Current work…writing scripts

For the last few months, on top of travelling and attending a bazillion courses, I’ve been writing.

I’ve written five short scripts in the world of THE 23RD LETTER. I’ve written two more in the world of STATUS: REFUGEE. I’ve written one horror script. And I’m looking at writing some scripts based on FRONTIER and QABAL very soon. And there’s one very special property that I would love to pitch to the BBC…

Two of my scripts are going into production in 2017 and I’ll be doing a “mobile phone” shoot of one of my scripts probably over the upcoming holidays.

So, all change.

The Aliens Are Coming

Stephen Hawking talks about how we should hide from aliens:

I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach. … If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.

At least until we get our own massive ships after looting the Earth for goodies and go out on the prowl.

This is the plot for “The War of the Worlds” after all. Just the distances may be many orders of magnitude greater.

Status: Refugee – Timeline

Here’s a snippet of some of the stuff I’m writing for Status: Refugee. It hasn’t been okay’ed by Aidan yet so details may change. But it should give you an idea of what we’re working on. I want to bring several themes on board: themes of salvation, themes of alienation, of being a stranger in a strange land, of being an immigrant in a new world of opportunity.

  1. 1998-07-17
    Astronomers take note of unusual stellar seismic reports from Barnard’s Star, a dim red dwarf in the Constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Holder — west of Cebalrai or Kelb al Rai (Beta Ophiuchi). Though ancient, Barnard’s Star had always experienced flare events, though this flare was twice as hot as the normal temperature of the star. This was not fully analysed until 2002 and the results not public until 2006.
  2. 2004-11-02
    Astronomers describe an object travelling at 12% of the speed of light entering the solar system. As it passes within the orbit of Saturn, it disappears. Due to lack of evidence, it was not reported to higher authorities.
  3. 2008-05-04
    First Contact. Humanoid simulacra of alien origin approach more than half of the world’s governments. They bring data, projections and propose a solution. Within a decade, they claim, the Earth will become a barren wasteland. All mammalian life on the planet will be extinguished. The seas will boil. The plants will burn. Life will continue on Earth, but it will not be human.
  4. 2008-05-06
    Leaked documents from the First Contact cause widespread panic across the world. Major cities experience riots, demonstrations and looting of businesses and personal homes. People start to hoard food and water, sunscreen sells out everywhere.
  5. 2010-09-15
    The North American Repatriation Act is passed into United States federal law.
  6. 2011-04-02
    Barnard’s Star explodes into a supernova. It will be six years before the effects are felt on Earth.
  7. 2015-07-04
    Official End of the United States of America as a nation.
  8. 2018-02-14
    Estimated date for first effects of the Barnard’s Star detonation to affect Earth’s biosphere.
    Gamma Rays induce a chemical reaction in the upper atmosphere, converting atmospheric nitrogen and depleting the ozone layer leaving the surface open to harmful solar and cosmic radiation.

So that’s it. In a decade we lose the greatest treasure we own: The Earth.

Status: Refugee – Perspective Selection

One thing that was bugging me about this game was that which we’ve discussed on a number of occasions about different games: scope. If you are playing refugees with only a small number of worlds available to you, the sheer scope for play is mind-boggling. This then probably requires either a lot of work on the part of the GM, or a lot of background information in the form of source books – or more likely both.

Reducing the character roles available (at least in the initial version of the game) would help give this game better focus. It occurred to me that having the players take on the role of police / enforcement would create a lot of interesting roleplaying situations. What happens when a group of refugees on a particular planet start getting angry at their conditions and decide to become militant? What if two large groups of refugees who had rivalries on Earth get transplanted to the same planet? … and so on.

Giving the focus to policing allows me as a game designer to focus on the things that are important to that sort of role. E.g. what are the laws in different alien societies, how many planets are there and how many humans to each, etc. I can more easily create rules of thumb for large numbers of planets, because I’m viewing them from a particular perspective.

For now, as I continue work on this game, I’m going to assume that the players are humans working for this agency. Expect to see some more background information and fictional snippets over the coming weeks.

Status: Refugee – A beginning

They repurposed I-90 into a massive people-processing line, putting you through checkpoint after checkpoint. This one for DNA scan, the next one for ID verification, the next for health assessment–the list seems endless. You stand under the afternoon sun, sweating (is the sun getting hotter already?), shuffling with the line and lugging your allocated 50 kilos of personal belongings that you quickly stuffed into a backpack.

Your first real glimpse of a K’toaran is when you get to the destination allocation desk. You’ve seen them on TV, but that’s different. Seeing one up close is kinda … freaky. You try not to stare at the big flat head–does this thing even have eyes?–as the big, sewage-colored alien silently offers you a token with one of its many hands. You take it and trundle on, a little shell-shocked. Maybe the extra hands are what make the K’toarans so efficient. Maybe the big head contains a really big brain. Or maybe it’s just because they seem to breathe out their ears.

You turn the colored token over in your hand. It’s made of a dull red metal and shaped like a house, and stamped in some language you can’t read. You shuffle off toward the next checkpoint. Not too far ahead of you, where the toll booths used to be, are the Bridges. It looks like someone built a Roman acqueduct across the highway and put a different world in every archway.

Last checkpoint.

Another K’toaran takes your chit and puts it in a brown blob that you assume is a computer. It spits out a wrist-band made of that same dull red metal which you strap on. The word “REFUGEE” is embossed on it in several languages, some of which you don’t recognise.

A warm, female voice comes out of the blob. “Please ensure you wear your wrist-band at all times. In addition to carrying all your identification and biological data, it maintains your credit balance and any other information needed by your adoptive government. Please follow the red line.”

Looking down at your feet you see a red line painted on the ground leading to one of the archways. As you approach, you can see a room through the Bridge, much like a waiting room at a hospital or a government office, with people sitting half-bored, half-expectant on moulded benches. You take a deep breath as you have one last look at the Boston skyline, then step through the Bridge to your new home.

On another planet.