Meet the Factions: Rhytec

One of the inner sancta of Rhytec Labs

Welcome to Rhytec Life Sciences, home of the most sophisticated life-changing medical interventions available today. Through advanced  research and highly safe and regulated human testing, Rhytec seeks nothing less than peace in our time.

So the ad copy goes, in any case. A cursory Google search will also reveal Rhytec’s affiliation with Cosmic Beverages,  purveyors of fine caffeinated products available on every street corner. What other molecules said beverages might contain, you’ve only begun to surmise. The samples you tried that day in Hamilton Square had some decidedly anomalous results.

Sure, their methods seem a bit extreme at times: you still have nightmares about the experiments you volunteered for. You were fine afterwards. Whatever they shot you up with, they had an antidote for. And later…well, you don’t remember how, but you were clean and healed. Still, most nights you again see the blood exploding out of your skin.

Nonetheless, you’re intrigued by what the recruiter, Mrs. Grey, tells you when she calls you in. They’re trying to do good work, important work, she says, and you believe at least that she believes that. She’s a brisk, efficient woman, and if she’s not entirely forthcoming, she at least has an eagle-eyed clarity and get-things-done-ness that you can’t help but admire. She tells you that the glassy makeup of Rhytec’s main building is meant to represent their “commitment to transparency.” Of all the things she says in that first meeting, this one is the hardest to believe. The easiest to believe, if the hardest to swallow, is that one of Rhytec’s main focuses is finding a “cure” for people like you: Awakened vampires, werewolves, and mages.

No wonder those experiments were so painful…

It’s with this thought in mind that you are introduced to the person who will be your companion in this faction, Zenith. Already a flashy dresser, Zenith’s look is further enhanced by the network of lines you can see under the skin of their hands, and the apparent tech implant, called a Cheval, that they wear on their glasses. Zenith, too, has a condition of some kind that is helped by medications that Rhytec provides. They’re vague about it, but you don’t think it’s the same kind of condition you have. You wonder what happens if they don’t get the drugs. You wonder what happens if Rhytec succeeds in making the magic-suppressing drugs, and whether you’ll have a choice in the matter.

Which brings you to the boss: Bethany Steele, an imposing woman who, like Mrs. Grey, seems to have everything under control. More so, in fact: her passionate backing of Rhytec’s work in the world is unquestionable. And in particular, she makes a great case for what they’re doing to cure the disease of magic. In fact, she’s almost too convincing. But that’s only because she’s right, after all: your relationship to everything changed literally overnight when you Awakened. Your appetites and needs now rule nearly everything you do. Is it any wonder that so many vampires, werewolves, and mages that you’ve met are involved in shady dealings?

Is it any wonder your life is no longer your own?

Join Rhytec, just one of ten factions in Susurrus: Season of Tides, which you can play for free on any browser. Go ahead: curl up with a cup of Cosmic Coffee and let the hours slide by… 


Meet the Factions: Phaedron Labs

The lobby of Phaedron Labs

In the world you’ve Awakened into, you’re rarely surprised anymore to discover wonders and horrors burgeoning in the shadows of the City. Yet Phaedron Labs is still an odd one. Combining research into the human genome, advanced cybernetics, and the occasional mystical meddling, Phaedron is essentially a superhero factory.

Dr. Wing Li

Or at least, that’s the goal. Unlocking hidden human potential, is how Dr. Wing Li, the brilliant geneticist leading the department, would put it. And for a good cause! Countless subjects have come to Phaedron with little hope of life left. That is, of life without constant pain, or severe disability, or an early death. Dr. Li and her team work with these desperate souls, using bleeding-edge technologies. The selection process is highly competitive, of course. And it carries significant cost. But those who volunteer trade life as a broken person for life with profoundly enhanced abilities, beyond any ordinary human.

Naturally, the subjects must detach from their old lives. If you’re dying of a rare genetic disorder, it’s likely your family will be made to believe you have died. They were expecting it, anyway. It’s better this way.

Captain Troy Aston

After all, once Phaedron agrees to work with you, you are contracted to them. These treatments are very costly, unimaginable, and those who pass the selection process pay for them with service to the agency. It’s worth it. You’re not just getting healed. You’re being pushed a little closer to godhood.

Of course, the missions and work these operatives undertake is highly classified. But what could a genomics and cybernetics laboratory require of highly-enhanced powered individuals that calls for so much secrecy?

Perhaps, if you join their ranks, you’ll find out. When you first encounter Troy Aston, captain of their security team, you have a chance to help him out with a tricky takedown mission. “The enhanced,” as they are euphemistically called, sometimes step out of line, and it’s Aston’s job to discipline them. It’s likely that he’ll take notice, and you may find yourself courted.

