Page 1

1

SIRA Story Bible

Š Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


2

Table of Contents Story Overview History Setting Setup Plot Methodology History The Universe X-Matter Calamity Earth: Before Calamity Solar Power Liquid Light Fuel & Distilleries Robotics Cyber-Ecosystems Earth: First Calamity Heatwave Meteor Shower New Trinity Phase I: Pillars of the Earth Phase II: Diamonds in the Sky Phase III: Stairway to Heaven Earth: Second Calamity Beautiful Sunfields Diamond Ring Save The World EC-404 Setting North America The Burrowing Day and Night The Solaris Kin Messiah Kin Message Method Sunsuit Temple Insignia Resistance War Setup Š Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


3 The Family The Fury The False Sun The Runner The Mission Plot Extended Summary Prologue Act I Act II Epilogue Post-Epilogue Cast Lead Characters The Hunter The Runner Messiah Support Characters The Kinsman Joan Rupert Gideon Frederick Reinhardt Mary-Beth Ben PRO_GRAMMAR Methodology Three Arcs Hope VS Despair: A Battle For Everyone’s Souls Techniques Promotional Synopses 150 Words (version 2.1) 100 Words (version 2.1) 75 Words (version 2.1) AFWAP 35 Words (version 2.1) Fodder for Sequels

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


4

Story Overview In a time in the future when humankind has been driven to the brink of extinction by a solar apocalypse, a Hunter chases an elusive Runner through a desolate city immersed in lethal sunlight, and discovers fragments of the world’s tragic fate while also realizing his own.

History In the next several centuries, human civilization undergoes a few key transformations which make real our Utopian fantasies: solar power becomes the sole source of energy, Liquid Light fuel acts as a catalyst for technological growth, and robots become commonplace. But a supernova from the constellation Draco catapults into our galaxy and changes everything.

Setting When a mutating sun begins scorching the earth, almost all life is extinguished by the merciless heat. Yet, across the barren wastelands and empty automated cities, a final conflict quietly rages in the shade. The remnants of humanity stand divided in uncivil war between a zealous prophet’s militia of followers, and the scattered, paranoid rebels opposing his message.

Setup In the early days of the cult, a defiant family of three is taken into custody and moved to a holding facility to await ritual sacrifice. During transport, the son triggers a bomb that kills all the soldiers, as intended, but also the mother. The surviving father salvages pieces of the soldiers’ rare Sunsuits for himself and vanishes into the nearby city of New Washington. Some weeks later, Messiah receives a report of these events and sends someone after him.

Plot Far away from the front lines of war, the Hunter arrives on an empty train in the heart of dead capital, on a mission to recapture the Runner who escaped custody. The Hunter’s only compass in the droid-filled, sunlit cityscape is Messiah’s fearsome rhetoric. Along the way, he finds old recordings left from a time of hope, which form a mosaic of the world’s tragic fate. The chase intensifies when the Hunter and his mark meet, and culminates when he corners the Runner and they face off.

Methodology The game’s story is comprised of three plot lines. The main arc is the hunt, or the struggle between the Hunter and the Runner. The first sub-plot traces the hopeful origins of the world’s apocalypse, while the second deals with Messiah’s teachings and interpretations of the present and future. The narrative is mainly told through audio logs and monologues derived from a remembered sermon, and supported by a few key cutscenes.

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


5

History The fictional world of Sira builds upon our present timeline and extrapolates centuries into its future, right up to around the 2600’s. All historical events that are true for us are true in the game as well, though it may occasionally ‘get creative’ with the laws of physics.

The Universe The vastness of the Universe is something that no human mind could ever fully comprehend. The infinite reaches of space are home to matter, energy, and cataclysmic events of which we may perhaps only see the tiniest fraction. For all the black holes, dark energy, galactic collisions, and dimensional tearing we theorize, little is ever really known about the events leading up to the Calamities of the 27th Century.

X-Matter In the dark recesses of the Draco constellation, dozens of light years away, an ancient star collapses under its own gravity and releases a brilliant supernova. The resultant burst of radiation, along with the outer layers expelled from the star, scatter in all directions. Yet even with the exact circumstances unknown, this cosmic event proves unlike any other. In typical supernovae, the shock wave of material is absorbed into the interstellar medium, while the radiation continues traveling through the void. But in this case, the material cast off from the star keeps moving, transcending galactic boundaries hand in hand with the radiation. This exotic matter—a substance never before seen on Earth—is traveling near the speed of light. Scientists would later endow this substance with the simple name “X-Matter.”

Calamity As X-Matter spreads across Draco and beyond—the sphere of impact losing material density the further it expands—some of it reaches Earth’s galaxy and inevitably enters the Sun. This initiates a chain reaction that at first is invisible. The Sun appears to burn the hydrogen fuel at its core via thermonuclear fusion as always. As a main sequence star, the Sun is of the stellar classification, ‘yellow dwarf’, and though continually evolving as it uses up hydrogen, it will only fully become a ‘red giant’ after another 5 billion years. At least, that used to be the case. Now however, the entire process is fundamentally altered. The specifics are half-known at best, defiant of reason at worst, and inevitably too farreaching to explain. But in essence, with the introduction of X-Matter, the lifespan of the Sun is drastically cut short. Without increasing the Sun’s energy output beyond what is expected from the course of its natural stellar growth, X-Matter has exponentially increased the rate at which its hydrogen is being converted, thereby condensing its evolutionary lifecycle. Changes which should take hundreds of millions of years are now happening in mere years. In other words, the Sun is growing older and larger, fast. With the death of the Sun imminent, so too is the fated end of Earth brought to humanity’s doorstep. This change is what is later known as the First Calamity.

Earth: Before Calamity © Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


6 In the centuries before the shock wave from Constellation Draco reaches our galaxy, human civilization continues to make extraordinary advances. Changes to the socioeconomic and political sectors of the world are at times drastic, and at others superfluous; some are for the better, and some are for the worse. Borders change little. And yet all of it is wiped away in the 27th Century (thus making it entirely irrelevant to the game). However, the most evident advancements of them all—and the only ones that endure— are in energy, and its neighbor, technology. Solar Power Sometime between now and the end of the world, many people in their respective industries and seats of power wake the fuck up to just how much energy the Sun is pouring over our heads on Earth. Whether it is an inexplicable epiphany, or due to the fact that there are only drops of oil and gas left to harvest, is uncertain. Replacing and indeed entirely obsolescing fossil fuels, solar energy becomes the world’s primary source of power. Since solar radiation is capable of supplying more petaWatts to us per year than the sum of all the energy we have ever derived from oil, coal, gas, and uranium combined, the resultant surplus of energy poses to a us a simple question: what do we do with all of it? For a time, much of the energy remains simply unused. The supply far exceeds the demand, soon calling for a way to store all that power. Thus, a branch of electrochemical engineering forms whose main concern is the conversion of radiation from the Sun into storable energy. It isn’t too long before their research bears fruit. Liquid Light Fuel & Distilleries A pivotal moment during this time is the invention of a type of synthetic fuel that bonds extremely high amounts of energy into a stable state. The substance, which appears as a phosphorous liquid that emits a low golden light, is so dense that one drop can power an automobile for an entire day. Warm to the touch, it is the very essence of the Sun. And it replaces everything—from alkaline batteries to gasoline. Soon, everything runs on solar gold. The name given to this wondrous fuel is simply “Liquid Light.” A popular household addition is the LL Distillery: a charging station wired to roofinstalled solar panels that synthesizes Liquid Light and fills battery-sized capsules with it. These come in many sizes, and are used to power all manner of portable devices. Robotics Industries flourish. Experimentation in all fields gains a new level of carelessness in terms of using energy, and though accidents are abound for a while, the progress made far surpasses it. With the miniaturization principles of Japan spread across the globe as well, everything from music players to portable computers increase in power and efficiency. Imagine: laptop computers that can run for days on maximum output without charge. In tandem with the advancements in processing power, the field of robotics finally takes off and makes real many of fictions’ predictions. Gradually, robots become more and more of a common sight until you just can’t turn anywhere without seeing one. Directing traffic, taking coats, making beds and sweeping floors, droids become fixtures of everyday life.

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


7 With inanimates available to use for construction (needing neither pay nor rest), cities all over undergo extreme ‘face lifts.’ The horizons are forever changed. Our comparatively ancient citadels miraculously graduate into the Utopias of our dreams. Cyber-Ecosystems With the numbers of droids produced reaching millions, there arises a need to design and install an infrastructure for their power supply. So, a hierarchy is created resembling a food chain. At the bottom are the solar fields outside the city and solar-panel hubs atop many buildings, the latter of which are called hives. The next tier are the power supply drones, which receive their LL and distribute it among the city’s droids. Some establishments prefer their own methods of dispersal. These put in orders to the city for bulk supply and use privately-owned hubs and distribution systems to divvy it up. Funnily enough, everything begins to look a bit more like a drug distribution system than a food chain. This infrastructure is referred to as a city’s “Cyber-Ecosystem.”

Earth: First Calamity Amidst all this progress is when the wave of light and matter from Draco reaches our galaxy, enters the Sun, and lights up the skies of Earth. On Earth, the event is perceived merely as a typical supernova paired with a meteor shower soon after. Nothing is out of the ordinary. The citizens of the world gaze at the celestial beauty as nothing more than a romantic occasion in the Springtime, and a reminder of how lucky they are to be alive. No one knows just how true those words are. Heatwave By the Summer, scientists are able to detect an alarming increase in the Sun’s luminosity and the rise of Earth’s surface temperature caused by it. And although in the decimals, the numbers keep rising. Not long after this, the nature of the Sun’s rapid evolution is discovered. The heatwave is nothing significant, but it eventually will become unbearable. Rumors spread that the world’s fate is now much more precarious. The planet’s future has always depended largely on what happened to the Sun, and the outcome predicted since before the 2000’s remains unchanged: when the Sun grows old and becomes a red giant, it will expand as far as our orbit and due to tidal interactions, it will absorb and vaporize the Earth. Having initially been kept under wraps, all the red tape regarding the Sun’s mutation is eventually lifted when the world’s governments reveal the truth to their people. Naturally though, the announcement is never intended nor seen as a white flag. Meteor Shower It is a great number of meteor rocks that reach Earth’s surface from Draco, and a large majority of them wind up in the hands of civilians. Authorities first issue a confiscation order for safety reasons. But a subsequent investigation of this X-Matter shows that it poses no threat. Its molecular structure is rather peculiar and the material possesses a very unique coloring, but it is discovered that its strange effects only begin occurring with prolonged exposure to extremely high-energy reactions. Since civilians have no access to such means, they are left in the hands of the people, where they become commodity jewelry items.

