Monday, December 28, 2015

Openers and Closers

Twenty two years ago, Roger Zelazney wrote his final book, called A Night In the Lonesome October. The book casts some of the West's most classic monsters as players in a cosmic Game to either open to door for the Elder Gods to pave over our world and construct a new one, or to shut the door and keep the world like it is.

The Game takes place over the month of October, with the players arriving and spending the month getting ready for the ritual at the end of the month. This includes gathering items of power, performing ritual sacrifices, collecting herbs, and of course surreptitiously sabotaging one another. Membership in the two sides--the Openers and the Closers--is kept secret for much of the month. Players find that knowing who the others are inspires sabotage, whereas anonymity breeds cooperation.

Players construct a home base where they perform their ministrations. The book's hero, Snuff, together with his master, Jack, collect monsters to serve as body guards during the final rituals in the game, gather body parts from the cemetery and weirdly specific items from town (a scrap of a green dress stolen from a woman with red hair). These home bases also figure into a complex piece of calculus for the location of the Game's ritual, at the center of which an altar must be placed.

This sounds like a really interesting video game! A team game where, for much of the match, you don't really know who your teammates are. Perhaps each player selects the side they're on. Then they're given tasks and strengths and weaknesses. Your character can't do every task on their own, so you have to collaborate, but someone who can help you out might work for the opposite faction, so you have to keep it secret. 
So I envision a game going like this. You're given a side: openers or closers, and a series of tasks. You awaken on a map, and must select your home base, and set about defending it while completing your tasks. You investigate your neighbors to determine whether or not they're allies, if they can help you with your task or not. You might build trust with people, trading information on third parties. Or you might just try to poison everybody and take all the glory for yourself.

I picture a game that is full of secret monsters, spells and traps. A combination of a Lovecraft fantasy story, Assassin's Creed multiplayer mode, and a team based objective game.

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