Melinda Corazon

If you do choose to join, you’ll be working with a partner: Melinda Corazon. She’s been brought on as a handler of enhanced operatives, and her tough-minded, pragmatic approach gives you grounding and confidence. She’s hoping to earn enough credit through her work to get some enhancement procedures of her own. And from what you can tell, she doesn’t seem to mind the risks. Somehow, Melinda wanting it makes Phaedron Labs seem a little less sinister.

Still…how far into the enhancement business are you willing to go?


Join Phaedron Labs or one of ten other factions when you play Susurrus: Season of Tides for free on any browser. Join us. The weird is waiting.

Meet the Factions: The Directorate (DSI)

“You’re quiet, but it’s a loud kind of quiet.”

The Recruiter, Alan Sharpe, by Jon Hunt

The Directorate for Special Investigations (DSI) is hardly the flashiest of the factions  floating around this city. An obscure branch of the government, they were originally founded as an elite unit of a larger intelligence agency, targeting top-tier organized crime figures who were hard to pin down using conventional means. A few high-profile successes put DSI firmly on the map. Their activities thereafter prioritized a return to more uncharted corners.

Which is not to say that they didn’t get the job done. On the contrary. Their success continued, for a time, but the nature of the quarry requires hunters who can hide in plain sight. There’s a reason DSI personnel generally wear blue suits. Standing out in a crowd is not in their interest.

The boss, Samantha Lerner, by Duncan Eagleson

Their obscurity, along with high power and low accountability, made corruption nigh-inevitable. It started with simple collusion: some members started working with crime figures in exchange for cash. Soon, this became a strategy for controlling organized crime in the city: after all, it’s easier to control criminality with blackmail material than to arrest and remove crimelords, only to see them replaced with more powerful ones. If you step in and control their business…well, you’re preventing the worst abuses altogether, right? It’s just a matter of making some compromises.

Things got a bit hazier when a powerful psychic took an interest and swooped in. Soon, the DSI was as involved with vampire lords and powerful mages as it was in bringing mafia figures to heel. (Plus, it’s not as if the worlds are all that far apart, anymore.) It was a short hop from there to exploiting the agency’s existing corruption – blackmailing Directorate leaders with their own blackmailing activities – and the DSI was quickly under new control.

Now, the place is crawling with psychics. Now, they’re interested in you.

Your companion, Carolina Perez, by Duncan Eagleson

It’s pretty creepy the first time you see an unassuming woman in a blue suit on a park bench, only to realize that she’s talking to you inside your head. But if you follow the trail, then by the time you get to the place they call The Laundry, it’s almost charming when your new colleague, Carolina, starts making snarky remarks at you without moving her mouth.

If you choose to work with DSI, you’ll learn all kinds of fascinating things: how to project an emotion onto someone, and how to defend against someone doing it to you; how to hack into people’s heads; and of course, how to use the intel you find there to make their lives difficult, and the DSI’s job easier. Neutralizing criminal threats to the city, including supernatural threats. Simple, right?

Maybe. As you go deeper, you start to think there’s something more going on. There’s tension in the ranks, and it’s getting hard to tell, sometimes, exactly whom you’re meant to be working for. It’s hard to imagine a government agency full of psychics doing double- and triple-agent espionage work not having more internal strife and infighting than it lets on. But you’ll need to stick around to find out exactly what that means…

Play with the DSI faction or one of 9 others in Susurrus: Season of Tides.

Meet the Factions: Hermes

The existence of Hermes is certainly nothing new. But since you began to perceive magic, you’ve noticed there’s something… odd… about the internet. Sometimes you feel like the search engine is watching you. Sometimes you have the strangest dreams if you’re browsing too late at night.

Robo-Robbie, by Jon Hunt

Hermes. The biggest tech conglomerate in the world. Your ISP. Your webmail. The most popular search engine. A line of phones. Petasus, the largest web retailer. New projects like H-leaks, an archive of leaked information on corporate corruption they maintain as a source for the common good; or the controversial H-spec augmented reality glasses. Hermes is everywhere, helpful, innovative, free when possible, affordable when not. It’s not a monopoly if they have competitors in every individual service they provide, right? Competitors who never manage to do as well as they do?

