I really want to get Crossing Worlds out. I have handwritten notes for everything I need to write.
I also am really sick of writing. Whenever I try to translate the notes to fully formed sentences, my brain switches into neutral and refuses to budge.
I decided to fall back on my very first writing strategy: using art to push forward. The first full story I ever finished writing (back sometime in like 3rd/4th grade, probably 20 pages total) relied on a very simple technique. I found a picture I liked in the Word Processor, pasted it into the doc, then wrote more of the story inspired by that image. It started with a unicorn, went to a pony, and finished with a jungle (with a fire, cart, cat, and parrot in between).
Turns out that strategy still somewhat works for me.
Simple as it may seem, creating that image helped me write a little more in the new chapter on magic.
The stories say we sit in the middle of three worlds. The under world is a place of chaos; everything is changing, crashing, reversing what we know. The above world is a place of order; everything is consistent, harmonious, and predictable. We sit in the middle world, where chaos and order mix. We are the world of balance, that constant line of tension caught between two equal weights.
The Travex Multinational Corporation has verified the existence of alternate dimensions. Supposedly these places appear identical to our own, each with a slight deviation. Early research suggests that these dimensions have their own forms of life. The Planetborn call them Kith, their relations. However, it seems more likely they are artificial life created by the infection in the terraform tech. Similar to animals, they respond favorably to inducements. The trouble is, they seem to want the most bizarre items for food. One creature became compliant when given an oak seedling; another preferred to hear a song. Our team is currently performing a systematic study of inducements to determine the most appealing. Perhaps by understanding this mutation, we will learn more about the disease plaguing this planet.
Planet of Crossroads
While all probes labeled the planet an inhospitable gas world before the terraforming operations, life existed before the colonies. The planet served as the home for the Source, an omnipresent, intangible being connected to every aspect of planet life. It also served as the nexus for a cluster of dimensions with beings of their own. When terraforming began, it reshaped the planet's form, but did not destroy this original essence.
The Colonists discovered the Source's presence early; it spoke to them, teaching them how to best survive. Eventually, it introduced them to the life forms of the other dimensions. The humans named them Kith, because they looked like humans, except slightly different. Every Kith is humanoid, but with two distinct differences from humans. Some have leaves instead of hair and bark-like skin; others are palm sized with pointed ears; still others always appear as elderly but with metallic silver hair and some animal feature like slitted cat eyes.
Most of the Kith are collaborative. Some took the role of guardians, protecting the early colonists from hostile wild life or human violence. Others took the role of entertainers, always ready to pull a prank or cast a ridiculous spell to make others laugh. Every group of Kith appeared to have a preferred way of relating with humans.
As barriers between the dimensions faded more, the humans learned about two other types of Kith. These groups unnerved many, and the multicorps were pressured into rebuilding the walls between dimensions.
The Planetborn learned that when someone dies on the planet, they can cross over to the dimension of the above world. They appear as themselves, with the small changes indicative of the Kith: a loved one might grow unusually tall and gain wings, or their coloring might faded to a monochrome gray, or their voice might changes to ring with extra resonance. While the Source taught that time—and thus life—is a continual cycle, many Planetborn found these Kith unnerving. They named them the Afterlights. While some continued to speak with their dead kin, many advocated for firm boundaries against that dimension.
When the Blood Fever decimated the planet, the path to the above world was lost in the chaos. Some continue to feel the presence of the Afterlights, but many view those stories as old superstition.
The Planetborn learned of dangerous subset of Kith they named the Dread. These Kith feed off fear, and invest their time in generating as much fear as possible among the humans. More than any Kith, the Dread adopt a physical form when they enter the middle world. They mimic shapes they see in the world, switching easily between copying humans to copying animals. They use envy, greed, and anger to stir up conflict that leaves the humans shaking, and generating that precious terror. They fed well during the Blood Fever epidemic.
The colony barrier was erected largely to limit the power of the Dread, (not that the Overseers would ever admit as much). Outside the barrier, the Dread can manipulate thoughts and perceptions to create terror-inducing hallucinations. Inside the barrier, they are restricted to the discord they can sow while in physical form.
While many traditions of the Planetborn have become more obscure over the quarantine generations, horror stories about the Dread persist. Every year at least a few people are murdered out of suspicion they are one of these Kith mimics.
This blog is a mix of game design analysis, commentary on issues affecting indie dev spaces, and some personal reflections.