Alexis Kennedy's Cultist Simulator

Since leaving Failbetter, Alexis Kennedy has been working on a new project, Cultist Simulator: Behold Our End. It’s exactly what it sounds like.

[quote=Alexis Kennedy, July 12, 2017]It’s a game of apocalypse and yearning – a digital narrative boardgame about trying to destroy the world, but also about the reasons you’d want to do that, and the things that are missing from the world.

…if you want a game where you can paint nightmarish visions or crush investigators or betray your fellow cultists or feed unnamable hungers or travel behind the walls of the world or retire to live a cosy life with your children or drown the cities in terrible light

…if you fancy something a little like Fallen London without the F2P and grind

…or if you wanted more of the Uttermost East content in Sunless Sea, or the Mr Eaten content in Fallen London

… then pop your name into the mailing list, and I’ll tell you about the Kickstarter when it’s ready. And also about my collaborators, about the Cultist Simulator Perpetual Edition, about Noon, and about the journal of Teresa Galmier.[/quote]
The kickstarter is tentatively scheduled to begin in September. There’s also a free, very basic Alpha available for download on the website.
.
edited by Anne Auclair on 7/17/2017

It’s been dormant for a while (since until a week or so ago there was very little activity in development) but there is a fledgling thread for it over here as well. :)

The Kickstarter is definitely worth keeping an eye on, even for FL-only fans - Alexis floated the idea that one of the reward tiers might be him answering any question (NDAs notwithstanding) about any game he’s worked on.
edited by Barse on 7/17/2017

Alexis will resume work on it in August, he’s currently occupied with a stint over at Bioware, IIRC.

I like the concept of the game, and the Alpha seems promising. But that’s about all it seems, since I can’t get past the first 10 minutes of play because eventually the b____y game ends up freezing or getting stuck.
To anyone playing the alpha: take extreme care not to drop the cards over any of the token fields, else you’ll be unable to pick up or drag cards anymore and restarting will be the only remainder option.

Probably he’s sometimes like Oatmeal (the panel above the share ID) so I’ll just wait here for more newsletters from TWF. Even if it’s not a fascinating NL, Alexis sure offers an interesting palette of subjects; specially that tween where he mentioned John Carpenter (worth checking him out)!

[quote=Barse]I
The Kickstarter is definitely worth keeping an eye on, even for FL-only fans - Alexis floated the idea that one of the reward tiers might be him answering any question (NDAs notwithstanding) about any game he’s worked on.
edited by Barse on 7/17/2017[/quote]

This has now been confirmed.

I am now flirting with the idea of paying the hundred quid KS price to get an answer to one question. If I can think of a worthwhile one. (Any ernest but broke fans who have a question they’re dying to ask?)

Will everything truly be well in the end?

“Linux version, barely tested” has the same rhytm in my mind’s ear as “baby shoes, never worn”, so of course I tried it out. It actually turned on, which is more than I can say about most Linux alpha-version games, and seems fascinating but… has anyone else found the interface maddening (not in a good, exciting way) and prone to cluttering? I found myself constantly trying to zoom out to see a bigger fragment of the board.

Genuinely not sure if it’s the UI design or me doing something wrong.

Is A Paramount Presense in game and can it be accesed by people? People have kinda given up on ever finding it.

Alternatively, how does one become A Paramount Presence within Fallen London? If he says it’s impossible that answers the question, if he says how that gives the path if it is possible.
edited by TeslaWalker on 7/25/2017

Paramount Presence is already in the game, or something like it anyway.
Try overcapping a stat to 215 and check the Unfinished Business of that stat

[quote=The Soft-Hearted Revolutionary]Paramount Presence is already in the game, or something like it anyway.
Try overcapping a stat to 215 and check the Unfinished Business of that stat[/quote]
There’s absolutely no evidence yet that Paramount Presence exists in the game, let alone that the new additions to Unfinished Business lead to it.

However, if it exists, the new additions are probably the most likely path to it.

[quote=dov][quote=The Soft-Hearted Revolutionary]Paramount Presence is already in the game, or something like it anyway.
Try overcapping a stat to 215 and check the Unfinished Business of that stat[/quote]
There’s absolutely no evidence yet that Paramount Presence exists in the game, let alone that the new additions to Unfinished Business lead to it.

