Ticket Outta Here Storyline

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Submitted storylines have been fleshed out in detail and are ready for review by the other developers. Once they have been reviewed and agreed upon, they become established storylines.


Contents

A Ticket Outta Here

"I just can't believe it turned out to be nuclear, y'know? Nuclear had had its day, the Union was collapsing, and now it was all about global warming, global epidemics, supervolcanoes, Malthusian decline. Nuclear holocausts were so passe...so dead. That's irony for you, I suppose." Tessa

Taking zenbitz' Ice Age storyline-framework as the, uh, framework; a storyline in which the player's aim is not, however, to try to save the rapidly-freezing environment around them, but to try and escape from it. The days are getting colder and there's no easy refuges; week by week, the world around the player is becoming uninhabitable. The player comes across an opportunity to escape - a 'ticket' for one person only, but has no idea how to use it; the game, then, becomes about discovering how to escape without alerting others who might themselves wish to escape, and kill the player to get that chance.

...and, of course, it would deal with the ethical implications of the player's escaping but leaving all those they've encountered to die; seeing just how far hope for survival in a world filled with the inevitability of death can drive somebody.

Prologue

“How long do you intend to remain idle? I’m serious, boy - don’t give me that look. Nineteen months since, rest her bones, Helena Laine blew her brains out in the stairwell. And we sit here, we score money off the whores and the drunks, we play whist…a man’s got to have a purpose. Life isn’t all about the games we play. And every year, boy, it gets colder.” Matti - example opening lines.

The player is sitting in the back room of Last Orders, his seedy bar in a small, frozen ghost town in the north, playing cards with his old friend, part-owner Matti. Once the introductory conversation is complete, he strolls out into his bar, and completes a few small dialog-based quests with the characters inside.

The player then has free reign to explore the town of Webber’s Post – before stepping out into the woods beyond on a minor errand to check the fuel station. Inside, bleeding and hypothermia-ridden, is a dying man. With his final breath, he hisses something to the player about the existence of a paradise - ‘Bifrost’, a refuge against the encroaching snow with an inexhaustible power supply - and that only one person will be allowed to enter. He presses, bloodily, a golden scrap of paper into the player’s hand. A ticket.

Main Plot Bulk

From here the story is one of initiative on the player’s part; they can hang around Webber’s Post, kicking their heels near-indefinitely…but sooner or later they will be driven to ask about Bifrost, which appears to be gathering popularity as a legend amongst travellers from the north. The most-told version is that it’s a hidden city where scientists have found a way to hold back the cold, with immense power reserves and prosperity – the final refuge against the snow. And, it’s said, occasionally tickets are handed out secretly to lucky people who are chosen as being of benefit to society, who are then given leave to enter.

Some of the cynical folk say it’s a lie told to stop the children from giving up hope. But there are those who claim to know people who’ve gone there, and never returned.

The player explores openly, their path being very gently suggested to be north, further into the wilds, getting colder all of the time. Gradually, the player is led into alliance or enmity with several of the main factions.

The player may also (if possible) recruit party members. Much can be made of the value of this ticket – this chance for one person to escape inevitable death. Should the player tell them about it? If so, will they try and kill the player and take it for themselves?

Eventually the player, through growing close to one of the faction leaders, may learn one of two pieces of information about Bifrost. One piece of information (The main branch of the 'Hope' ending) is that Bifrost is the codename of a boat which arrives in a secret location once a year and which, apparently, takes 'special' citizens away to an unknown country near the Equator that's still relatively warm. The other piece of information (The 'Despair' branch) suggests, more vaguely, that the gossip may refer to a city, far away on the ice to the north-east.

Climax (Hope)

The player makes for the pick-up location for the Bifrost boat and lights the beacon. As they wait, they may be ambushed (depending on their choices) by an NPC who wants the ticket for themselves, they may be betrayed by a party member for similar reasons, the boat may come without their being ambushed or betrayed, or they may actually decide to give the ticket to one of their party members - giving them another chance at life.

In the first instances, the game ends with the player escaping onto the boat. In the last instance, the game will give the player a chance at some closure through dialog (i.e., the party member would ask the player what they're going to do with themselves), and end with the player watching the boat depart.

Climax (Despair)

The player heads to the north-east, crossing a great frozen ice-sea, until they come at last to an enormous iron fortress, smoke billowing from its chimneys. 'Bifrost'. Nobody is anywhere to be seen.

Inside, however, they find only ash - and a vast furnace, once used for burning horses (thanks, Gaspard!) now used as a euthanasia device. Victims step inside and are instantly consumed by the heat - wiped away into nothingness. And their ashes feed the furnace itself. An Ourobouros.

The only true escape from the encroaching cold, it is implied, is to die.

At this point, an NPC may ambush the player, as before, depending on their actions, leading to a climactic conversation/fight. It is likely the NPC will be horrified that the great refuge of Bifrost is nothing more than a murder-device.

Afterwards, the player may return to the wilds, having given up hope - or they may step into the Ourobouros, and be consumed.

Aims

Essentially, I loved zenbitz' base, bleak concept of an RPG about a world that cannot be saved; a world that's dying slowly. I loved it so much I didn't even want the main plotline to be about trying to save the world...I wanted it to be about surviving.

What I like about this basic plot (though plenty needs fixing) is the fact that it really opens up the issues of hope and despair. How do people react with a death sentence on their heads? How do they react when they discover that the sentence may be repealed, even if it's only for a few decades?

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