Thank you for signing up to the Æther Corp newsletter of which this is the first.
The aim is to send one out once a month, somewhere around the end of the second week, but we'll see how that pans out.
In the meantime...
Tone of Voice
I'd planned on opening this missive with a whole screed about tone of voice, how Æther Corp should have one, what kind of words the company could use, how Orchidelirium took a very formal tone to try to channel mid-19th century writings, how A Small Collection of Flowers & Entanglements really didn't and was fun to write because of it, and how I'm trying to split Coiled.Spæce into flavoursome corporate speak and strict procedural instruction (but keep wanting to mix the two) but I won't because I'm trying to save my elbows and arms from RSI.
Which I guess sets a tone of some sort. It might not have been all that interesting anyway.
What might be more interesting though are some thoughts about next year's ZineQuest project that I've started throwing around. Of course it might come to nothing but I felt like sharing the process anyway.
And that process is messy.
I tend to start by figuring out what kind of feeling I want the game to invoke and picture what it might look like, how a mechanic might appear but not necessarily how it impacts game play (if that makes sense).
What follows is pretty much just some sketchy notes which I plan to slowly build over the rest of the year, mostly in my time allotted to writing this newsletter and in my head out on walks.
So with no further ado. I present to you dear reader:
Cælia and the Mushroom Lord
IT'S A TRIP!
Everyone is Cælia (or Cæcil if you prefer), a 1" tall human that lives in the leaf mulch fiefdom with the small sentient forest dwellers. Their primary conflict is within themselves rather than their neighbours.
Each player represents a different aspect of Cælia's personality which will hopefully lead to some congenial PVP with die rolls to decide which emotion wins out in a particular situation and how that then manifests in the action that Cælia carries out.
The Mushroom Lord (or some other name for someone in charge, not entirely keen on Lord) is the main antagonist for this particular adventure and is both one mushroom and all mushrooms. Further adventures could add additional mechanics (Flying? Swimming?), locations (Tree tops? Bee hives? Rock pools?), and villains (Will'o the Wisp? Cantankerous Crab?).
Although not too villain-some - I don't think it's really going to be that kind of game. Think more frustrating to Cælia achieving their goal in a low key kind of way. I've been reading through Eurogames: The Design, Culture and Play of Modern Board Games and like the idea of a game whose focus isn't on beat up the nearest monster. Orchidelirium tried to avoid some of that but it's certainly still present (since it was at the time) so would be interesting to explore options for gentle yet interesting play.
Looks-wise I'm thinking a cross between 60s trippy vibe with spaced out rewords of art nouveau styles and children's flower fairy books.
I still like the idea of a central focal point (like Orchidelirium and Coiled.Spæce before it) with a table mat that players can either draw on or use tokens to show what's currently affecting Cælia's chances of success.
Maybe a mat with a spinning central circle. What would spin the circle? Perhaps it's split into quadrants that match up to playing card suits. Or something that can be drawn on over time making a set of constellations or pattern somehow.
I'd like the phases of the moon somehow to help convey a wondrous feeling of mundane magic (don't really want to get into spell lists though) and impact play, amplifying or limiting any effects that are applied. Perhaps being invoked as a last push.
Weather should really impact choices—rain is a lot more bothersome when it's effectively the size of a basketball and can attract worms, wind grabs, pulls, and drops things from a height, snow blankets, etc. All differ in strength and quantity. Perhaps only one seasonal weather variation per adventure.
Gnomes I feel should be dangerous but not sure if they mean to be or are just a bit daft. Dandelions should scream. Butterflies and snails can be ridden but carry risk. Birds are conniving and gossipy. Beware hedgehogs.
Possible randomisers currently include the standards, playing cards (suits to change play, value to give a target number to roll?) and dice (perhaps limited to one type like d4s or d12s or add up to 12 like 3d4 / 2d6 / d4+d8 / d12), but I'd also like to see if there's a way to limit their use and still have some variance in how the world responds to player decisions.
Solo play should be possible and adventures should be possible to generate on the fly from random tables.
Random tables should be usable on their own so the setting can be separated from the mechanics should players want to use with their favourite elf game.
So that's where all that's at. Hopefully it'll become a bit clearer and well-defined over the next few months but most of my focus is going to be on Coiled.Spæce so we'll see...
That pretty much wraps up this for now.
Till next time,