However, if it exists, the new additions are probably the most likely path to it.[/quote]
It’s very likely a step to it, but it’s probably the first of many

[quote=Kylestien]
Is A Paramount Presense in game and can it be accesed by people? People have kinda given up on ever finding it.[/quote]

Alexis wrote he’ll answer LORE. Don’t think this qualifies…
Also, what new addition at stat 215?

Here’s one that’s been bugging me.
What WAS the name? It was Mr Candles. It currently is Mr eaten.
But what was their name before the first city fell?
Before the Bazaar even entered the Neath?

For all of the Seeking Mr. Eaten’s name, I don’t think we ever find out what the name actually is.
Or was, considering circumstance.

If you overcap a main stat to 215 (i.e. use up 15 Notability), then there’s a new option in the Unifinished Business corresponding to that stat.

See this thread.

One thing that really interests me is the game’s cosmology.

There are naturally seven occult principles, personified as Hours, which permeate the visible and invisible world, and which you will have to navigate in order to achieve either otherworldly enlightenment or power.

Lantern ‘Life is pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us.’ – Thomas Browne. [Lantern is the principle of the Mansus, and the light above it]

Heart The Heart Relentless beats to protect the skin of the world we understand. [The Heart is the principle that continues and preserves]

Knock The Knock permits no seal and no isolation. It thrusts us gleefully out of the safety of ignorance. [the knock is the principle that opens doors and exposes secrets]

Grail Hunger, lust, the drowning waters. [the principle of the Red Grail demands to be fed]

Moth I knew a man who captured months in a bell-jar. On nights like this, he would release them one by one to die in a candle. [Moth is the wild and perilous principle of chaos and yearning]

Forge ‘Fire,’ I once read, ‘is the winter that warms and the spring that consumes.’ [the Forge of Days transforms and destroys]

Edge All conquest occurs at the Edge. The one who dwells there cannot see and cannot hear; cannot be wounded and cannot be denied. [Edge is the principle of contention and battle]

Guess which one is the Mr. Eaten one?

The Mansus is the central meeting place, frequented by various powers and the Hours. The terrible light above the Mansus is referred to as the Glory – it is regularly likened to the sun, but it seems a lot more dangerous. Apparently human souls originate in the Mansus and return upon the death of their mortal bodies. The Heart Relentless and the Forge of Ages are both principles and distinct things, not unlike the Mansus, and seem to have a sort of yin and yang thing going (the Heart continues/preserves the world, the Forge transforms/destroys it). Knock has some sort of association or relationship with a power referred to only as ‘the Mother of Ants,’ which occultists call upon to gain access to the invisible world. Moth is the symbol and principle of the Wood, but it is also just one Wood dwelling, Mansus walking Hour among many (albeit perhaps the most important one). Grail appears to have a lesser avatar in the Red Cup, which is a powerful Hour of birth and blood. Edge we know the least about, but it seems to be a specific place. It might be the border place between the Woods and the Mansus, both which have no walls and hence no boundaries, but which are somehow distinct from each other.

Alexis has posted a very rough, but appropriately mysterious map of what this invisible world may look like when fully fleshed out.

The Lantern is associated with human Reason, the Moth with Passion, and Heart with Health and Fleeting Memories. Heart and Lantern are together associated with Contentment. Fleeting Memories and Contentment can be used to repair one’s damaged consciousness (Unreason). Enthusiastic disciples are affiliated with Heart, dreamy disciples belong to Knock, and ruthlessly cunning disciples dwell on the Edge.

Fascination results from a nightmare of the Cleansing Dawn (Lantern), while Insomnia results from a dream where you choose to go under the white floor boards (Knock). Starvation destroys health, but opens one up to communication with the Red Cup (Grail). All three menace cards weaken the character by consuming reason or health, but they also open you up to further occult experiences (Fascination, Starvation) or help you defend yourself from attack (Insomnia). This suggests a crucial part of the game will be balancing your menace states by finding the right amount of self-destructive behavior to engage in. For example, you might be more productive if you treated your Insomnia…but what if something came for you in the night while you were asleep?

Each principle has an appropriate fragment of lore, though only five have currently been implemented. Lantern - Mansus Glimpse, Knock - Consent of Wounds, Grail - the Delightful Sacrament, - Forge - Ardent Prayers, and Moth - Wood Whispers.
.
edited by Anne Auclair on 8/9/2017


The Watchman is the Door in the Eye. He opens the way for the willing and for the unwilling. He is often the first Hour that we supplicate. He is always in white.

