Meet the Factions: Vanguard Sol

What airfield? I don’t see any airfield.

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?

Imani Leveque, by Marty Kulma

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.

Adam Brown, by Marty Kulma

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.

Skyler Jarrett, by Duncan Eagleson

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.

Just how Cosmic is that Coffee?

There’s one on every corner, or so it seems. That retro spinning Saturn; that loopy text: Cosmic Coffee calls your caffeine-fueled cells home to its embrace most weekday mornings. True to its name, it seems to be not just the center of the universe but also its edges, and like the universe, its edges are ever-expanding.

This was not always so.

Another company so pervasive as to constitute some percentage of the air you breathe, The Keane Candy Company, also wasn’t nearly so popular in the past.  Founded nearly eighty years ago, its products did not receive wide distribution until it was bought by a certain food service giant. The same one, of course, that owns Cosmic Coffee and many other familiar brands.

Keane Candy. You know, Tum-Tums? Small, spherical confections, the bag-bottom detritus of any Halloween haul, and the lollipops you’ve seen on the desk of every bank you’ve ever been to. Cheap sweets, the sop to every impatient, fidgeting child who has ever had to wait for their parent to finish doing their boring, adult business. If you look inside the wrappers, there are sometimes coded messages. Most take no notice, thinking it akin to a cereal-box-top marketing game, a toy in the package of caramel corn.

Look deeper.

In your local Cosmic Coffee – the one you frequent – there’s a barista with iridescent eyes and a beard of prey. He’s always been nice enough, but there’s also always seemed to be more to him. Or rather: since that morning when you woke from the dream, the morning that began the descent into all this madness. The morning you became what you Are now, what you had no choice but to become.

He knew you. He saw you, somehow. Even if you managed to evade his deeper scrutiny, you know you didn’t get by him that day, not completely. He’s one of you, somehow. These days, you can always tell.

You’re not sure what that means about Cosmic Coffee, or Keane Candy, or any of the other products that make up the warp and weft of mundane, modern reality. There’s an overlay to everything, now, a transparent glow of the non-mundane. Everything seems infused with it, these days. What are they putting in the coffee? What do the symbols on the candy wrappers mean? Would you like to see the secret menu?

How deep does it all go?

Look closer.


Go deeper into the mystery. Play for free at SusurrusGame.com

The Lady of Unforgettable Forgetting, or, Who Wants to be a Vampire?

Mara, by Duncan Eagleson.

Mara.

Her name follows you through your day, like a song you can’t get out of your head.

You first see her playing in the middle of the city square, her lute and lilting voice somehow the only things you hear in spite of the noise and bustle. Her eyes meet yours for a moment, and that brief look plays in your head over and over, a lightning-like jolt that whites over your vision for a second, warming your scalp, then spreading through your body like warm honey.

It is profoundly distracting, if not entirely disagreeable.

You see her again in the Cosmic Coffee, a surprisingly tiny figure with black hair swept away from her striking, pale-brown face, showcasing those hypnotic eyes which, you realized even from afar in Hamilton Square, are purple.

She sees you, recognizes you. She speaks with you for a while, drinks a coffee redolent with cinnamon. Her voice reaches up inside you, and you fear it might pull something out onto the coffeehouse floor.

But before you can get to know her further, she is called away, her phone as much a tether to her as to ordinarily mortals like yourself. She’s made no secret, either in her manner or her conversation, of the fact that she is no such creature.

When next you see her, it will be too close. When next you see her, she will change you. And once you’ve changed, once she links you, forever, to the long chain of blood that leads back further than you can even comprehend, everything will have changed.

Including your ever having met her.

When you awake, weak and starving for something you’ve never before craved, your memory of how you got there will dissipate. Perhaps there was a woman…but no. Gone.

Her name escapes you, the syllables fading like a song you can’t quite place.


Meet Mara and other intriguing companions when you play as a vampire in the upcoming Susurrus: Season of Tides. Our Early Edition game arrives on August 17, at Gen Con 50. Play with us early by joining here.