By Lillian Cohen-Moore
The Village by the Sea
There are countless works of fiction we hack and tease apart to bring into the games we play every week. I decided to go into that eyes wide open with the Guide. I want you to play in the Village, using whatever system you’re using.
And I want it to scare the fuck out of you.
The Village by the Sea was established in 1850. The Guide is set in a time that’s equivalent to present day. If you strip off the technology, the Village has changed less than it’s willing to admit since its Founding. The old red light district is still there downtown, when you peel away the glitz of modern bars. The same ghosts never rest and the Founding Families are still as dangerous as That Which Sleeps Beneath.
When a handful of my friends asked me to write a synesthetic detective, I laughed about it and went back to work. But the request—really a dare—stuck with me. I’m synesthetic, but I never include that in fiction. When I started outlining the Guide, I searched its voice, for the best person to tell the story. I got Ashley Hart. Hart is the way I’ve found to let you borrow my senses, by giving you the observations of the increasingly endangered synesthetic detective.
My synesthesia is something I find it difficult to imagine not having; tasting colours and wincing at the texture of certain sounds, describing moods to the people close to me, who speak the language, in flowers and colours and sounds. Hart isn’t a perfect match to my synesthesia—it wouldn’t be fun if she was—but she shares enough common language for me to stretch my wings and include tastes that aren’t wholly mine, but fellow synesthetes I’m close to have shared. Hart’s past is rooted in why the colour of Saturday is black.
Spectacular Support Team
I couldn’t do the Guide alone, though. It’s a bit bigger than a one-woman show.
Richard Dansky, my editor, has worked in fiction and games before I ever started to stretch my wings as a writer. If I wanted to do something that rolled both up as tightly as possible in one project, I couldn’t think of anyone better to turn to than someone who has been a White Wolf developer, a novelist, and done both sides of fiction, writing and riding herd on writers.
Lisa Grabenstetter, my artist, is fucking phenomenal. I’ve worked on projects where I helped monitor contracts with artists, getting them what they needed and communication flowing between all concerned parties. I’ve licensed art on projects. But I’d never done original art with an artist before. I told Lisa what I needed, sent the reference photos, and communication was instant. Examples went back and forth, sketches were merged, and the Seal of the Village was born. I’ve never been so happy to pay for art in my life. That’s why I asked Lisa to stay attached to the Guide and do a number of interior illustrations if we fund.
Sarah Troedson, who is the best GIS Analyst I’ve met, has been there to hold my hand as I tried to describe the Village boundaries, merging ideas and half-formed notions. She’s also kept me from executing geographically impossible ideas or violating the laws of nature. We’re still finalizing some last few details, but I can’t wait to show you the first roadworthy version of the map. The taste of beautiful and isolated is there, and maybe the razor red edge of the threat the Village truly is.
The Village by the Sea is lonely without you, and I’d love to show you around.