Agent Mandalia, by Mandy Jürgens

But there’s more you don’t realize until a black-suited woman you’ve never met before saunters up to you in the favorite bar of the supernatural community and asks you how it’s hanging. That’s how you meet Agent Mandalia: she’s on a mission to taste every form of alcohol in the world, has a tarantula called Robbie, and yes, her first name is Agent. And she’s here to offer you a job. Step into the world of spies, working for Homeland Data Management, because your skills have caught their eye. How, you don’t know. How she leaves herself as a contact on your phone, you don’t know.

It’s nothing too sketchy, she promises. No renditions, no assassinations, just perfectly legal surveillance. Good steady work.

Perfectly legal surveillance conducted with all the data collected by the biggest tech conglomerate in the world. Because ever since an obscure government ruling, HDM has had access to everything Hermes knows. Agent Mandalia works for the joint office. And now, if you choose to drop down this rabbit hole, so do you.

Oluchi, by Duncan Eagleson

Then again, so does Oluchi Emeagwali, and you can’t imagine any organization that Oluchi Emeagwali would work for being all that bad. A brilliant scientist and mage, specializing in cutting-edge robotics and AI, friendly, outgoing, devoted to the common good. About the only flaw he has, far as you can tell, is being a workaholic. He has a pet robot spider he built for fun. Agent Mandalia calls it Robo-Robbie.

Your boss–well, he’s a little more like what you’d expect from a strange joint surveillance office of technological spies. Ethan Rye is brusquely professional, a career operative, but for all that he’s a hardass in some ways, he’s very level-headed and tolerant of his office of eccentrics. He also just might be a werewolf.

Ethan Rye, by Marty Kulma

But the rabbit hole keeps going down and down. You have no idea where Ethan stands in the chain of command, or what he does when he’s out of the office for weeks at a time. The internet, Hermes is discovering, has a mind of its own: spontaneously emergent sites that appear and disappear in the bowels of the deep web, defying indexing or categorization. And you still don’t know who that man you met in your dreams was, with the dark eyes and the wide smile and the polo shirt, but for some reason you keep expecting to turn an office corridor and find him…

Play in the Hermes faction, or one of 9 others, in Susurrus: Season of Tides.

Meet the Factions: The Gandolfinis

Priscilla Gandolfini, by Jon Hunt

You knew about them almost before you knew anything else about this magical world you’ve found yourself swimming in: The Gandolfinis, the most influential crime family in the city. They’ve been around for generations, keeping a quiet handle on things: influencing the government, doing “business,” and, you figured, getting rid of people they didn’t like. But you never fully understood the extent of that last one until you walked out onto your street that morning, the morning before you changed, before everything changed. There was a face in the sidewalk, moving in slow agony, that you hadn’t been able to see before. “Poor guy pissed off the Gandolfinis,” a passer-by told you. Now, you can’t un-see it.

Since you’ve become a part of this magical underworld, the choices you’re making have been attracting attention. There are powerful forces at work, and they are looking for fresh recruits. Depending on your actions, you might receive a visit from Mr. Ferri.

Mr. Ferri, by Duncan Eagleson

He’s neat and unassuming in appearance, well-dressed but his suits are old, starting to go out at the elbows. He speaks in a way you know is designed to make you trust him.

You don’t trust him.

But if life on the inside of a major crime syndicate appeals to you, you can go to work for them.

They have a rather strange setup at the moment. Outwardly, they’re an Italian crime family like any other you might have heard of. Inwardly, they’re torn by a fundamental division: between the old and the new, the cautious and the aggressive, and – strangest of all – the mythical and the real.

The house patriarch, Giancarlo Gandolfini, has a peculiar delusion, you see. Or else, a peculiar plot that looks a lot like a delusion. He has decided – and Mr. Ferri is determined to promote the idea – that he is the literal god Pluto, of Greco-Roman Underworld fame. Which makes Priscilla Gandolfini – his niece, and current face of the organization – Persephone. But in spite of Mr. Ferri’s own insistence in the matter – after all, his name and position both lend themselves well to the role of Charon – Priscilla is not pleased with the development. When you are called to the mansion to meet the rather grand lady, you can see that she is caught in something larger than herself – something she is trying hard to steer back toward sanity.

Cheryl Gandolfini, by Duncan Eagleson

And then there’s the family’s three-headed hound, the 20-something siblings who haven’t quite decided what side they’re on. You know little so far except that they’re dangerous, but maybe the thing to do is get on their good side. Help them out, and maybe they’ll help you out.

The one thing you know for sure is that the only thing you want less than a pair of concrete shoes…is an entire concrete life.

Play with the Gandolfini faction, or one of 9 others, in Susurrus: Season of Tides.

