Location, Location, Location.
by Gareth-Michael Skarka
January 23, 2001
I've been reading the other columns here on the Skotos site. I suspect you probably have, as well, so I don't think that I need to go into a long introduction about what they are and who writes them.
Now, one thing that was common to every column I read in the past week was the concept of constrainability. The idea of a singular location that is necessary for the function of an online game here at Skotos. Sam discussed "taking a chainsaw" to Horizon Station... bringing it down to a more manageable level of detail, for example. As I was reading, it become obvious that the three most important things in a Skotos game are: location, location and location.
Got me thinking again, about the overall structure of Arcana, and what setting or settings are appropriate.
Given the history-spanning nature of the game that I'm developing, I have decided (as I've mentioned before) that the initial forays will be Stages. Stand alone games with a beginning and an end, which will then be closed as a new stage, at a different location and in a different time, are opened.
The idea, as I've thought of it, is that each Stage would represent an incursion of the forces of Hell that the Arcana arrive at to combat. Once the incursion is put down, the story ends, and we move on to the next incursion.
Well, these work fine as a concept... but what about the setting?
As my fellow columnists have pointed out, the locations of a game have real impact on its playability and level of detail and enjoyment. So, what settings would be appropriate for this game, in its various Stages?
Here are some that I've been considering. The first Stage of Arcana will definitely be taken from this list. Each of these represents the location of an infernal influence of some sort.
A Small Balkan Village, late 1800s: This is pretty much the archetypal werewolf movie setting, and it works pretty damn well from the constrainability level as well. A small mountain town, complete with odd inhabitants, some of whom are secretly in the service of the Devil, and ALL of whom hold a healthy fear and hatred of werewolves... making it necessary for the Arcana to disguise their true nature, or face the ubiquitous torch-wielding mob.
A Secret Nazi Island Fortress, during WWII: It is a historical fact that there was a division of the Third Reich's SS that engaged in occult research and experimentation at the behest of Adolph Hitler. What if one of the secret locations of these experiments, say on a remote island in the Mediterranean, accidentally (or not so accidentally) unleashed the forces of Hell? The Arcana would have to battle the evil... both kinds.
An English Manor House (with surrounding lands), 1920s: A weekend soiree hosted by a scandalous, eccentric Lord. Some of the guests are secretly members of the Arcana. Some are secretly diabolist. What is planned for the partygoers? Does it have anything to do with the strange sounds that come from the basement? (Insert evil Vincent Price laugh here)
These are only the first few of a list of about a dozen settings that I've come up with... and, as I've said, I want to pick my first location from this list. I'll tell you what, though... let's open this up to the potential players: you guys. Post your comments about the three settings I've mentioned above, and suggest your own, as well. Who knows? Maybe one of you may hit upon a setting idea that we all love more than any that I have in mind!
We'll talk again soon. See ya in 7.