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


8 What these reactions specifically are is TBD. In case of a sequel, this can be retconned to fit any number of directions the plot can go.

New Trinity Government-funded science organizations are at somewhat of a loss. After the government’s revelation about the Sun, it is the experimental scientists in the community that step forth with a myriad of ideas on how to combat the effects of the First Calamity. Then, an international Committee is formed to sort through these proposals and come to a worldwide agreement as to how to save the world. The different approaches cover the entire spectrum of solutions. Some involve studying X-Matter as a way of reversing the Sun’s rapid aging, while others propose an escape plan for humankind. Of the thousands upon thousands of submissions, one plan involving three phases is unanimously selected to be funded, staffed, and executed. It undergoes some changes during the selection process, but all is for the better. With hundreds of teams all over the world consisting of hundreds of the world’s brightest, the united efforts of mankind to save itself from destruction quickly crystallize. Hope is not dead. This international world-saving initiative is dubbed “Project: New Trinity.” Phase I: Pillars of the Earth

The first phase focuses the team’s manpower on installing many, many fields of hyperabsorbent solar panels across the face of the Earth, where radiation is converted into Liquid Light fuel and stored in subterranean reservoirs. Grass plains, mountain regions, desert areas— much of what was previously unused land is covered with these Sunfields to maximize the harvest. The goal: to amass a near-unimaginable amount of energy. As a bridge between phase I and phase II, an additional set of plans is drafted. Separate from the Sunfields, special receivers are to be constructed and used to harness power from concentrated beams of solar radiation. These glass-like structures appear as a series of columns surrounding a single looming tower in the middle, and are called Light Basins, and provide even more LL fuel for New Trinity’s quota. The special alloy it is made of renders it capable of remaining cool even while withstanding the intense heat. When the reservoirs of the Sunfields and Light Basins are filled, convoys go out to collect the fuel and deliver it to restricted government facilities for storage. Because each harvest signals progress, harvest season becomes a happy time for all. Phase II: Diamonds in the Sky

Occurring simultaneously with phase I, the second phase is where seven gigantic mirror-like satellites are installed in outer space, almost a million miles away from Earth in the direction of the Sun. Technically, of course, these aren’t really satellites because they are beyond Earth’s gravitational field. They do however move with the Earth (via jet propulsion), always remaining between it and the Sun. Due to their size, these satellites have to be launched in sections, later to auto-assemble at their final position in space. Droids are sent along to help with construction. The goal is the same: to meet a certain quota of energy. Using an arrangement of lenses and mirrors, these Diamonds condense a wide area of solar radiation into a concentrated beam and then accurately direct these to the Light Basins built in phase I. A total of seven Diamonds is to be constructed, each shifting its beam from one © Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


9 Light Basin to another as the world turns. During each directional shift, the Diamond ceases to take in radiation so as to avoid burning across a country. An auto-targeting mechanism is programmed into the Diamonds’ A.I. that handles Diamond-to-Pillar detection. Essentially, the two devices communicate before they initiate the transfer of energy. Phase III: Stairway to Heaven

Dubbed the linchpin of New Trinity, the third phase contains the very reason for the unimaginable amounts of energy being collected. However, in contrast to the government’s previous openness about the first two phases, “Stairway” is kept entirely under wraps. Even general summaries of this phase are need-to-know. In short, the goal and status of phase III remains a mystery to this very day. Varied speculation can only agree on one thing: the survival of the human race hinges upon the successful completion of “Stairway to Heaven.” In the event that a sequel is made, this can also be retconned to fit whatever sort of plot that will be pursued.

Earth: Second Calamity But the course of love never did run smooth... Beautiful Sunfields One of the changes the Committee insists upon in New Trinity’s original proposal is the design of the Sunfields. Initially, the scientists planned to have the fields laid out in simple square grids, all panels evenly spaced. This is altered in favor of a more aesthetic approach to embody a sense of hope. The Committee underscores the importance of maintaining morale amongst the people in light of the rather morbid circumstances. To this end, different artists are consulted for each Sunfield to devise unique compositions for them, utilizing all those principles that students learn in art school: shape/form, rhythm & repetition, visual texture, and so on. Thus, these instruments of mankind’s survival also become uplifting works of art. After a few months, Phase I finishes ahead of schedule, thanks to the efforts of New Trinity’s team. The Sunfields become somewhat of a spectacle. During the day, the panels turn black to absorb as much light and radiation from the Sun as possible. Through their unique arrangements, they also form wondrous, abstract shapes across the land. At night when incoming energy is low, the panels shift into standby mode and effectively become mirrors, reflecting the dotted lights of the starry skies above on the plains below. The Committee’s intentions ultimately succeed; people are readily provided with a distraction from the First Calamity, in the form of a rather quaint and romantic piece of scenery. Diamond Ring Meanwhile, other teams continue to build the sections of the lens satellites of phase II, launching them one by one as they are completed. The sophisticated self-assembly A.I. is what allows this method of modular stellar construction. And everything runs smoothly. The building of the Diamonds is no easy task however, and coalitions between nations have to form to meet New Trinity’s deadlines. The seven satellites are divided as follows: the

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


10 North American Diamond (1), the South American Diamond (1), the Diamonds of Western & Eastern Europe (2), and the Diamonds of Asia & Australasia (3). Development varies between the jurisdictions. North America (whose team is headed by the United States and Canada) leads the way with the first launch of a Diamond section, as well as with the first Diamond to be completed. However, the second Diamond of Asia (headed by Japan and the United Korean Republic) has the shortest development time between first launch and completed assembly, all in all finishing second after North America. The formation assumed by the Diamonds in space is that of a ring, which from Earth would appear as seven bright stars surrounding the Sun (relative to one’s position on the planet, time of day, etc.) But since the Diamonds only reflect light and radiation to the precise location of Light Basins, the visible light from these satellites is often very dim, on account of only incidental light from the Sun bouncing off the rim/fringes to Earth. It would be different if, say, their ocular components were set to reflect unfocused radiation to all the world... Save The World With the incredible anticipation building up during the ongoing progress of phase II, it becomes a popular topic of conversation. The project itself is not without its delays, and no solid date of full completion is given. That is, until all but one Diamond is fully assembled in space. Then someone has an idea: “Let’s throw a huge party!” And the idea spreads. More and more people plan to celebrate the moment that all seven Diamonds are installed and fully operational. TV Specials are created identical to the New Years events we see today annually. Parades are coordinated. The only difference is that where on New Years, our fireworks go off at the stroke of midnight in our own timezones, the countdown to the completion of New Trinity’s “Diamonds in the Sky” is in sync everywhere. At the climax of their respective ‘Save The World’ Parties, people everywhere will be united in the exact same moment of celebration, spilling out onto the streets to watch the fireworks. The fated night finally arrives. The countdown begins. “5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Save the Wooooorld!” everyone shouts. Part two of New Trinity is a success. Life is wonderful. It is the single happiest, most hopeful hour humankind has and will ever see. EC-404 The very next day is the day of the Second Calamity. An unknown malfunction not only disrupts communications between the New Trinity Monitoring Stations and the seven Diamonds, but it also interferes with the programming of the Diamonds themselves. The message that shows on all monitors: Error Code 404. The exact nature of this malfunction is left ambiguous also for some room for maneuvering in case of future installments. It could be anything from a pure accident of human error, to a conscious terrorist attack on all of humankind.

As a result, four of the Diamonds lose their ocular functionality and begin reflecting unfocused radiation from the Sun right to Earth. The remaining three Diamonds retain this function, but suffer damage to their targeting A.I. Instead of accessing its database of known locations of Light Basins, it reads densely populated areas (such as cities, towns, and even large

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


11 villages) as Light Basins and directs its beam of focused heat to them. Within a few minutes, the residents of an entire metropolis can be vaporized. Making matters worse is another part of the Diamonds’ code, wherein if a Light Basin is perceived to be overheating, the Diamond would either cease energy transmission or divert its beam to another Light Basin. As such, with this malfunction the ‘death rays’ of the three Diamonds destroy continuously, never staying in one place for very long. At the time that these malfunctions are occurring, it is daytime for China, India, and their surrounding countries. Scorching rays of light burn across the Eurasian continent with impunity, wiping out billions with ease. And as the world turns, the rampage only continues. Somehow, word reaches the Americas of what is happening on the other side before daybreak. An emergency broadcast goes out, and the hope from those few days before turns into panic. As people scramble out of their homes in search of safer ground, get into accidents in the frenzy, forget some of their belongings or even loved ones while others stay where they are and pray, the Earth is already changing from all the excess heat. Atmosphere decays; air thins; water evaporates; plants suffocate while animals die of dehydration. Slowly, slowly, the hand of death sweeps over all. And just like that, within a single day, a single set of twenty-four hours, a simple turning of the planet, everything but a handful of upright apes is killed, cremated, and scattered to the echoing winds. On the old blue planet, just as it once was in the Very Beginning, everything is quiet.

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


12

Setting The game is set sometime after the 2600’s, on a technologically-advanced Earth filled with Utopian cities, where autonomous droids continue to carry out their duties, though many of them are malfunctioning more and more in the absence of the care of their human creators. The specific city is left ambiguous. Man-made metropolises, both incredibly expansive and also towering into the skies, are completely abandoned yet eerily pristine due to the continued work of the droids. Meanwhile, the reddening Sun and the seven Diamonds it has claimed prove absolutely merciless to those who dare step into its light. After the Second Calamity reduces human population from 10 billion to mere millions at best, the entire planet inevitably becomes a ghost town. Survivors scatter into the deserts and wastelands to isolate themselves, in fear of the Diamonds’ gaze. Some very small communities do form into shantytowns in the frontier, but you would never see more than a few dozen people gathered together. In fact, the numbers are often in the tens or less. And in these dead lands, a conflict is brewing...