Meet Red, the “young” vampire

Red, by Duncan Eagleson

Nice kid, that one who calls himself “Red.” Not something you ever thought you’d be saying about a vampire, but then, a few weeks ago you didn’t know you’d ever say anything about a vampire in real life. It’s just another sign of how strange things have gotten lately, that this toothy teenager with the eponymous shock of hair ignites a protective streak in you, fangs and immortality notwithstanding.

You met him in the close and quiet aisles of Conliffe, the antiques shop you’ve come to frequent when you’re looking for magical artifacts, or another clue from Rhys’ notebook of anomalies. While the proprietor eirself is a bit off-putting, Red is the opposite: sweet and welcoming and a little too open.

He tells you, if you ask, about how he was changed at the young age he now finds himself at for eternity. Some kind of joke, apparently: something an older, crueler man thought it would be cute to do the kid he was supposed to have taken under his wing. Red tells it without a trace of anger; it was a long time ago, but you feel it, just a bit, on his behalf. It’s the way he looks down when telling it, smiling slightly in that way that tells you it hurt him, but he doesn’t yet know you well enough to show how much.

You can’t help but wonder, too, whether one can ever truly get over something that happened to them at a young age, when they never get to leave that age.

In spite of all this, Red’s sunny disposition seems entirely genuine. He loves his work, loves his boss, and makes the best of every situation. Maybe, you think, getting to be a sweet young thing forever isn’t the worst thing that could happen to a person.

Definitely not the worst thing. You’ve seen many worse things in the past while.

But still you wonder. Who he was before. Where else he might have ended up. What he’ll do if Rhys decides to move on, what he might get mixed up in.  Whether wisdom comes with age even for those who don’t age. Whether his pluckiness and cheer are truly evergreen.

Whether he’ll survive what’s coming.

Learn more about Red, Rhys, and countless others when you play Susurrus: Season of Tides!

As requested: More of ‘L’ in Susurrus

Last week’s game update included, per player feedback, another quest to go on with ‘L,’ the mysterious vigilante who shows up to kick fifteen shades of ass shortly after your character’s awakening in Susurrus: Season of Tides. We like her, too.

For us, L is one of many examples in our game of characters who break certain molds for video game heroes. She’s female, for one thing; while female protagonists and supporting characters are on the rise in video games, it’s still somewhat rare to see a woman character show up in-game who is there to give beat-downs to bad guys without also being a skintight-clad sex object. (Not that we have anything against skintight outfits, but really, other outfits truly are possible!)

It’s also less than common for such a character to appear who doesn’t make some kind of move on the player character. While we plan, in the near future, to make certain NPCs romance-able, we also find it tiresome that the assumption for female characters continues to be that they show up to be the love interest.

So it’s not all that surprising that our player feedback tells us they love L: female, fiercely competent, combat-equipped, straightforward, and interested in how you can help her in the work she’s already doing. Granted, this shouldn’t be a rare thing, but at present, it still is.

There are more mysteries that are apt to unfold about this somewhat epic fighter; get to know her a bit better, and you’ll learn some interesting things about why she dresses as she does, and how she got so powerful. Find her in the latest update, and stay tuned for more character development, more story arc, more quests, and, well, more as we continue to add content to the Early Edition, every two weeks!

Play for free, now:

Play Susurrus: Season of Tides

The Harbinger

Harbinger, by Duncan Eagleson
Harbinger, by Duncan Eagleson

Nobody had seen the Harbinger before, not until recently. Now, it seems like they’re everywhere.

Not that folks would notice, so much. A strange figure – mostly for their total lack of strangeness. Average in height, build, skin color, gender presentation … relentlessly average, one might say. So much so that the figure is uncanny, odd in the way a humanoid robot might be, were it designed by aliens observing the totality of a city and attempting to create a Median Human.

In a way, in spite of the equally nondescript uniform of loose jeans and gray hoodie, this makes the Harbinger rather noticeable.

The conspicuousness of this being – who apparently goes by no actual name – is further increased by the fact that the Harbinger has approached every single person who has been Awakened in the past year. All of these troubled souls, stumbling into magic. The Harbinger comes to them, strange eyes burning, and speaks in an affectless tone.

“Everything is breaking,” they say, looking around as if observing the cracks in every living and non-living thing, “and the turning wheels are gaining terrible momentum.”

Life has been confusing enough of late, what with your recent transformation into a supernatural being, and the fallout destroying what vestiges of normal life you knew. But these vague portents and foreshadowings are downright agonizing.

