Meet the Factions: Vanguard Sol

Vampires, werewolves, and mages – check. Faeries, check. Mystically-inclined secret societies vying for control of a supernatural underworld – check. You’ve gotten used to this reality pretty quickly. You’ve had to.

So why not aliens?

Vanguard Sol, perhaps the most secretive of the organizations you can join in Susurrus: Season of Tides, is dedicated to tracking the activities of the extraterrestrial life already on our planet. More importantly, they are dedicated to keeping this knowledge hidden from the general public.

Maybe you were a “the truth is out there” type even before your transformation, before the world, which always seemed topsy-turvy, turned definitively upside-down for you personally. Or maybe you were a skeptic, believing that however wacky things on Earth got, there were only other Earthlings to blame.

But now that you’ve seen the magical underbelly of everything…what’s one more conspiracy theory among friends?

Not that Vanguard Sol’s mission doesn’t seem completely legit. Their leader is a liberal US Senator, Imani Leveque, whose scientific background and capable, grounded presence lend immense credibility to the organization. The recovered alien technology you’ve seen so far – holographic shields that disguise black sites as construction pits, hoverboots like something out of a scifi epic – convinces you of yet a different brand of magic sweeping the world you thought you knew. It’s all rather exciting, frankly, and doesn’t even feel like you’re doing anything wrong.

Except the secrecy part. It’s hard, for more reasons than one. Hard to keep quiet about something so spectacular, hard to not shout from the rooftops that truly, literally, there are aliens, people!!

Hard too, though, to know that if most people knew what you were working on, they’d think you were out of your mind.

Also…well, you’re not entirely sure you’re not. For all the incredible artifacts Vanguard Sol has collected, for all the coverups they’ve staged, for all the fear-driven faith you’ve seen in your short time with them…they’ve never had unambiguous, actual alien contact. You’ve seen Senator Leveque and other high-level people express worry that the aliens have already infiltrated us. But given what else you’ve seen so far…it could be anything, couldn’t it?

On the other hand, it’s hard to believe that the man who recruited you, Adam Brown, is anything other than an alien. (If he were, would Vanguard Sol tell you?) He’s more generic than any human should be, so bland and unremarkable that you forget what he looks like every time he leaves the room. He seems harmless enough, you guess, but with a group that keeps such huge secrets as part of its SOP, it’s hard to say.

The most normal-seeming part of all this is your partner in the organization, Skyler Jarrett. She’s a bundle of nerves, a sweet, over-enthusiastic hacker geek who fell into Vanguard Sol by accident. Seems she was investigating a little too hard with her group of conspiracy theorist friends, and they offered her a deal: join and keep quiet, or. She doesn’t talk much about the Or.

She does talk, though – an awful lot – about nearly everything else. And it’s this, perhaps more than anything else, that endears her to you: unlike the whole rest of the organization, Skyler is anything but tight-lipped. And for that reason alone, you have a feeling you’re going to have to protect her before too long.


Do you want to believe? Play in Vanguard Sol and any of nine other factions in Susurrus: Season of Tides, free on any web browser.

GDC welcomes its Evil Overlords

The Evil Overlord seeks an opportunity, under cover of night, to gank a Speaker badge

We sent an Evil Emissary to the Game Developers Conference (GDC) this year, and it was a thrilling time. We showed the game to a number of Conference Associates (the splendid minions that help the conference run for the attendees), attended many useful talks, and said hello to some of our Massachusetts cohort at the Made in Mass party. It was all rather splendid.

GDC is a special event, in that it’s a developer-facing gathering, rather than a fan-facing one. This also makes it incredibly expensive to attend, but one of our ranks took on a volunteering slot with the Conference Associates program for the second year running, which meant an all access pass to the show in exchange for a lot of working hours.

Luckily, there are off hours too. So while we couldn’t manage a booth, we had some time to share Susurrus with fellow attendees and developers, folks we chatted up at parties, and so on.

The Evil Overlord takes a moment at the IGF and Developers Choice Awards to take a selfie

It was fantastic to watch a very narratively-driven game, Night in the Woods, take not only the Excellence in Narrative IGF award, but the Seumus McNally Grand Prize as well. More and more, people are looking for great stories in their video game experiences, and in many ways, the indie world is leading the charge in the growing-up of the industry.

In other ways, growing up – in the sense of leaving “childish things” behind – is nowhere in sight. The spirit of play and exploration was alive and well throughout the conference. While many of the talks were focused on Serious Industry Business(tm), the feel of the interactive experiences like the Indie Megabooth, Day of the Devs, and Mild Rumpus reminded us why we do this. There’s nothing quite like the smiles, laughter, and wonder of people discovering through play.

Gay drawing conspiracies are the best conspiracies.

We hope to see you at upcoming events, like the Made in MA at PAX East party, where we’ll be showing off Susurrus: Season of Tides on the first day of the biggest gaming event in Boston! Come play!