North America With the national and state borders of every nation erased, there exists nothing but landmasses annotated with the memory of continents’ names. In the land of North America is where the story of Sira takes place, in the place once known as the United States. Time marches on after the Second Calamity. The climate gets harsher; the swelling Sun continues to grow hotter. For the last remaining denizens of the dying planet, the ground beneath their feet is nothing but a deathbed on which to count their final hours. The smart ones among the survivors (which, thankfully, are most) build domes somewhat reminiscent of igloos to survive under their harsh conditions. Many have radios; a few can even watch old movies on their televisions; all are air-tight and small. With the atmosphere continuing to thin on the outside, these domes are essentially heat-insulated oxygen chambers. Makeshift respiration filters take in oxygen from the outside, re-concentrate it into breathable air, and then fill the interior with it. (It’s a poor man’s Air Conditioner for all their post-apocalyptic needs.) Luckily there is no shortage of energy for this much needed process; all domes have solar panels and LL Distilleries installed, likely salvaged from empty homes in the suburbs. Bland-tasting supplements are also generated to nourish the body’s nutritional needs. Thus, the survivors live out their days in peaceful paranoia and isolated nostalgia. The Burrowing It is presumed that the people on the surface are the last remaining members of humankind. With all the fear of stepping outside, none have really confirmed this. But if someone would only stop to think, they might realize that there might have been people who didn’t scatter across the Earth but rather burrowed into it, disappearing into sewers, tunnels, and basements, never to be seen again. (Unless we want to bring them in for a sequel.)

Day and Night

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


13 As much as it is the lethal sunlight that makes it a problem to go outside during the day, there is an additional issue of the low concentration of oxygen. Just as it is today in caves, prolonged exposure to oxygen-diminished air can have detrimental effects on the brain and body (one of which is hallucination). As such, when people do venture out into the wastes to scavenge/salvage/etc., they usually wait until nightfall. Unfortunately, due to the circular formation of the seven Diamonds, days on Earth have become much longer, and nights much shorter. From sunrise to sundown (including the time that the Diamonds are out as well) is a solid 18-20 hours of lethal burns and radiation. Plus, the shaded areas and cast shadows shift with every passing hour. So the only ‘safe’ time to brave the wastes is during the approximate 4 hour window around midnight. And it would be ‘safe’ of course, all things considered, if it weren’t for the cult.

The Solaris Kin A fiercely loyal brotherhood united by faith, the Solaris Kin is a one-hundred-man battalion of crusaders on a holy mission. Weeks after survivors scatter into their isolated pods, a man possessed of an incredible fire in his spirit begins to travel the wastelands of North America to deliver a message of ‘hope’ to the last of humanity. But since his (supposedly) God-given duty is a heavy burden to bear alone, he gathers a militia of ninety-nine soldiers to serve as his round table of knights and his coven of apostles. Together they travel the land, etching this ‘divine word’ into the hearts of everyone they meet. Messiah As head of the cult, the Prophet is a man devoted to faith, a charismatic leader, and above all, an unparalleled orator. His passion for his beliefs and for the salvation of mankind easily sways so many people to hear his message. Rhetoric, reason, empathy—the Prophet bends them all to his will. Because of this, he is a singularly dangerous man. Words are his weapon, but even if this fails, he has a militia awaiting his every command. Like the men who follow him, he wears a special Sunsuit to curb the environment’s damaging effects. The origins of this ‘man of the cloth’ are shrouded in mystery—even for his loyal soldiers. All that is known about him is all that can be discerned by meeting him: a fierce intellect, unyielding dedication to his cause, and a mesmerizing talent for oration. He and his cult did not exist before the Calamities, leading many to believe that he either truly is an emissary of God sent in during these desperate times, or a madman whose mind was warped by all the death and destruction. Though he is known to individuals outside the Solaris Kin as ‘the Prophet,’ he explains to them that this is inaccurate, because how can anyone claim to be a prophet in the End Times when there is no future left to foretell? He much prefers his (supposedly) God-given title and name, accurately reflecting his role as a savior of the souls of mankind, “Messiah.” Kin The ninety-nine men (and possibly women) of the Solaris Kin militia are nothing more than vessels for Messiah’s will, and extensions of his body. Each follower has taken and must uphold three vows: a vow of servitude (absolute loyalty to Messiah), a vow of quietude (can only to speak to Messiah or each other), and a vow of anonymity (staying masked, discarding their © Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


14 old identities, dedicating themselves as parts of a greater whole). Armed with only non-lethal weapons and electrified stun rounds, a vow of virtue exists as well; they are forbidden from taking any human life. Oddly though, there is no vow of abstinence. Originally, all soldiers were merely survivors of the Calamities, scattered and lost much like many survivors still are. Messiah came to each of them when he was first ‘blessed with the epiphany,’ seeking to recruit an army to help him in his task of ‘delivering God’s message.’ With his words, he makes each of the despondent survivors forget all the pain and hopelessness by endowing them with a grand purpose: to save the souls of mankind. This became and still remains the sole purpose of their existences, virtually eclipsing their former identities and empty lives. Protecting and serving Messiah is how they define themselves. Day and night, they now follow Messiah’s every command. They are fast, ruthlessly efficient, and well-trained. Insofar as they will not kill, they are also without mercy. They are all familiar with the protocol and all too familiar with the ‘holy message’ on which the entire basis for the Solaris Kin is founded. Message “Embrace the Sun! Step into the Light! Surrender your flesh to the flames and God’s light will cradle your soul into Heaven!” This is the Solaris Kin’s true purpose. The message that they bring is not one of hope but of acceptance, like the last step of dealing with grief. The Solaris Faith is an extremist, apocalyptic off-shoot of Christianity. Began by Messiah, its deviation centers around its interpretation of the Calamities and also of the son of God. Taking ‘ascension’ in a more literal sense, Solarians believe that the yellow Sun is the Holy Trinity itself. It is where the ‘son’ (‘sun’) of God ascended to; it is where the Holy Ghost watches us; and it is where the gates of Heaven lie, behind which God sits upon His throne. Thus, the Sun’s continuing expansion is seen as the Second Coming. The centuries of technological progress are gifts from God, Messiah says, but Man seems to lose faith with the more ingenuity and power he gains. Religion is indeed all but dead by the time the First Calamity hits, and everything after it is seen as retribution. Thus, reminiscent of a certain Greek myth, God unleashes the bestial flames that guard the gates of Heaven: the Red Dragon—or to use another name, Satan/Lucifer/The Devil himself. This is how the union of Heaven and Hell is explained—as the light and the fire of the swelling Sun. Messiah says the truly guilty have already been purged and that those who remain are the ones who have a second chance. This is the message that Messiah must deliver to every last person on Earth: salvation can still be had but only through the ultimate sacrifice. The gift of life is to be returned to God before we can know peace and everlasting bliss in His arms. Messiah knows the outcome. After all survivors are delivered, the Kin will step into the light themselves, followed by he himself. Humanity becomes extinct. “But such is our Fate.” Method In keeping with their mission, the Solaris Kin spend almost all of their time on the road, traveling from one makeshift dome or shantytown to the next in search of survivors to convert. Most of the time, they remain a solid battalion one hundred-strong. A large part of this is to retain a powerful presence; so rare is it to see so many people gathered together anymore that the mere sight of them quickens pulses. ‘Perhaps if they come too close,’ a survivor might think, ‘it will attract the gaze of the Diamonds and incinerate us all.’ Even with their special Sunsuits, © Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


15 they only move at dark, scouring the lands like creatures of the night. To ensure Messiah’s safety, scouts are often sent ahead to find a suitable place of shade to rest during the day as well as a safe route to it. This is how they move across the country. Upon reaching some survivors, the Kinsmen surround and detain them, and bring them before Messiah. Here, Messiah begins his entire conversion process with a sermon that preys upon the fears of the survivors and brings them to a fragile, impressionable state (if they aren’t already). Then he offers them salvation: “End your worldly suffering and step into the light.” At dawn, while Messiah and his knights bid farewell from the shade, the survivor/s kneel and wait to meet the Sun’s newborn rays. Within minutes, nothing is left but ash. Messiah says a prayer, and the cult moves on again at nightfall. They will never stop. Sunsuit What enables the Solaris Kin to move about relatively freely are the Sunsuits they wear. Messiah was already in possession of these when he gathered his ninety-nine apostles; how that is, none really care to consider. It is fairly clear when looking at them that they have been appropriated for the cult’s use with the cult; the insignia of the Solaris Kin is branded proudly on all of them. The suits are constructed of a special fabric alloy that is radiation-resistant (to a point), and designed to be air-tight and fully insulated. An internal circulation system powered by Liquid Light batteries maintains temperature and oxygen levels for the wearer. In truth, Messiah found these suits at a restricted government facility (or rather its ruins). This is why no one has ever seen them, and also how they could be so hi-tech. Temple Of course, the conversion attempt isn’t always successful; it just mostly is. People are so desperate, they’re ripe to believe just about anything that takes their mind off of the end of the world. But when a survivor persistently refuses to give in to the babbling masked man and his acolytes, Messiah has to exert the authority given to him by God. Since the only way (supposedly) to claim salvation for all the remaining people is if all of them accept the Sun, Messiah can exercise his right to forcefully ‘administer’ the holy message by way of a sacrificial ritual, reminiscent of the sacrifice of Isaac demanded of Abraham. When such a heretic is found, they are escorted by a detachment of the Kinsmen back to the Solaris Kin’s homebase—the so-called “Temple of Lambs”—in the heart of the country. Here they await Messiah’s return and his judgment. The building itself is an abandoned government facility (an airbase hangar, tentatively) re-purposed to imprison the non-believers. Upon Messiah’s return, all the soldiers leave him alone with the prisoner in a secure room, where the ritual takes place. There is a sewer grate in this room, and a controlled opening above that lets in sunlight—a Solarian’s murder weapon of choice. None know the specifics of the ritual, but when Messiah steps out again, the ceiling hatch is always left open and there is no sign of anyone else having been in there. Not even ash. Insignia The mark of the Solaris Kin is a simple design, consisting of a circle superimposed by two crosses slightly offset from each other (think: a really skinny tic-tac-toe grid with a ring). The

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


16 circle represents the Sun, and the crosses symbolize the first sacrifice (i.e. the Crucifixion) and the final sacrifice that all humans must now endure by giving up the gift of life. The insignia becomes a tell-tale sign left behind by Messiah and his Kinsmen on the houses and settlements of all they visit. Should a traveler find this mark on the door in white, they will know that the inhabitants surrendered to the sunlight willingly. Should they find it in red, then the people there were taken to the Temple by force and made to submit.