Alexis has begun working to get the word out in earnest. Anyone who is into social media might be interested in this here.
.
edited by Anne Auclair on 8/1/2017

http://weatherfactory.biz/the-locksmiths-dream-1923-edition/

[color=rgb(135, 135, 135)]If you lived in the first half of the twentieth century, and you wanted to find a way into the Mansus, you probably owned a copy of this book. It began life as a catalogue of unusual parallels in the dreams of artisans, but by the time of Volume 2 (‘Portions and Proportions’) it amounted to a survey of the Mansus’ outer layers. Consequently, the Long suppressed it, and I’m taking a bit of a chance by sharing this picture. [/color][color=rgb(135, 135, 135)]I found it in a bookshop in Camden Lock Market. Galmier actually lived in Camden for a couple of years, after the court case, tutoring undergraduates in Italian and writing furious letters to the local paper. I don’t know where she went after that. But this edition was published in 1923: the year she passed the Spider’s Door.[/color]

[color=#878787]
[/color]



Alexis really is a master in the game of &quotinvent-arcane-artifacts-and-drive-people-crazy-with-obscure-hints&quot ;)

[quote=phryne]
Alexis really is a master in the game of &quotinvent-arcane-artifacts-and-drive-people-crazy-with-obscure-hints&quot ;)[/quote]

Yes he is. My favorite part of the Cultist Simulator prototype is the books.


The Locksmith’s Dream: a Light through the Keyhole

Discovery Text: The first volume of ‘The Locksmith’s Dream.’ A recent, but intriguing work, handsomely bound in gold-tooled calf-leather.

Card Text: The first volume of Teresa Galmier’s examination of parallels in the mystic dreams of artisans.

Study Text: No-one has ever explained why Galmier devoted herself to this quixotic exploration of artisan’s dreams.

Quote: “Time and again we hear of the Wood, which rises from the world’s foundation. All trees reach for light. What does the Wood reach for?”

Lore: Mansus Glimpse


The Locksmith’s Dream: Portions and Proportions

Discovery Text: The second volume of ‘The Locksmith’s Dream.’ A recent, but intriguing work, handsomely bound in gold-tooled calf-leather. The frontispiece, however, has been slashed with a razor.

Card Text: The second volume of Teresa Galmier’s examination of parallels in the mystic dreams of artisans.

Study Text: In this volume, Galmier records fewer dreams, and explicates more of her own elaborate theories.

Quote: “Thus the essence of these visions: what is below can’t escape what is above.”

Lore: Consent of Wounds

Using Consent of Wounds with the Rite of the Watchman’s Sorrow allows you to pay a brief visit to the outer layers of the Mansus. Using it with the Rite of the Crucible of the Soul allows you to summon the Hour of the Red Cup into your body. So she really did find a key - it’s not wonder her second book was suppressed.

[/u][/b]
De Horis [Volume 1]

Discovery Text: A nineteenth-century reprint of a fourteenth-century Latin translation of a fourth-century catalogue of secret gods.

Card Text: An occasionally coherent catalogue of the secret gods, organized by hour. This is a reprint, but in the original Latin.

Translation Text: An enigmatic work: even more enigmatic in Latin.

Study Text: This volume deals mostly with the Hours of the Wood: the Moth, the Black-Flax, the Ring-Yew, among others.

Quote: “The Glory is a question, and the Moth always answers Yes. The Black-Flat’s answer is No, and that is always its answer.”

Lore: Wood Whispers

The Orchid Transfigurations (‘a feast’)

Discovery Text: The first volume of the ‘Orchid Transfigurations.’ A sixteenth-century alchemical fever-dream, frequently banned for the disturbing allure of its illustrations.

Card Text: An original edition of a compilation of quasi-Rosicrucian allegories, supposedly by Robert Fludd. This is the original Latin.

Translation Text: It seems unlikely that this is Fludd. Fludd would write better Latin.

Study Text: The illustrations are certainly striking. They flush the skin and glow beneath the eyelids after the book is closed.

Quote: “We must devour to be devoured. We cannot be undevoured, as we cannot be unborn.”

