A downloadable game
This is a story about the survivors of a fallen colony ship. One of you plays as Gaia, with her eyes and ears on the planet itself, its flora and fauna, and the colony. The rest of you play colonists, hoping to survive together.
Exile isn’t quite a "game" in the normal sense — nobody’s attempting to win, and losing a character doesn’t make you lose or anything. It’s more like a structured way to play pretend. We hand the reins of the experience over to Gaia, and the other players build characters to control like they’re piloting a mech suit.
The nice thing about this is that we can avoid the old cops and robbers argument of "I shot you!" "No, you didn’t!" because someone’s in charge of deciding what happens at any given point. It’s not that much fun to always just decide, though, so we’ll often push it off to the dice. The dice don’t feel as bad when things go poorly, so that’s a bonus. Stories where only good things happen are seldom interesting.
Another nice thing about playing with a group of creative people is that nobody has to come up with everything themselves. Creativity is draining, especially building a whole world up from nothing. Sometimes you can make someone else create, or use the rules and tables in this book (TODO) to prompt you.
There are no secrets in Exile. Either everyone at the table knows, or nobody knows. Hard and fast rule.
This means no character backstory that doesn’t emerge from play. It means no building a world map on your own and then springing it on the other players. It means don’t write up the alien planet bird-watching book and consult it when someone looks outside.
It also means you can’t have secret plans that only you and Gaia know about, springing them on the others only after completion. Air those things out, folks.
Exile is played over a sequence of scenes, like a movie. Between scenes is a blank space for everyone to discuss plans, think through options, grab snacks. When there’s an obvious next step, Gaia will open a scene to handle that next step.
Gaia opens a scene by bringing a character or two in to play, and either says what’s going on or asks a player. Keep scenes as focused as possible. When somebody rolls dice, end the scene. Dice should resolve the core question of the scene, so if the scene seems unfinished, it’s probably not time to roll dice yet. Scenes can also end without dice (often just for color), if you like.
Sometimes — but not always — one scene naturally leads into another. Gaia should feel free to cut from scene to scene immediately, without blank space. Give everyone a chance to rest, though. Continuous storytelling is exhausting.
Anyone can suggest a scene during the blank space, but Gaia’s the final arbiter of where the camera goes. Be generous with screen time.
In a way, the colony is fortunate: this was the planet you set out to find, and so it has breathable air, reasonable gravitational forces, and drinkable water. You were never meant to return to Earth, so it’s not like losing a viable starship changes much.
There were several thousand people on the colony ship when it entered the atmosphere. At least a thousand survived the crash, at least initially. After that, it’s up to you. There’s a ton of diversity in who’s on board — what they know how to do, where they come from, what they look like, and so on.
This story is not about colony in-fighting, though that may happen. Neither is it about player-vs-player conflict. No player’s character is going to be an antagonist here. The planet is enough of one. If an antagonist arises from within the colony, Gaia will figure out what they do. Players are on the same team.
Click download now to get access to the following files:
- Minimal -- but playable! -- draft.Jun 26, 2017