Resistance For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The rise of the Solaris Kin is no exception. Across the wastes, radio waves yet bring sounds into the otherwise silent domes. Stations are few and signals are weak, but there are still people out there broadcasting whatever they can just to stay sane. After the Solaris Kin’s ‘conversion’ of one family unknowingly leaves behind one surviving member, word reaches the broadcasters of the cult’s doings. And word of them continues to spread, soon coupled with a message of hope: “Hold on. Don’t give in to them. Never give up hope.” Just like that, the seeds of resistance are sown. However, in contrast to the Kinsmen, this army is not a unified force. They have no leader, no organization, and almost no chance. But what they do have is the will to resist and the desire to live; maybe it’s all they need. And this spirit is something they desperately want to keep alive. But without any real means of venturing out into the harsh environment, any semblance of a rebel ‘unit’ consists of no more than a dozen minimally armed people doing nothing but waiting until the cult reaches them, at which point they intend to fight—and kill.

War This is the uncivil war that breaks out on the fields of Armageddon. The Solaris Kin are the deathbringers of salvation, efficient and well-armed; and the disparate resistance fights for the right to see a bleak future through, and to keep the flames of hope alive.

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


17

Setup Before the Solaris Kin work out all the kinks in their routine, a detachment of soldiers transporting a defiant family of three falls victim to a flaw in their security protocol. One of the family members detonates a bomb that kills all but one: the father. Wrought with grief, he gathers pieces of the Kinsmen’s suits for himself and vanishes into the nearby city. A few weeks later, Messiah finds out that the detachment was killed in an explosion, minus one in the body count along with a full set of Solaris Kin equipment.

The Family Rewind a few weeks before the game starts. As rare as it is for survivors to come in groups, there is one family of three that manages to survive the Calamities together. The mother and father are in their forties, and the boy is in his late teens. The latter is an avid listener of the radio. He is almost always tuned in to somebody’s broadcast, keen to hear the voice and thoughts of others. He remembers far too well the friends he once had. Their days are uneventful. The father spends most of his time reading or tinkering on something useless, unless something in their dome has broken down (again). He is an experienced droid technician, after all, and is capable of whatever needs fixing: the LL Distillery, the solar panels, the air filter. The mother tends a very, very small artificial garden in her spare time. She keeps it by her bedside. Every once in a while, the family gets together for a movie night. Few words are ever really spoken between them. In this sense, they’re quite a typical dysfunctional family. What is there to talk about when the world is ending all around? The weather?

The Fury In their one-room dome that combines everything (kitchen, living room, TV room, bedrooms), the son yearns for something more—for escape. But the only place he can go is where his mind is taken on the airwaves. As much as he loves his parents, he feels trapped. This is ultimately what makes him so susceptible to sympathizing with the resistance. When he hears of the mysterious cult traveling the country and leaving no survivors in their wake, all his frustrations channel into hate. With each case reported in the broadcasts, the rage grows. When he goes to his parents with wishes to join the resistance force, they forbid him. The mother and father have seen too much death to condone someone—let alone their only son—to put their life on the line for any reason. Their family will have no part in that war, they declare. Begrudgingly, the son obeys, even though he knows that the war will eventually come to them. And he knows they stand no chance in an upfront fight. The hate he feels is far from gone. Between the books in the dome and what little is left of cyberspace, the boy teaches himself the very basics of explosives and hatches a plan. He is determined to set his parents free, though he keeps his intentions a secret.

The False Sun

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


18 The dreaded day comes. The willfully ignorant mother and father are surprised when the cult knocks upon their door in the night. Messiah introduces himself and his followers, and is rather cordial. He and two Kinsmen are welcomed inside. The son plays ignorant as well, revealing nothing of the small timed explosive he swallowed mere seconds ago. Messiah delivers his powerful sermons, attempting to uproot them from their stagnant lives frozen in the stasis of false hope. He tries to open their eyes to the will of God and to the message that rains down upon them with each day. But in spite of his efforts, they refuse to believe that dying is the answer. The family would much rather live out their days in peace. Messiah is left no choice but to exercise his authority. The son does not fight the Kinsmen when they come to take him, though his mother and father do resist for a time. A detachment of eight soldiers is tasked with escorting these three heretics back to the Temple of Lambs, where they—like others before them—are to await ritual sacrifice. Meanwhile, Messiah and the rest of his army move on. All during the move, the son is almost completely silent with the exception of the occasional sound of him counting. The Kinsmen think nothing of it. In reality, he is keeping count of the timed bomb painfully making its way through his bowels. When they reach the outskirts of New Washington City, the son is aware that the explosion is imminent. He throws a tantrum, pretending to try and escape custody. All that rage building inside him is released in a rush of adrenaline, forcing all accompanying soldiers to try and keep him down. His distraction attempt is successful. The son screams for his parents to take cover, but only the father reacts in time. A small-scale supernova happens then—a bitesize false sun exploding in the wastelands. And from the ashes, only the father rises, his eyes wounded. But what is he a father of, if his family is dead? The man is in shock. Dead bodies and limbs lay all around him. As if on instinct, he begins removing parts of the soldiers’ protective suits. He refuses to let his family’s death be in vain. So he lives on. Carrying scraps of several Solaris Kin uniforms, he heads into the long abandoned capital of New Washington to seek shelter from the coming dawn.

The Runner For a while, this fugitive of the Solaris Kin—the Runner—does nothing but wander and weep for his family. The empty buildings and streets become sounding boards for his cries. Then, he comes across a broken down droid. He remembers working on it from before the Calamities. And it changes him. He fixes it without so much as a second thought. It is at this moment that the pain inside him subsides—just a tiny bit, and for just a moment. With the cyber-ecosystem of the entire city deteriorating, the Runner soon finds a new purpose: to keep the droids alive. And just like that, he creates for himself a new home and family. He wanders the cities, repairing droids like a father mends the wounds of his child. His new life is no less tragic than his former one; the many droids are breaking down faster than he can fix them. Inevitably, this family will die too. But everything dies someday. When the Runner reawakens his will to live, he fashions himself a new suit from the special material he salvaged from the Solaris Kin uniforms.

The Mission

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


19 As the Runner begins his life as a Patriarch for the droids, Messiah returns home to his compound, the Temple of Lambs, only to find that the detachment never made it back. A search party is organized. Upon their return, Messiah learns about the explosion. He also learns that there is one heretic missing among the bodies, as well as a full set’s worth of Solaris Kin equipment. Never forgetting that his charge is to bring salvation to all children of God, Messiah remains determined to find the missing father and bring him to the Temple. For this, he chooses one soldier among the Solaris Kin’s ranks (the rest are needed to hold the front against the resistance) to venture into the nearby city and former capital, New Washington. Thus, a soldier is sired the Hunter. These are the circumstances in which the player finds themselves.

Š Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


20

Plot After an ominous sermon opens the story, the Hunter, a mysterious man in exosuit, arrives in the city via train, bringing with him a bright red cloth and a large container which he leaves on-board. After disembarking, he notices a droid in the distance bandaged with a similar cloth. Other droids appear after it and create a trail for him, which he follows. As he progresses through the city maneuvering around the deadly rays of sunlight, his mind becomes an arena in which two forces struggle: the fearful sermons of a dark prophet promoting suicide, and lost citizens’ audio logs which paint a picture of a once-hopeful time. When the Hunter reaches a Hospital building, he finally meets his mark: the Runner. A chase ensues between them, with red-bandaged droids impeding the Hunter’s path. Audio logs become scarce while the sermons gain prominence. After the Runner fails in pleading for his life, the Hunter corners him at a train platform and subdues him. He carries the prisoner onto the train and departs from the station. His mission is complete. Dropped by the Runner during the struggle and left behind at the platform, is an audio log with a word on it: “HOPE.”

Extended Summary Prologue The story opens with the image of a giant dark blood-red sun burning in the black void of space. A man’s voice (Messiah) begins the End Times rhetoric and frames the story as an allegory of struggle between Holy Messengers and Agents of Darkness, set in a dying world. Act I A train with two blacked out cars heads into desolate New Washington City. On board is a soldier (the Hunter) kneeling on the floor next to a comrade (the Kinsman) with slow, labored breathing and the horrible burn across his chest causing it. The Hunter uses a device to scan his wounds: “Fatal. Expected lifespan: 15 minutes.” The Kinsman places a red piece of cloth into the Hunter’s hand and motions ‘go.’ The Hunter complies when the arrival tone sounds. He leaves his gun with the dying soldier, and sets a device on his arm to 15 minutes. Walking into the other blacked out train car, the Hunter looks at a container bearing the same Insignia as the one on their Sunsuits, large enough to hold a grown man. The train comes to a halt, the doors open, and the Hunter steps outside. As the doors close behind him, he peers down at the red cloth in his hand and clenches it violently. The hunt is on. He finds a droid with the same red cloth up ahead. When he enters a beam of sunlight and incurs an intense burn, the earlier sermon is triggered again, in which Messiah describes a drastic metamorphosis undergone by the sun. He references the specific biblical image of a Red Dragon with seven heads and seven crowns. It becomes clear that shade is the only survivable method of travel. Near the station exit, the Hunter finds an old recording made in a time when light from a supernova was brightening the night sky—a time when, it seemed, there was still so much hope. It is of a woman about to propose to the woman she loves. Venturing out of the station, the Hunter enters a city hex where he finds more redbandaged droids. In time, they form a trail for the Hunter to follow through the sunlit paths. © Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