Lore: The Delightful Sacrament

Traveling at Night (Vol. 1)

Discovery Text: The dream-journal of Christopher Illopoly, sometimes called ‘the only readable occultist.’

Card Text: The annotated dream-journals of Christopher Illopoly.

Study Text: Illopoly’s work is literate, entertaining, and bewildering.

Quote: “The Wood lies outside the walls of the Mansus. As any student of the Histories knows, the Wood has no walls.”

Lore: Wood Whispers

Six Letters on Necessity

Discovery Text: A printed edition of the Six Letters of Necessity. A small volume of the correspondence of a seventeenth-century magus.

Card Text: Warnings and confessions about the cost of the secret arts, addressed to a student by the seventeenth-century magus (and reputed immortal) Julian Coseley. .

Study Text: Coseley’s tone is urgent – as if he suspected he might have little time left.

Quote: “Even the Sunne can be divided, though it require the Forge of Dayes for its division.”

Lore: Ardent Prayers

The Geminial

Discovery Text: A manuscript of unusual antiquity, its cover decorated with fragments of coral.

Card Text: A fragile manuscript, illuminated with twinned shapes of sad and luminous beauty, and with all the phases of the moon. It might be as old as the sixth century, but the language – Fucine – is much older. The page-edges have been known to cut like razors.

Fucine: A people lived east of the lost lake of Fucino. Horace warned that theirs was the land of witches. This was their language, called by some ‘the dry tongue’ and by others ‘the tongue of witches.’

Principle: Knock

Lore: Unknown

Book Analysis

I suspect that the Locksmith’s Dream has a total of three books, as this would fit the escalation that occurs between the first and second volumes. The first volume begins unassumingly enough with an esoteric, almost scholarly exploration of artisans dreams (sounds harmless, doesn’t it?). The second volume becomes more theoretical and crosses a number of lines in the process, resulting in copies of it being mutilated and suppressed. It seems likely that there’s an unpublished and very supernatural third book out there somewhere, written right before or sometime after Galmier went through the Spider Door. Furthermore, Galmier’s focus on artisans implies some sort of correspondence between the medieval building guilds and the Mansus, with the dreams of the locksmiths in particular being her key to understanding and ultimately opening the Mansus’ doors. Everything in the visible world has some sort of relationship with the powers of the invisible world. (“Thus the essence of these visions: what is below can’t escape what is above.”) Like to like is very much in effect.

The De Horis is an occult encyclopedia that was anonymously constructed out of earlier texts sometime in late antiquity. The fact it isn’t ascribed to a single author suggests that it was a group creation. My guess is that it was originally a Hellenic work before it was translated into Latin, but in a world where Fucine, “the tongue of witches,” is a thing, who really knows where it came from. The encyclopedia probably has a total of seven volumes, one volume for each occult principle/hour, making it the ideal introductory work.

The Orchid Transfigurations is a very weird text. It is definitely not the work of a single author, as its attribution to Robert Fludd is clearly bogus and your character identifies the work itself as a “compilation” of texts pretending to be something they’re not (in this case, Rosicrucian). It sounds a little bit like the Corpus Hermeticum, where a number of diverse texts arising out of a shared intellectual milieu were later combined together into a single invented tradition and wrongly ascribed to a single author. As the common milieu of the Orchid Transfigurations is sixteenth century alchemy, it seems safe to assume that all the volumes explicitly deal with the subject of perfection and transmutation. The hodge-podge nature of the compiled sources however means that the nature and intent of these transmutations could vary pretty widely. Yet the compiler must have had a larger purpose in mind when making the selections that they did. Personally, this series is my favorite so far, as I just love strange stuff like this.

The Geminial, is the only book that is explicitly magical. You can’t translate it in the prototype game and it will probably take some effort to do so in the full game, but the payoff will probably be pretty substantial. Even untranslated you can use it’s strangely razor sharp pages to perform human sacrifices (yikes). As you move from searching through dusty bookstores to actually collecting relics of power, more and more of your attention will no doubt focus on items like The Geminial and their possible uses.
.
edited by Anne Auclair on 8/9/2017

Agreed! And thank you for this. The books (and dreams!) are so tantalising.

I wonder the same thing about a third volume. The second has an edition in 1923, and there’s a reference to a final volume in the year of her death, 1925…

Just thought I’d point out that you were tweeted about by Alexis himself:

Nice going!