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: The Church of Eternal Life

Maybe he is a bit of a shill…

There are a lot of factions out there – 10, in fact – fighting for dominance over the magical underworld of the city. Most of them are pretty creepy, in your experience. Since you’ve Awakened to your new life, you’ve been courted from all directions, most of them unsavory. There’s organized crime, mass surveillance, questionable genetic experiments, and who knows what-all. But the Church of Eternal Life? Oh it smells like a cult, sure, even more than it smells like patchouli. Sometimes its members seem just a little too happy. But you reserve judgment. For the most part, the place feels like a mostly-innocent haven for lost souls seeking the truth. You haven’t bought all the way in, yet, but no harm in working for a bunch of hippies trying to reach a higher plane, right?

The Church’s leader, Guru Dan, is an odd one. He wants everyone to see him as this loving spiritual advisor, who wants you to get to a point of “greater peace with yourself.” You can’t see anything wrong with that, exactly, though you always feel just a little unsure of things when you leave Dan’s presence. Plus, he has some strange ideas about life and death that are…questionable. Long story short, you don’t know if you can trust him or not, but as these things go, he doesn’t seem particularly dangerous. Honestly, he just isn’t the type of guy to have a world domination plan. (You don’t know what he hides in his dreads, but you’re pretty sure it isn’t a doomsday weapon.) Sure, maybe he’s a little too charismatic, even with the slightly orange spray-tan. But you don’t let it affect you. To your mind, the Church is a great place to be who you (now) are, get steady work, and not worry about doing a lot of harm. Nobody was ever killed by a leaflet, and you haven’t seen any Kool-Aid at the office parties. Maybe Dan has some minorly evil plans? You can’t bring yourself to worry about it that much.

 

Shalini, though – she’s the one who recruited you – she’s a true-believer. She’s so touchy-feely and new-agey that it’s hard to take at times, but she’s just so earnest.  If anyone knows the good that the Church of Eternal Life can do, it’s Shalini Vipattiwala. She’s gotten real hope and guidance from this place, and holds together a community of others in the Church who have found the same thing. Her every utterance may be florid and rife with platitudes, but it’s clear that she believes it all. It’s hard not to love her a little, even when she’s saccharine enough to make you puke. And it’s hard to believe that someone like Shalini could be involved in anything truly bad.

Then again, perhaps she just doesn’t know. You don’t, after all.

Once you join the Church you are given a partner in crime – uh, in missions – named Leaf. His initial appearance shakes you: his face is half burn-scars, half cold and dour expression. He does not speak, but instead communicates in a seemingly personal sign language, which further throws you until you realize he is translating directly into your mind.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Another true-believer, he was brought in by Shalini as well, and has found great peace and comfort in what the Church provides. He probably won’t be thrilled to discover that there’s anything wrong in this storefront sanctuary, though as a vampire, his life and death problem has already been solved.

What will you do about yours?


Play in the Church of Eternal Life or two of ten other factions in Susurrus: Season of Tidesfree on any browser. Join us; together we will live forever. 

How puzzling! The Susurrus ARG puzzle at Intercon – and at home

Winners of the Susurrus puzzle at Gen Con

Back in August, we did our first run of the Susurrus puzzle, a light alternate reality game which led players into the interlocked conspiracies that characterize the world of Susurrus: Season of Tides. (Above are two proud puzzle-solvers.)

This weekend, at Intercon, we’ll be running it as a kind of light hallway larp. However, we’re also inviting folks to play along at home.

Want to join us? Go to each of the three links below to begin. Find the clues that lead you deeper into the puzzle, and the game itself will guide you to the next steps.

Have fun, and let us know what you find!

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.

Get your T-shirts and other swag at our new Merch Shop!

A Surprise Guest, by Duncan Eagleson
A Surprise Guest, by Duncan Eagleson

We at Evil Overlord Games have been working hard to assemble a brilliant selection of Evil Swag for your enjoyment! To that end, we are proud to introduce our new Threadless Artist Shop!

Guru Dan, from the Church of Eternal Life
We all want to live forever, don’t we?

Through the shop, you can order fine art prints of Duncan Eagleson’s fantastic concept art for Susurrus: Season of Tides. Or, get T-shirts with our logo, the Susurrus logo, or a reproduction of Guru Dan’s shirt from the Church of Eternal Life. (Patchouli sold separately.)

Grab a mug of your favorite hot beverage and cozy up with Cody, or any of the companions or elders from the game. Sport the Evil Logo on your phone, journal, or water bottle. Or let your fellow beach-goers know that you’re evil with an Evil Overlord beach towel. (Yes, really.)

As we build out the shop, we’ll be adding more products, so you can get your favorite character portraits on a T-shirt, or get a print of That One Piece of Art that you love from the game.

Meanwhile, check it out and have a click around. We think you’ll find something you like!

 


Play the newest content at Susurrus: Season of Tides. And find your next fabulous t-shirt at our new Evil Shop!