21 Early in this area, the Hunter comes across a view of the city. Messiah’s sermon then continues, with references to the billions who have died under the sun, emphasizing again the need to avoid direct light. In the midst of navigating a puzzle on the hex path, the Hunter finds another old recording. This time, a scientist’s voicemail for his colleague is heard, which talks about a link between the supernova, meteor rocks, and a heat wave. Later, the Hunter sees a perfect square array of charge bots laying in the Sun, having their fill. They disperse when he approaches. Near the entrance to a hospital building, he finds another audio log, where the previous scientist’s colleague returns the message, noting the acceptance of his proposal by a Committee, commending his initiative, and reminiscing a little. The hope is palpable. The Hunter enters the hospital and is greeted by a strange sight. Kneeling in front of a child-sized droid, a man in another exosuit (the Runner) ties a red bandage onto the inanimate’s arm. A slow, sad, and silent moment passes as the Runner leans in and rests his head on the droid’s, as if it were a young son. Then, the man stands up and turns. The eyes of the Hunter and the Runner meet. The Runner freezes, startled, and then immediately runs in the opposite direction. Act II As the Runner gets a brief head start, Messiah’s sermon continues about the dangers of false prophets, disguises, and the temptation of false hope. The Hunter gives pursuit relentlessly, again and again navigating around the Runner’s droids who in turn seem to be impeding and endangering his path at every turn. Amidst this struggle, the Hunter finds a reporter’s audio log. On it, the older scientist from before describes newly completed Sunfields and Light Basins, alluding to Phase 1 of New Trinity, as well as the good progress of Phase 2. The chase brings the two men outside the hospital onto another city hex, opposite the path that the Hunter traveled on earlier. He catches a glimpse of the Runner making his way around sunlight with ease, clearly familiar with the layout of the place. This triggers more of Messiah’s sermon, rousing his audience together with a call to arms in order to fight an age-old enemy. As the images of an apocalyptic battle begin to build, the Hunter finds a recording of a young man’s ‘Save The World’ party. In the final countdown to the completion of Phase 2, the youth notes the seven Diamonds in the sky as stars. Its deceptively joyous and celebratory atmosphere belies the familiar number. The Hunter is led back to the entrance of the train station. Another sermon begins in which the Prophet names his audience as his 99 apostles, confirming the Hunter’s identity. The chase intensifies as the gap closes between them. The Hunter then finds a new recording different from the rest: it is from the Runner himself making a plea for his life. He reveals himself as a failed convert, apologizes for stealing the Sunsuit and begs to just be forgotten. Messiah’s sermon cautions against the Devil’s lies. When the Hunter finds the Runner’s suit discarded on the ground as an offering, Messiah is heard invoking the image of a vile Serpent. The Runner finds himself cornered at the train platform, the other exit blocked off. The Hunter catches up and finds his mark backing away. A moment of stillness is broken when the Runner makes a break for it past his pursuer. The Hunter charges forward as well and they collide. An audio log drops from the Runner’s possession and gets kicked away in the struggle. A brief sermon is heard wherein Messiah commends the work of his soldiers, and reminds them

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


22 to stay strong. The Hunter subdues the Runner to his knees; he can only plead for mercy. Coldly, the Hunter just knocks him out. In the quiet aftermath, the Hunter drags the the unconscious Runner to the container seen on his train at the beginning and drops him into it. His mission complete, he eagerly enters the other blacked out train car to tell the news to his brother-in-arms. There is still a good few minutes to spare. He can make it. These thoughts vanish from the Hunter’s mind when he finds the Kinsman lying still on the ground, his arms and neck limp. He kneels next to him, and then sits beside him. He watches as the last few seconds of the inaccurate countdown continue on his arm device. Meanwhile, Messiah begins closing his sermon with a frighteningly hopeful tone, describing his followers’ abdication of free will as the mark of being imbued by Divine Will. The Hunter is powerless, and it’s supposed to be a fucking miracle. The train finally starts. The doors close. The Hunter presses the button to turn the timer off before it runs out. Cut to black. Epilogue The story closes with the image of a giant dark blood-red sun burning in the black void of space. The Prophet’s voice is heard as he finally reveals the supposed Holy message and the Cult’s true goal: mass suicide, and thus human extinction. But he speaks in terms of grandeur, and depicts a glorious shining victory marked by the eternal gratitude and recognition of the divine, and entry into an everlasting paradise. The low sound of sun-fire hides beneath the words of his promises. Post-Epilogue In the very same platform later that night, a certain corner of the area slowly eases into view. Slowly. Slowly. The audio log that the Runner dropped lays untouched on the ground. In the dead stillness of the night, we see a word desperately scrawled onto it: ‘hope.’

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


23

Cast Lead Characters ● ● ●

The Hunter The Runner Messiah

The Hunter Protagonist Bio

A shell of a man rendered mute by a verbose cult leader, the Hunter is nothing more than a vessel who follows orders. He is physically able to speak but has none with whom he wants to have a conversation, having sworn off his old life and name when he became an enforcer of the Solaris Kin. The fear of death and the desire to put it off as long as possible are what drive him. His dedication to the cult’s purpose is superficial, but there isn’t much else to him. There could be a deeper side to him, but if there is, it’s dormant and buried deep down. He has no qualms traveling with Messiah, bringing death to all survivors. The Solaris Kin vows weren’t much of a sacrifice, though. Before the Calamities he was already a nobody: an anonymous face in a typical cubicle doing insignificant work. He had few acquaintances and less friends because he didn’t much like people, including himself. With everything in the world burning away, he has become a perfect vessel for another’s will. The one sympathetic quality of his: in a forgotten recess of his mind is buried the secret wish to have been born in the 1950’s. Hidden in his apathetic life is a deep longing of bygone eras. Basic Facts

REAL NAME

George William McAllister

AGE

37

GENDER

Male

NATIONALITY

United States American

SOCIOECONOMIC LEVEL (CHILDHOOD)

Middle class

SOCIOECONOMIC LEVEL (ADULTHOOD)

Middle class

HOMETOWN

Unspecified

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


24 CURRENT RESIDENCE

North America (nomadic)

OCCUPATION

Soldier

INCOME/SALARY

$0

BIRTH ORDER & SIBLINGS

Only child

PARENTS

Father and Mother (both deceased) were white-collar. Late 30's when they had him. Deaths were natural, preApocalyptic.

SPOUSE(S)

None

CHILDREN

None

GRANDPARENTS

None (didn't know them)

GRANDCHILDREN

None

SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

None (only had 'acquaintances', hardly 'significant')

RELATIONSHIP SKILLS

None

Physical Characteristics

HEIGHT

5'7" / 170 cm

WEIGHT

170 lbs / 77 kg

SPECIES/BREED/RACE

Human / Caucasian

EYE COLOR

Green

HAIR COLOR

Light Brown

SKIN COLOR

Light-skinned

SHAPE OF FACE

Square

DISTINGUISHABLE FEATURES

Unspecified

MANNER OF DRESS & STYLE

"Militaristic" / Always wears the Solaris Kin suit

HEALTH

Good physical shape and health

DISABILITIES

None © Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


25 GREATEST PHYSICAL FLAW

None in particular / Average all around

BEST PHYSICAL QUALITY

None in particular / Average all around

Emotional Characteristics

STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES

Generally apathetic, numb, keeps him level-headed but there's almost nothing he cares about

INTROVERT/EXTROVERT

Introvert / borderline antisocial (in terms of interaction, though he does stick around with others for safety)

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH ANGER?

Suppresses it publicly / Hits things privately (shooting things would require wasted bullets) / Given an opportunity, he would vent his frustration sexually

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH SADNESS?

Suppresses it (similar with anger and most other emotions as well) / Given an opportunity, he would drink his troubles away

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH CONFLICT?

Gives up and moves on to something else, unless it’s an order

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH CHANGE?

Poorly. Frustrates him. Slow to adjust. But never cares enough to try and reverse the inconvenience. Surprisingly quick to adapt to Solaris Kin lifestyle though.

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH LOSS?

Apathetically (doesn’t really have anything to lose anyway except his position in the Solaris Kin and his Sunsuit) / Mild frustration, which he’d suppress

WHAT DOES THE CHARACTER WANT OUT OF LIFE?

Just more of it (not that he does anything useful with his life) / Afraid of death / Constantly on autopilot day-to-day

WHAT WOULD THE CHARACTER CHANGE ABOUT THEIR LIFE?

His birthday back 100 years before the Calamities / Deep down, he also hides a burning desire to have lived in the 1950’s (being a bit of an admirer of that “historical age”)

WHAT MOTIVATES THE CHARACTER?

Routine

WHAT FRIGHTENS THE CHARACTER?

Change / Death / Public speaking

WHAT MAKES THIS

Vintage items / A cold winter breeze (obviously, both have © Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


26 CHARACTER HAPPY?

become exceedingly rare events, so he spends most of his time miserable) / Envies the dead

IS THE CHARACTER JUDGEMENTAL OF OTHERS?

Yes / xenophobic / prejudiced / dislikes almost everyone but rarely acts on it

IS THE CHARACTER GENEROUS OR STINGY?

Stingy to others but spends money just fine for himself

IS THE CHARACTER GENERALLY POLITE OR RUDE?

Closer to rude, but more specifically distant, cold, ghostlike, doesn't acknowledge others

Psychological Characteristics

EDUCATION

College dropout

INTELLIGENCE LEVEL

Average to slightly-above-average

LEARNING EXPERIENCES

Grew up in a lukewarm home, raised by lukewarm parents who neither pushed nor encouraged him, instilling a sense of mediocrity within him. When the Calamities struck, he was taking a day off, and decided to just continue with a permanent vacation. Out of boredom (and out of food), he started traveling around looking through people's abandoned houses and apartments. It was during this time that he met the Prophet, who was still recruiting for the Solaris Kin. When he heard of their goal, he had a rare moment of clarity and convinced himself that he had the best chance of living the longest life by volunteering for the militia (as they would be the last to step into the light, before only the Prophet). And he still feared death. Thus he resumed autopilot, following orders and keeping his head down.

SHORT-TERM LIFE GOALS

Follow the Prophet's orders

LONG-TERM LIFE GOALS

Avoid death as long as possible

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER SEE THEMSELVES?

Elements of self-loathing don't hinder his superior view of himself above the majority (who are "loud, obnoxious, deluded" etc.)

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


27 HOW DOES THE CHARACTER THINK OTHERS SEE THEM?

Either that he doesn't exist, or that he's pathetic

HOW SELF-CONFIDENT IS THE CHARACTER?

Not very much at all

IS THE CHARACTER RULED BY EMOTION, REASON, OR BOTH?

Emotion (as the only thing that compels him to do anything is when the heart craves something, i.e. sex, solace, etc.)

WHAT WOULD MOST EMBARRASS THIS CHARACTER?

Public speaking / public attention / loss of anonymity

Behaviors & Mannerisms

MANNERISMS

Avoids eye contact / Monotone voice

HABITS

Sleep / Physical pleasure

HOBBIES

Collecting old things (this is why he picks up audio logs)

GROUP BEHAVIORS

Quiet / Keeps to himself but tends to walk behind others / Stiff posture

INDIVIDUAL BEHAVIORS

Quiet / keeps to himself / Slothful lounging and bad posture / Admires his meager collection of ‘artifacts’

SPEECH PATTERNS

Very short sentences. Contractions. Omitting words. 1-3 word answers. Average vocabulary.

