game for a few hours and lost because I didn't roll a 6. If I understood the alternative you mentioned correctly (all the humans sacrifice themselves) but one of the humans dies (like your cheerleader in turn 1) you're back to a die roll ending the game. I think it makes more sense to pre-determine the heir or say if the first 2 fail the 3rd one automatically is, though that falls apart too if humans have died.

- What happens if you search all 4 neighborhoods at an intersection known to contain a portal and all the rolls fail? If the 1st 3 fail is the 4th one automatically the location? You probably also need some markers for a failed search in case multiple players are looking you can keep track of where has been searched.

- I do like the "jump to a building of their type in that direction" idea. Helps prevent clustering of characters on the board and gives the players a sense of where they can go instead of wandering around aimlessly looking for someone.

- For selecting which townspeople to move, if all the influence values are 1-6 you could just roll 1d6 and move all the people of that value

- That's all I can think of now. Its (understandably) hard to follow and a lot to absorb currently so I'll give the stream another watch to see what I pick up on that I missed the first go around.
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Josh Steenoven
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What about The strange?
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Eric Sanson

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Since they are eerie beings how about...The Eeries?

I didn't have time to watch the whole playthrough at lunch but I will finish it tonight. Seems like a cool concept and I'm very excited about getting Vast soon-ish!

Keep doing what you're doing!

ES
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Jonneh
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Its too much of a mouthful, but I'm also partial to "Those Who Walk Amongst Us" TWWAU? hahaha
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Kevin Binswanger
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Is this cooperative or competitive?

I'd wonder why the townsfolk don't just all admit they're aliens and have the humans come forward and save themselves. Or is that the Blight affects the *aliens* and maybe the cure isn't so nice to the humans?
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Jim Parkin
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Juan Tran
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The Obscurio

Edit:
The Sombra
The Tenebris
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David Somerville
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(Just dropping in REAL quick here to say THANK YOU to everyone who's jumping into the conversation. I'm on deadline at work, but I'mma respond real soon and I'm delighted you're checking out the idea and helping me figure this stuff out! )
 
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Aubrey W
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t3hjonneh wrote:
Its too much of a mouthful, but I'm also partial to "Those Who Walk Amongst Us" TWWAU? hahaha


Or "They Are Among Us" - TAAU pronounced like the first syllable of "towel" or maybe "Those Among Us" - TAU pronounced the same.
 
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Jim Parkin
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dozure wrote:
t3hjonneh wrote:
Its too much of a mouthful, but I'm also partial to "Those Who Walk Amongst Us" TWWAU? hahaha


Or "They Are Among Us" - TAAU pronounced like the first syllable of "towel" or maybe "Those Among Us" - TAU pronounced the same.

TAU in this context is my favorite suggestion thus far by a long shot.
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