Thursday, August 21, 2008

Strange alchemies of ideas

I listen to a lot of soundtrack music, and some of my favorite stuff is from the various Half-Life games and expansions. Mostly created by Valve's own Kelly Bailey, it's some of the best music ever composed for a game. Really atmospheric work.

And, lately, I'd had the title of one of these tracks stuck in my head. Not the piece itself, but merely the title: "Something Secret Steers Us". It's just evocative as all hell, especially when paired with the music from all these Half-Life soundtracks. And, naturally, it's had me thinking about campaign settings.

At first, I just wanted something that would literally express that title. The idea was that the player characters would have some unseen--perhaps immaterial--allies or guiding force that would give them low-level superhuman abilities . . . as well as instructions as to what they should be used for. Voices in their head urging them to use their new power to walk through walls or turn invisible in some secret, bloody war . . . against other unseen forces, which also act through human intermediaries. Maybe these factionalized manipulators would be aliens, or sapient computer programs, or electrical ghosts, or higher-dimensional intelligences. The whole concept was just a vague scattering of theme, tone, and imagery. (And, of course, soundtrack.)

But today, somebody posted something on that just clicked. It was an idea about a setting where energy-based aliens are invading our world via the Internet. And, before I evenreally thought about it, I posted this reply about Anonymous and the /b/tards getting ahold of alien technologies before the rest of the world even knows something weird is happening.

Then I realized how these two ideas fit together.

More about this later.

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