CATCH PHRASES

None

SKILLS/ABILITIES

Has a penchant for following orders well (because of the autopilot thing). Can commit atrocities without thinking, even though his actions may haunt him later.

Other Scenarios

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER HOLD A BABY?

Like a bomb and a bag of shit

WHAT DOES THE CHARACTER DO WHEN ALONE IN A ROOM?

Admires his collection (old photos, records, etc.) / When away from it, he disappears into his mind and wanders into the 50’s era / Other times, he does naughty things © Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


28 HOW DOES THE CHARACTER ACT AROUND THE OPPOSITE SEX?

Cold and disinterested, as a precaution against pursuitand-rejection. But of course a lonely, desperate man is always interested.

Spiritual Characteristics

WHAT ARE THE CHARACTER'S BELIEFS?

Nothing but the fear of death, which was only brought on because the Calamities awoke his survival instincts

IS RELIGION PART OF THE CHARACTER'S LIFE?

No

Story Involvement

CHARACTER'S GAME ROLE

Protagonist / Player character

FIRST APPEARANCE

Very start of game

RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER CHARACTERS

Messiah: joins him to avoid death, and obeys him even without faith in Solaris. Distant but protects him.

Character Growth

DOES THE CHARACTER CHANGE BY GAME'S END?

Yes, albeit only slightly. The death of the Kinsman makes him capable of being a little bit closer with people around him, and not always so distant.

Š Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


29

The Runner Antagonist Bio

The Runner appears as an enigma, but is really just a good man who wants to be left alone. In terms of goals, he and the Hunter aren’t too different; they both just want to live. It’s a pity then that his goal of escaping the clutches of the Solaris Kin are in conflict with his pursuer’s. This is the sole reason he is the story’s antagonist. Weeks before he is hunted down, the Runner is just a man living with his wife and teenage son out in the wastes. After they are killed in an explosion (triggered by the son to help his parents escape capture by the Solaris Kin), he blames himself for their deaths. The blast is how his eyes become damaged. He finds a way to cope with the loss in New Washington, where all the droids are slowly falling in disrepair. In this vast cityscape, the Runner makes an unconscious decision: the cyber-ecosystem will be his new family. Now all he wants is to live the remainder of his days in peace and quiet. He also adopts a strange habit of bandaging the parts of droids which he fixes up. This man has begun to forget that they aren’t human. Before the Calamities, Jon Solomon Vonnegut was a well-known and highly capable droid technician. This is how he can fix up or otherwise meddle with technology. Basic Facts

REAL NAME

Jon Solomon Vonnegut

AGE

42

GENDER

Male

NATIONALITY

United States American

SOCIOECONOMIC LEVEL (CHILDHOOD)

Middle class

SOCIOECONOMIC LEVEL (ADULTHOOD)

Middle class

HOMETOWN

Near New Washington

CURRENT RESIDENCE

Outskirts of New Washington ruins

OCCUPATION

Robotics Technician (past)

INCOME/SALARY

$ 0.00 (current) / $ 45,000 per year (past)

BIRTH ORDER & SIBLINGS

Youngest of two / Alan Siegfried Vonnegut (older brother, whereabouts unknown) / baby sister Vonnegut (died weeks

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


30 after birth) PARENTS

Gerald Klein Vonnegut (father, deceased) / Isabel Vonnegut (mother, died giving birth to daughter)

SPOUSE(S)

Judith Rae Vonnegut (wife of 17 years, recently deceased)

CHILDREN

Peter Quentin Vonnegut (son, recently deceased)

GRANDPARENTS

Unspecified

GRANDCHILDREN

None

SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

James Kim (best friend, killed in Calamities) / Cecilia Gomez (old friend, had a brief affair that ended preApocalypse, now deceased)

RELATIONSHIP SKILLS

Average

Physical Characteristics

HEIGHT

5'9" / 175 cm

WEIGHT

180 lbs / 81 kg

SPECIES/BREED/RACE

Human / African-American

EYE COLOR

Dark brown

HAIR COLOR

Bald (originally black)

SKIN COLOR

Dark-skinned

SHAPE OF FACE

Rectangular

DISTINGUISHABLE FEATURES

Burn scars around his eyes (from explosion)

MANNER OF DRESS & STYLE

[Costume A] Dark grey body suit with a long cloak with orange stripes for night visibility, all made from the fabric alloy he salvaged from his dead Solaris Kin captors’ suits [Costume B] Same as above, but without the cloak/coat

HEALTH

A cough (doesn't impair his ability to run fast too much) / otherwise, in good health

DISABILITIES

None © Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


31 GREATEST PHYSICAL FLAW

Lung capacity affected by cough (forces him to rest after short bursts/sprints)

BEST PHYSICAL QUALITY

Stamina / Speed

Emotional Characteristics

STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES

Confident / Perceptive of others' emotions or inner workings (esp. machines) but less of himself

INTROVERT/EXTROVERT

Introvert / changed from an extrovert with his grief

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH ANGER?

Goes for a run because it gives him ideas and takes his mind off things

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH SADNESS?

Fixes up droids to deal with things, treating them like a surrogate family / Used to confide in his brother as a child, and then his wife as an adult

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH CONFLICT?

Avoids it because he feels powerless / If his droids were threatened though, he would become fiercely protective (in his old days, he would confront conflicts head-on)

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH CHANGE?

Adapts and moves on / modifies or invents tech to accommodate

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH LOSS?

Loss in competition: deals well, often wanting to learn from the person if it is tech-related / Loss of a person: mourns, and eventually finds something to fill the void

WHAT DOES THE CHARACTER WANT OUT OF LIFE?

Make useful things / retire and live in a beach house / Post-apocalypse, he just wants to keep the droids around him functioning for as long as he can and die with them

WHAT WOULD THE CHARACTER CHANGE ABOUT THEIR LIFE?

That he could have dissuaded his son from the suicide bombing, and prevented his wife from getting killed

WHAT MOTIVATES THE CHARACTER?

Preservation of his surrogate family of droids (Even with his family gone, the urge to create things remains)

WHAT FRIGHTENS THE CHARACTER?

When his tech malfunctions or doesn't work or hurts users / Death / The Solaris Kin / Harm to his droids

WHAT MAKES THIS CHARACTER HAPPY?

Making and fixing tech

Š Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


32 IS THE CHARACTER JUDGEMENTAL OF OTHERS?

Somewhat, but keeps it all on the subject of intellect and work ethic

IS THE CHARACTER GENEROUS OR STINGY?

Balanced, leaning towards generous (bought friends drinks somewhat often, gifts, etc.) / Post-apocalypse, mostly unchanged in that he devotes his time to droids

IS THE CHARACTER GENERALLY POLITE OR RUDE?

In between, leaning towards rude (mostly just very direct about matters)

Psychological Characteristics

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND

Master's degree from top university, cum laude

INTELLIGENCE LEVEL

High due to how much time he spends on his craft

LEARNING EXPERIENCES

Father was a good man, but often working. The brothers grew to rely on each other, though less so as they grew older. Death of baby sister gave him a fascination with little things like gadgets, stemming from an urge to save/fix her. Got into track and field for the feeling of winning a race, but later realized that for him it was just a good time to think. Apocalypse made him very protective of his family; secluded themselves into a dome, but wouldn't turn away a stranger without first helping them. Son's suicide bombing filled him with guilt for (in a sense) being the cause of his son's rash decision; steals from the other bodies parts of their suits to form a complete one for himself, determined to somehow make amends. Discovering a city’s robots slowly falling into disrepair imbues him with a new purpose: to keep them alive as long as he can.

SHORT-TERM LIFE GOALS

Escape the clutches of the Cult

LONG-TERM LIFE GOALS

Find a way to move past the deaths of his wife and son / Do something useful with his life, even if it is just for tech

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


33 HOW DOES THE CHARACTER SEE THEMSELVES?

As a guilty man with penance to pay

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER THINK OTHERS SEE THEM?

Invisible (wishful thinking)

HOW SELF-CONFIDENT IS THE CHARACTER?

Moderately self-confident due to his successes usually being very concrete, but outwardly humble to strangers

IS THE CHARACTER RULED BY EMOTION, REASON, OR BOTH?

More emotion, in spite of his strong roots in engineering

WHAT WOULD MOST EMBARRASS THIS CHARACTER?

Creating an invention that is either useless or simply does not work / Being exposed as a failure of a father

Behaviors & Mannerisms

MANNERISMS

A notably fast walking pace / Consistent eye contact

HABITS

Knuckle-cracking

HOBBIES

Tinkering with tech

GROUP BEHAVIORS

Loud and talkative / Jokes and wise-cracks aplenty at anyone's expense but all in good humor and mostly in good taste / This side of him is never seen because he is now always alone

INDIVIDUAL BEHAVIORS

Quiet, diligent, always looking for something to fix / Previously, this used to be agitation and restlessness, as he much prefers company

SPEECH PATTERNS

Never quite interrupts but does begin answering just before the other guy's sentence ends / Loves to have the last word in

CATCH PHRASES

"If it's not broken, make it better."

SKILLS/ABILITIES

Good speaker / Astute people observer through the tech they have

Other Scenarios

Š Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


34 HOW DOES THE CHARACTER HOLD A BABY?

Confidently / lifts them into the air and flies them around, etc.

WHAT DOES THE CHARACTER DO WHEN ALONE IN A ROOM?

Tinkers with tech / Sometimes weeps for his family

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER ACT AROUND THE OPPOSITE SEX?

Confident / Flirtatious (This has diminished since he became a widower)

Spiritual Characteristics

WHAT ARE THE CHARACTER'S BELIEFS?

Functionality, innovation, efficiency: the rules of play for technology. He only believes in the concrete. Also believes in the importance of family and friendship because to him, these things as equally concrete

IS RELIGION PART OF THE CHARACTER'S LIFE?

No

Story Involvement

CHARACTER'S GAME ROLE

Antagonist by his opposing goal and his tampering of surrounding tech to impede Hunter’s path / Leads Hunter along indirectly

SCENE WHERE CHARACTER FIRST APPEARS

About halfway through the level / Hunter is led to him by a trail of bandaged droids

RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER CHARACTERS

Messiah: refused to be taken in by his cult and commit suicide, and fears him. / The Hunter: does not know him.

Character Growth

DOES THE CHARACTER CHANGE BY GAME'S END?