Soon, though. Soon you will know more. You feel it, that if you just hold on in the storm of this city and its unremitting oddities – or maybe the oddities are in you; you’re not yet sure – that you will know more in time. This seeming construct, this Harbinger of you-know-not-what, is giving you another piece of the puzzle.

“Remember,” they say to you, just before disappearing down the alleyway, their furtive notes assembling into a full song, “Remember: the Ten and the Five.”

You’re quite sure, mostly sure, at least 34% sure, that it means something.

Susurrus: Season of Tides is coming! Play at beginning August 15 – and meet us at Gen Con from August 17-20!

Rhys, your (mostly) friendly neighborhood fae

Rhys, Evil Overlord GamesYou’re pretty sure you’ve never seen anyone quite like the taciturn clerk at the antique shop you’ve happened into.

It’s not so much the uncertain gender of the person; that’s something you’ve got enough experience with at this point in your life. It’s something else, something you might not have noticed before you were Awakened. Something in the odd fashion choices, the casual hoodie with the ornate choker necklace beneath. But most of all, something in the way their copper-colored eyes – practically golden, like a cat’s – look right into you.

Then, you introduce yourself.

“Well hello there,” says the clerk, with a voice similarly golden. “I’m Rhys. I use Elverson pronouns, I’m fae, and I own this place.”

The “fae” descriptor being slipped into the middle of the sentence doesn’t mean you miss it. Fae. You were still getting used to there being vampires, werewolves, mages…and of course, psychics. Now it seems there are faeries, too. There’s little to do at this point but shrug and move on.

Still, you’re curious. But Rhys – whose pronouns, by the way, are ey, em, eir, eirs, emself, like “they” with the “th” cut off, look it up, won’t you, it’s not all that difficult – isn’t as interested in talking about eir roots in Faerie. Nor whether there even is such a place. It’s where all the stories come from, is the most you can get out of em. Faerie, you know, just the source of most of human myth, no big.

But you sense that Rhys, who seems to run Conliffe Antiques as a kind of front for magical activities, has more to offer you than stories and a heavy dose of the uncanny. There are mysteries afoot, strange activity all over the city, and of course, people are awakening in droves. Rhys has definitely noticed, and is keeping track of anomalous occurrences around town. Perhaps there’s some way you can help.

Take care how you ask, though. As Rhys’ assistant Red tells you, Rhys is “amazing” and super-friendly, “as long as you don’t ask eir name, don’t pry into eir history, and stay away when ey’s in a bad mood.”

Super-friendly, in other words, for a faerie.

Meet Rhys and start unraveling the mysteries when you play Susurrus: Season of Tides and visit Conliffe Antiques! Play the early edition starting on August 17 at

Jared, the poet magician

Jared, by Duncan Eagleson

He’s the second thing you see when you open your eyes.

The first is a welter of scribbling on the wall beside you, a visual cacophony of symbols, hashes and curves. You try not to look at it for too long, as it starts to move and shape itself into new meanings if you stare for more than a few seconds.

You don’t remember doing that, but you’re fairly sure you did that.

You shut your eyes for a moment, then open them in a different direction. Your eyes fall on a young man, mostly gangles, slouched into a too-small school desk. He sits up, eyes widening behind chunky glasses, the thick tome he was holding in one slender hand lowering to the desk with a soft *plomp*.

“You’re awake,” he says, eyebrows peaked in concern. The word seems to reverberate, meanings breathing in and out.

“Yes,” you manage, “I think I am.”

He’s young, just college-age, and a student here at the University, where you’ve been brought for safekeeping after your “episode” last night. Turns out his transformation into a mage wasn’t much different from yours: sudden, destabilizing. But his was accidental: he already knew about mages and magic when a student’s work in the Alphabet got transmitted to him through uncareful, curious eyes. Yours was unexpected, for sure…but you’re fairly certain it was intentional. The question of “why” will have to wait.

Jared might not be the first person you imagine when you think “mage” or “wizard,” but given all that’s happened lately, it’s not all that surprising that a young poet, obsessed with language and understanding the deep nature of things, would find joy in being a mage. It helps him write, he says, and he shows you how a certain kind of focus can reveal every detail about a situation in a fraction of a second. Counting grains of sand may be a waste of time, but with this power, you don’t have to: the total understanding of how many grains there are, what colors and shapes, what they’re made of, where they were born – it all comes to you at once like a wave hitting your mind. The sensation – a kind of purity of knowledge that flares white behind your eyes – is something like erotic.

It’s all a bit much, frankly. But Jared, at least for now, will be your guide. It will have to do.

Meet Jared and countless other characters when you play a Mage in Susurrus: Season of TidesSign up now to play the game early.