Thursday, 7 May 2015

Visitant: the Infiltration

Familiarity is a blanket, invisible until ripped away. The protagonists of Visitant: the Infiltration are extraterrestrials, planted or stranded on the Earth and striving to remain undetected. It's about strangeness, loneliness, the struggle to appear like everyone else without really knowing what that means, to understand the world you must inhabit. Visitants must balance their core identity with the fa├žade that keeps them safe, their instincts with the customs of their new home, their loneliness with the need for secrecy. And there are others out there, human and inhuman, eager to find them.

Prologue: We walk amongst them

Editorial note: These six chapters of thrilling pulse-pounding game fiction are available to premium subscribers only.

The premise

In Visitant: the Infiltration you play a member of an extraterrestrial species, currently resident on Earth in human guise. No matter how numerous or powerful your people may be, here you are alone, vulnerable, and forced to keep your identity secret. The circumstances of your arrival, the regulations governing your visit, or the fear of discovery leave you with little access to the advanced technology and knowledge of your species. You must strive to maintain a cover identity amongst humans, avoiding all suspicion while working towards your personal goals. But the balance between the identities may change and blur over time - your human life growing rich and urgent, while your home planet and previous life begin to feel as distant as they truly are. Meanwhile, you will find challenges and threats lurking alongside you, and you may be the only one capable of addressing them.

Characters in Visitant try to maintain a human identity by preserving Cover while achieving personal goals linked to their Agenda. Each Xenotype has a set of innate or technological capabilities fuelled by Focus, though they will need experience to use these effectively under their new circumstances. They must negotiate their place amongst the hidden and scattered community of extraterrestrials, winning recognition and favour for achievements, or earning enmity for crossing others. Hostile extraterrestrials, human alien-hunters and other antagonists must be evaded or defeated with minimum exposure. Meanwhile, they struggle to balance the Cohesion of their twin identities: reversion to type will undermine their cover, but wishing to be human brings its own perils.

Agendas

Though many extraterrestrials take an interest in the Earth, they are far from united in their purpose. Some may find common ground, shared interests, or simply friendship, but others have philosophies and goals that are incompatible. No large-scale formal factions exist, but most visitants subscribe to one of the following broad agendas.

An agenda doesn't necessarily indicate why you came to Earth, only what motivates you now. Many visitants are unintentional residents, or find themselves straying from their original purpose.

Researchers

Observe. The researchers are on Earth to discover what they can about Earth, Earthlings, and what they mean for the galaxy. Some come from scientific curiosity, eager to investigate an intelligent species in the early stages of spaceflight. Some have sociological, political or philosophical interest in how humanity operates, how it might interact with galactic neighbours, its relationship to other species, ecology, knowledge or technology. Some are simply curious.

Researchers might be:

  • sent by their superiors to carry out preliminary research.
  • carrying out independent research to prove a rival wrong, claim a prize, or follow up the intriguing notes of a lost scholar.
  • tourists who find their superficial curiosity deepening, and decide to stay.
  • lost travellers who landed by mistake, became fascinated with the planet and delayed their plans.
  • fugitives who must learn in order to survive, but begin to wonder what secrets this species holds.

Refugees

Survive. The refugees came to Earth out of necessity. Some are fugitives from justice, seeking a place safe from their people's law. Some have come as part of a sacred journey, cutting themselves off while they seek revelations. Some are in hiding from persecution, assassins or even overbearing families. Some are simply stranded travellers, wondering how to get home.

Refugees might be:

  • prisoners of a tyrannical state, who used a survival pod to flee their prison ship and reach the Earth.
  • a wanted criminal, taking on human guise to lay low until the statute of limitations expires.
  • survivors of a transportation accident, struggling to deal with the trauma and wondering how to reach a distant homeworld when they don't know where they are or where they came from.
  • amnesiacs, trying to survive and stay undercover until they can remember who they are and what they need to do.
  • children run away from home, hoping to eke out a living on this planet until a better idea comes along.
  • escapees from a murderous regime, hoping this backwater is anonymous enough to escape the fetch squads following them.

Scouts

Prepare. The scouts came to Earth to plan how best to exploit it - one way or another. Some are benevolent, hoping to pave the way for integration into the galactic community. Some see profit, planning to turn the planet, its resources and its people into a valuable asset to their corporation. Some see plunder, a source of materials, slave labour, hosts or simply victims for an aggressive species.

Scouts might be:

  • officers of a political or charitable organisation, assigned to work on preparing the Earth to become a responsible participant in galactic affairs.
  • an advance scout of a predatory race, planning to bring down civilisation and leave the world vulnerable to conquest.
  • an agent of a manipulative species, planning to corrupt and recruit Earthlings to establish control over the world.
  • corporate brokers, hoping to get the Earth firmly in their pocket before anyone else does, by guiding social and economic developments and striking deals.
  • religious or philosophical pilgrims, hoping to embed their own views firmly into the Earth as it develops, winning another convert to their cause.

Joyriders

Play. Joyriders are hiding out amongst humans for no other reason than entertainment. Slumming it amongst the low-techs amuses members of some ultra-advanced species. Some just like new experiences, and have exhausted the easier options. Some find they can get away with more than their own strict governments permit.

Joyriders might be:

  • youngsters enjoying a burst of freedom before taking up responsibilities back home, and wanting to enjoy every moment.
  • hedonists who can get experiences on Earth not permitted at home, from noxious intoxicants to fighting to running for government.
  • world-weary entities, looking for a simpler and more 'authentic' lifestyle than they can find amidst their own people.
  • celebrities enjoying the anonymity of life amongst humans, a welcome break from the public eye for a few years.

Predators

Take. Predators have little in the way of great goals or philosophies; they see an opportunity for personal gain. The Earth is a floating ball of resources, humanity a herd of cattle, and civilisation a way to access both.

Predators might be:

  • psychic vampires, who absorb the memories and experiences of others for their own enjoyment.
  • megalomaniacs, who see an opportunity to become powerful amongst a species who don't know them.
  • actual predators, hunting humans for food or thrills.
  • thieves, stealing human knowledge, artefacts or genetic material to become rich.

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