No

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


35

Messiah Narrator Bio

In many ways, Messiah is the story’s true villain. He is ruthless, self-righteous, highly intelligent and exceedingly driven in carrying out his mission to bring about the extinction of humankind through mass suicide. He is single-handedly responsible for exerting his will upon the Hunter (the player) and pitting him against the unsuspecting, innocent Runner. He is also the catalyst that reignites the flames of war. Much of this is implied, as religious figures in postapocalyptic narratives are rarely, if ever, a force of true good. But underneath his fearful oratory, there is an unspoken mystery about Messiah’s true intentions. Is he really genuine? Does he mean to get everyone to commit suicide, and kill the ones who won’t? For the purposes of this story arc, yes. He is absolutely a murderous lunatic, who is also not an antagonist because he is on the same side as the Hunter. All that is known about him is that he has an unwavering belief in his God-given mission to usher in death to the survivors so that they may know Heaven. Though he is listed here as the narrator, the accounts he gives are not direct retellings of the game’s events. Rather they are commentary on them, serving various purposes, in the form of a sermon. Within the game space, this sermon is the speech he gives to every survivor and potential convert upon meeting them. The truth of it all is detailed in another section of this doc: Fodder For Sequels. Basic Facts

REAL NAME

Unknown

AGE

49

GENDER

Male

NATIONALITY

United States American

SOCIOECONOMIC LEVEL (CHILDHOOD)

Unknown

SOCIOECONOMIC LEVEL (ADULTHOOD)

Unknown

HOMETOWN

Unknown

CURRENT RESIDENCE

North America / nomadic

OCCUPATION

Religious leader

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


36 INCOME/SALARY

$0

BIRTH ORDER & SIBLINGS

Unknown

PARENTS

Unknown

SPOUSE(S)

None

CHILDREN

Unknown

GRANDPARENTS

Unknown

GRANDCHILDREN

Unknown

SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

The Solaris Kin / All of Humankind / God

RELATIONSHIP SKILLS

Has a singular ability to exploit people's fears and paranoia to soothe and/or manipulate them at will through words alone

Physical Characteristics

HEIGHT

6'0" / 183 cm

WEIGHT

200 lbs / 90 kg

SPECIES/BREED/RACE

Human Caucasian

EYE COLOR

Deep blue

HAIR COLOR

Red

SKIN COLOR

Pale white

SHAPE OF FACE

Square

DISTINGUISHABLE FEATURES

Perfect white teeth

MANNER OF DRESS & STYLE

"Pious" / Sun-resistant suit (white) typical of Solaris Kin, with robes/robe shreds draped over (mainly white, also sun-resistant)

HEALTH

Top shape, great health (past his prime but only just)

DISABILITIES

None

Š Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


37 GREATEST PHYSICAL FLAW

Unknown

BEST PHYSICAL QUALITY

Unknown

Emotional Characteristics

STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES

Is never compromised by emotion, to a point that he may seem cold or even heartless; but he “acts out of Love”

INTROVERT/EXTROVERT

Extrovert

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH ANGER?

He prays for serenity

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH SADNESS?

He prays for fortitude

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH CONFLICT?

He uses his gift of rhetoric and reason to resolve it / Failing that, he prays for resolution

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH CHANGE?

He welcomes it, and adapts his methods accordingly (though never his beliefs)

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER DEAL WITH LOSS?

He praises the departed's transcendence of this life / He is personally attached to no one in particular

WHAT DOES THE CHARACTER WANT OUT OF LIFE?

For Humankind to 'step into the light' and leave this life behind, as per God's will

WHAT WOULD THE CHARACTER CHANGE ABOUT THEIR LIFE?

Nothing, having accepted the way he is as the way he was intended to be

WHAT MOTIVATES THE CHARACTER?

The promise of Heaven, the salvation of every soul still on Earth

WHAT FRIGHTENS THE CHARACTER?

Failing to fulfill his duty as the herald of God's word

WHAT MAKES THIS CHARACTER HAPPY?

When a person willingly accepts the Solarian faith and dies of their own volition

IS THE CHARACTER JUDGEMENTAL OF OTHERS?

No, as he also accepts that others are the way they are meant to be, and leaves the judgments to God © Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


38 IS THE CHARACTER GENEROUS OR STINGY?

If he had anything to give, he would give it away. With just about the only viable currency he has (time), he is also rather generous, taking time to convince people of the Solarian faith. But ultimately for him, there is a greater need for God's message to reach as many people as quickly as possible, so he will move on as soon as he knows that it won't be heard.

IS THE CHARACTER GENERALLY POLITE OR RUDE?

Always polite, courteous and dignified. Politeness is God's way. He is never rude (insofar as murdering isn't rude).

Psychological Characteristics

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND

Unknown

INTELLIGENCE LEVEL

Extremely high in all areas, particularly oratory and of course religion/theology

LEARNING EXPERIENCES

The Revelation of the First Calamity, and the Revelation of the Second Calamity, where he learned of God's message that: (1) The yet-living have a chance at redemption (2) Redemption only comes with sacrifice, namely by embracing death in the sunlight (3) He must spread the word of God as His Messiah of the End, the embodiment of the Omega

SHORT-TERM LIFE GOALS

To convince as many survivors as possible to welcome the Solarian faith and die

LONG-TERM LIFE GOALS

To leave the Earth as the final departing human soul

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER SEE THEMSELVES?

Transparent, as a vessel for God's will and voice, righteous in the execution of his sacred duty

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER THINK OTHERS SEE THEM?

As the vessel of God's will and voice (does little to reconcile this idea to situations where people don't believe him)

HOW SELF-CONFIDENT IS THE CHARACTER?

Extremely self-confident, having imbued himself with the Divine

IS THE CHARACTER RULED BY EMOTION, REASON, OR

Neither. Though he is a master of manipulating both (in himself and others), he is ruled by only one thing: Faith.

Š Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


39 BOTH? WHAT WOULD MOST EMBARRASS THIS CHARACTER?

To stand before God as a failed prophet with unfulfilled duties

Behaviors & Mannerisms

MANNERISMS

Always speaks with high diction, projects his voice, always smiles even though his brows are almost always furrowed, as if weighted by a heaviness. Impossible to interrupt; will always talk over people if he's in the middle of saying something.

HABITS

Prayer, speechifying

HOBBIES

Prayer, spreading the Word

GROUP BEHAVIORS

Prayer, and speech-giving to inspire faith or convert the uninitiated

INDIVIDUAL BEHAVIORS

Prayer, and occasionally staring off blankly into the distance (one of the only times his smile fades)

SPEECH PATTERNS

High diction, masterful rhetoric, commanding voice

CATCH PHRASES

None (though it should be noted that his basic sermon, spoken when he finds survivors in an attempt to convert them, is almost identical each time; this sermon is what is heard throughout the course of the game, albeit a bit paraphrased at times)

SKILLS/ABILITIES

Oratory, manipulating fear/paranoia/emotion, bending reason

Other Scenarios

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER HOLD A BABY?

Quickly

WHAT DOES THE CHARACTER DO WHEN ALONE IN A ROOM?

Unknown

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER

Indifferent because souls are genderless Š Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


40 ACT AROUND THE OPPOSITE SEX?

Spiritual Characteristics

WHAT ARE THE CHARACTER'S BELIEFS?

The Solarian faith is a Messiah-made radicalist off-shoot of Christianity, with its central difference being that it combines an almost pagan reverence for the Sun. It depolarizes the duality of Heaven and Hell, stating that the Inferno is nothing more than a ring of fire that protects paradise. In essence, the Sun is a gateway behind which God and Heaven await. Thus, the catastrophically rapid expansion of the Sun is interpreted as the Second Coming, beckoning humankind to return to the garden from whence they were once banished. This, of course, only as long as they embrace the light.

IS RELIGION/SPIRITUALITY PART OF THE CHARACTER'S LIFE?

Yes (There is nothing else for him)

Story Involvement

CHARACTER'S GAME ROLE

He is in some sense the narrator because his sermon frames the story

SCENE WHERE CHARACTER FIRST APPEARS

Never physically present, but his voice both begins, ends, and permeates the entire story

RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER CHARACTERS

The Hunter: does not know him personally, but recognizes him as among the Solaris Kin The Runner: failed to convert him and his family, and has sentenced him to sanctified execution.

Character Growth

DOES THE CHARACTER CHANGE BY GAME'S END?

No

Š Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


41

Support Characters ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

The Kinsman Joan Rupert Gray Frederick Reinhardt Mary-Beth Ben PRO_GRAMMAR

The Kinsman Male, 30’s, American The Kinsman is the catalyst for player motivation, providing the Hunter with a source of urgency. He appears only in the first and last cutscenes of the game. In the intro sequence, he is seen suffering from a heinous burn that stretches across his chest and even penetrates through his suit. A scan of his vitals is what gives the Hunter a time constraint; he must capture his target and return the Kinsman to the base before time runs out. The Kinsman says no words to the Hunter. His siring the Hunter with the mission is all done through gestures, i.e. when he hands him the shred of red cloth. The sound of his breath is rather sickly, as if blood is filling his lungs and as if the pain of every breath is just barely all he can deal with. The agony is so unbearable, he can’t even speak. But somehow he remains stoic through it all. In the final scene, he is absolutely silent. The Hunter finds him already lifeless on the floor of the train car, right where he had left him. This is meant to illustrate one simple message: powerlessness. Even in a Utopian world, Death claims all whenever he pleases. The true identity of the Kinsman isn’t something that is explored in this game, and as such has been left ambiguous. He is definitely a member of the Solaris Kin, and was the other soldier (along with the Hunter) tasked with apprehending the fugitive Runner in New Washington.

