A Letter to the Pilgrims of the Flying Temple

I’m a backer of Daniel Solis’ kid-friendly RPG Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple over on Kickstarter, and this morning I noticed an invitation for backers to contribute some story seeds to the project. It’s hard for me to pass up a chance to do some quick, fun world-building and storytelling, so here’s what I put together over lunch:

Dear Pilgrims of the Flying Temple,

My name is Sister Yo, and I write to you from the Scrollshome Valley monastery, where we have quite a problem!

For one hundred years the monks of Scrollshome Valley have explored the ancient ruins in the valley, recorded the knowledge they discovered, and stored the facts of history in our village’s labyrinthine library. (Seriously, it’s a maze–if you have to go in search of a really old scroll, bring snacks!) I’m only twelve, but already I’ve been given an important job, recording the birthdays of each and every child in the entire valley, adding their names to all the other events of the past quietly awaiting the eyes of the future inside our walls. It was a peaceful and ordered life.

Then the Dancing Moon Company of actors and musicians arrived in Scrollshome Valley, led by famed actor Polobious Gant. Their plays might have merely provided an amusing diversion for the people of our village, but the actors travelled in the company of their patron, the great and powerful Spirit Juwheya. When the company stages one of their plays, Spirit Juwheya enjoys and believes what he is seeing so much that his magic causes it to become real! Feathers sprout on paper costumes and actors take to the air, while the wooden swords of actresses are suddenly enchanted steel wielded by mighty warrior women. These fancies were things of wonder–until the night the actors’ cart-oxen was transformed into a bull-headed dragon that set fire to our market! The magic fades with the first light of sunrise–but the damage to our village remains, as does the gemstone Spirit Juwheya leaves for Polobious Gant each night as a reward.

Elder Oleon and our guiding council have asked the Dancing Moon Company to stop presenting plays and move on to another village. But the Dancing Moon will not–cannot, Polobious Gant says–continue on until Spirit Juwheya chooses to… and who can say what will move a thirty-foot tall spirit made of dust, wind, and lightning? Spirit Juwheya rarely speaks, only wandering silently about Scrollshome Valley each day to explore its ruins before returning to the village for that night’s performance. Elder Oleon even made sure that none of the people of the village came to the plays of the Dancing Moon for a week, but they care little as long as Spirit Juwheya attends and is amused.

Polobious Gant often pens new plays for the Dancing Moon to help keep Spirit Juwheya entertained, and now he has begun work on a new play. Perhaps Elder Oleon has pushed Gant too far or too often, but I’m told Gant’s new tale tells of the early days of our village, when a young boy must decide between chasing his mind’s desire to record the history of the valley, or follow his heart to distant lands and become an actor. This is the story of Elder Oleon as a boy when he explored the ancient ruins of the valley before founding the monastery and our village, though young Oleon never desired to become an actor.

But what if Spirit Juwheya’s magic makes Gant’s play turn real? What if the play rewrites history? If Oleon becomes an actor, there will be no Scrollshome monastery, no village, and everything we know will change!

I write to you Pilgrims, whose exploits border on fiction yet I’m told are true. Can you come and make peace between history-writers who record the truth and tale-tellers who live lies? Can you make contact with a spirit who cares little for what goes on around him unless it happens on a stage–and then unleashes magical chaos? Can you give our village, our monastery, and our people a future instead of a past that never happened?

I hope that you will come visit soon.

Sister Yo

If playing out that story sounds like fun to you, you might join me as a backer of the game over on Kickstarter. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait and play it with me once the game comes out!

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If you’re reading the Funlab you probably know most or all of this already, but HeroClix World asked me to write up a short article on what I’ve been up to since leaving WizKids.

It’s only when I stop to write up a summary like that that I realize how busy I’ve been. I really do deserve a nap. But first, there’s that deadline to attend to…

Booklife: On Writing and Gaming

The more games I play, the more I come to understand how a great game’s mechanics and metaphor work together to generate really satisfying experiences for players. In turn, that’s helped me hone my instincts as a writer, understanding how structure and setting work together to create great stories…

Along with a number of other contributors to Green Ronin’s FAMILY GAMES: THE 100 BEST, I was interviewed by one of the editors for Jeff Vandermeer’s great site Booklife who wanted to talk about writing and game design.

My interview was posted today, and you can check it out here to see me talk about what writers can learn about game design and give a shoutout to some of my favorite recent storygames.