Joan Female, early 30’s, American Joan is a bit of a free-spirited tomboy. She is confident, if occasionally neurotic, and smart, which comes through during more serious/professional settings. Her vocabulary is above average, but she doesn’t come off as haughty or Victorian. To use an odd scale, she is much closer to Juno though than she is to Legally Witherspoon. She has a “Viewtube” channel which she has been posting to more or less weekly for a number of years. She is a romantic, as shown through her dialogue in which she professes via online video her plans to propose to her long-time girlfriend. Nervous? Yes. Happy and excited? Even more so. In the scene, she is at the Train Station about to visit said girlfriend to surprise her. Rupert Gideon © Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


42 Male, late 20’s, American Rupert is a young and extremely bright engineer specializing in Photovoltaics. Yet in spite of his intellect, he is a bit of a bumbling klutz. His ideas often carry him away because he spends a lot of time in his research and in his own mind. When he meets people, he comes off as earnest, awkward, and kind of dependable. His work is excellent, though he has much to learn. This keeps him humble. After years of working with his mentor on the international world-saving project “New Trinity”, his knowledge increases manifold along with his confidence, as is later written about him in his biography (published even as he was still active on the project). In this sense, he is a variant of Steve Jobs. Frederick Reinhardt Male, mid 40’s, Swiss Responsible for the growth and many of the traits his protege Rupert would later gain, Frederick is a foil for Rupert. Though the “New Trinity” project was born from Rupert’s proposal, Frederick was the one who worked with him to make the solution more viable, efficient, and presentable. When Rupert was still a young man trying to prove his worth, Frederick was already an established figure in the engineering world. He is a kind-hearted, humbly confident genius. Though his accent is detectable, his mastery of the English language is undeniable: superb vocabulary, enunciation, and excellent public speaking. It’s worth noting that in his second appearance (i.e. when he is interviewed), he is in his 50’s. Mary-Beth Female, early 30’s, American Beth is a capable reporter whose presence is contained in just one line, in which she asks the aging genius Professor Reinhardt about the “New Trinity” project. Her traits are of a typical reporter’s: fast-paced talking, good projection, and very clear enunciation. Ben Male, early 20’s, American Ben is kind of a college bro, pure and simple, slightly matured after recently graduating college. Like Joan, he also has a “Viewtube” channel which he posts to, albeit irregularly. He is heard at his own party, taping the moments before, during, and after the countdown to a pivotal point in the “New Trinity” project’s on-going progress-- a party which, much like New Year’s, is being held by many people all over the world (dubbed “Save The World parties”). He is optimistic and high-spirited, with his whole life ahead of him. In the future, though, even bros aren’t complete idiots, so he does have a certain air of intelligence. It just often gets overshadowed by his sense of fun. PRO_GRAMMAR Male, Indeterminate Age, Computer Program PRO_GRAMMAR is the leading auto-correct application for voice messages. The voices come in any number of ‘flavors,’ but the one instance of it in the game is in Rupert Gideon’s recording, for which the voice setting is on “Englishman Albert.” © Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


43 Englishman Albert is a typical computerized voice, possessed of a tone that no human ever speaks in. It has that forceful calmness about it that somehow makes its intrusions all the more infuriating. The specific accent is Received Pronunciation. In terms of age, he could be anywhere between 30 and 40 years old.

Š Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


44

Methodology There is a lot of story information waiting in the wings of Sira. Here, a section of the story bible is dedicated to discussing the techniques used to convey the narrative.

Three Arcs The story of the Hunter’s pursuit of the Runner before the Kinsman dies is the main arc of the game. It may not be the first arc introduced, but since it deals with the present, it takes precedence. Everything that came before it has lead to that chase, and what could come after is just conjecture. Hunter-VS-Runner is the central axis on which everything hinges. A secondary arc tells the story of the supernova from Constellation Draco, the meteor rocks and their effect on the Sun, the heat wave, and of course New Trinity. Stripping this arc down to its bare bones function is to see that it’s really the platform on which we dole out world exposition. But the goal is to tell it in an interesting way (more on this below). The other secondary plot line, which is the first one the player is introduced to, is the summation of Messiah’s sermons. Paraphrased from the sermon which he gives to convert survivors to Solaris Kin followers (and suicides), this line tells a story crafted by Messiah to strip people of hope and imbue them with his ideologies. The tale he spins is ‘loosely based on’ the true events of the world, but the many layers of extreme religious connotations added have deformed it beyond recognition. In that it’s thesis is to suggest taking one’s life as a solution, it can be said to thus deal with the future.

Hope VS Despair: A Battle For Everyone’s Souls Even though the sub-plots hinge upon the main plot, they in turn have everything to do with what happens in the main plot. The history arc is a telling of the past filled with hope and promise; the sermon arc is an inexplicably authoritative vision of a future wrought with despair, destruction, and death. These forces are fighting for the player’s heart, in a sense, each trying to convince them of what to do. In its current incarnation, Sira is a linear experience. But the goal is to get the player to question what they would do in this scenario.

Techniques To tell these stories, two techniques are centrally employed. ● Monologues: fragments of Messiah’s sermon are heard as the Hunter remembers them via environmental triggers ● Audio Logs: recordings from pre-Apocalyptic days, these are vignettes of various characters at pivotal moments that also reveal world exposition ■ Echoes: the first recording is found at the train station, where it was first made. We hear that it’s full of people in the audio log, but we are faced with the fact that in the present, everyone is gone. Only echoes remain. The basics of ambient events, cutscenes, action, and dialogue are also used.

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


45

Promotional Synopses Because there’s always a need for brief descriptions of projects.

150 Words (version 2.1) In a matter of centuries, the face of the world changed. Technological utopias grew so vast, they rose to the clouds. Neon towers loomed so tall, people forgot the ground on which they stood. But after a stellar mutation causes the Sun to evolve through eons of its lifecycle, the metropolises of Earth become deserted. Now, oceans are vanishing. Atmosphere is dissolving. And though the automated cities live on, billions of their inhabitants are dead. From the scattered survivors, a prophet emerges with a holy message for humanity’s last. Though he gains many followers, those who oppose his gospel also form a resistance force. And thus, an uncivil war breaks out on the fields of Armageddon. Far away from the front lines, another battle begins. Forced to walk only in the shade, a soldier must race against time and chase an elusive enigma into the heart of a dead capital.

100 Words (version 2.1) Centuries from now, the mutating Sun unleashes a heat wave that vaporizes the oceans, decimates the atmosphere, and extinguishes billions of lives. Now, deserted utopias overrun the horizon in the aftermath as survivors scatter into the wastelands. When a prophet rises with a holy message for humanity’s last, a resistance forms from those opposing his gospel, and an uncivil war erupts on the fields of Armageddon. Far from the front lines, another battle begins. Forced to walk only in the shade, a soldier must race against time and hunt down an elusive enigma in the heart of a dead capital.

75 Words (version 2.1) After Earth is ravaged by a mutating Sun that kills billions, an uncivil war erupts between the followers of a shadowy prophet, and the resistance formed of the scattered survivors opposing his gospel. But the world’s wastelands are unimaginably vast. Far from the front lines of battle, another struggle begins. Confined to shade, a man in an exosuit must hunt down an elusive enigma into the heart of a dead capital.

AFWAP 35 Words (version 2.1) In the distant future, after a mutating Sun ravages Earth and decimates almost all life, a soldier from a far-off war sets out to fulfill a wounded comrade’s mission and hunt down an elusive enigma.

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


46

Fodder for Sequels This section details material that can be used for further installments/sequels to Sira.

The Secret of Messiah The man known as ‘Messiah’ who indirectly starts a war on mid-apocalyptic Earth is nothing more than a fabrication and false persona. Before Simon Walstan became a cultist, he was merely a Wanderer seeking answers to the world’s Calamities, driven by the loss of his loved ones and his failure to protect them to save humankind from utter extinction. When he stumbles into a giant hangar underground with what appears to be a half-built immigrant spaceship (along with its blueprints), he assumes that this is the true face of New Trinity’s third phase, “Stairway to Heaven.” But he knows that as few survivors as there are, the number of people that can survive on the ship’s resources is just a small fraction. He had to find a way to answer the impossible question: who shall be among the many that die so few may live? With the number of wars brought about by ideological differences throughout history, the Wanderer vows to weed out theistic fanaticism and diminish the probability of future conflict. To do this, he exploits people’s fear and desperation, and exposes those who can be swayed to die at the word of God and eliminates them. This is how ‘Messiah’ is born. The Temple is actually a lead-in to the hangar. ‘Heretics’ are not killed by sunlight, but sent down to continue construction. How this can come into play is myriad. Messiah could be exposed; he could reach the quota and have to disband the Solaris Kin (via death); there could be a coup d’etat that strips him of his control over the cult and sends it on a rampage across the land. Et cetera... One additional question is whether or not Simon Walstan will send the spaceship off without alone, and instead stay on Earth to pursue the chance that there are other immigrant spaceships deep underground, waiting for people to board them.

Phase III of New Trinity Given the secrecy of this part of the project, its true nature can be formed to fit any sort of plot. Simon Walstan the Wanderer assumes that the ships had to have been governmentfunded, but there is no actual evidence of this. And, in fact, the ships were not part of the New Trinity initiative. What phase III exactly is, is undetermined. What is set in stone is that whatever it is, it requires an unimaginable amount of energy. Perhaps phase III actually involved time-travel and sending people back to a different era to start a new timeline wherein the Sun does not devour the Earth. Or all that energy could be used to reverse the Sun’s aging.

Predator and Prey The lives of the Hunter and the Runner are not yet over. Will the Hunter continue to serve Messiah, even after losing a comrade and encountering the strange Runner? Will the Runner ever realize that he actually already has his own army: an army of droids?

Hope © Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


47 What is really on that tape? It’s a mystery that remains in the minds of players. The audio log’s contents are actually about phase III of New Trinity, that could very well debunk Messiah’s hold on his desperately hopeless soldiers. It could sow the very seeds of dissent, and dismantle all of Simon Walstan’s efforts to preserve the very best chance that humanity has to survive in the cold reaches of space. And there could be other audio logs out there. Any one of them could prove to have a ripple effect of untold magnitude.

Mentor and Pupil The people on the audio logs could themselves become fixtures of a future installment. The most prominent of them would be the spearheads of New Trinity, Dr. Gideon and Professor Reinhardt. Are these two pioneers still alive? If they are, it’s almost a guarantee that they’d be up to something.

Resistance Leader There is still a crucial void in the resistance force’s infrastructure because they lack a leader. Is there no one in the wastelands that can unite them? Surely there must be someone...

Voyagers The ‘ark’ that is being built by the survivors undoubtedly required a lot of resources. Who is really responsible for that entire project? It had to have been a powerful organization, which might have just survived the Calamities...

The Rest of the World The world’s a big place. Even with Armageddon everywhere, there are still many stories to tell of the other people living in Earth’s final hours. What’s happening with the resistance? What’s happening in the rest of the country? In South America? West Africa? Northern Europe? Why, anything could be happening. Anything at all.

© Arsenic Playground. All rights reserved. SIRA - Story Bible | version 2.1 | updated 27/01/2012


Sira v2 (story bible)  

Sira v2 / Details all narrative-related information for the project.

Advertisement
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you