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Thread: The Circle of Stone and Shadow: Campaign Outline

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis

    The Circle of Stone and Shadow: Campaign Outline

    For the curious. Digi asked me to emphasize that this departs from the original vision for CoSaS.

    I screwed up in the original attempt. I'll just make one last revision and post it by hand. Please do not try to make this. This is just a story.
    Last edited by Anarchic Fox; 16th Jul 2021 at 02:24.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: May 2017
    Location: USA
    Not sure if it’s just my browser, but it doesn’t appear to be a clickable link.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Mission One: Gathering at the Inn

    This is a homage to “Gathering at the Bar,” the first FM ever made (though not the first released).

    Gathering at the Inn: https://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=64716

  4. #4

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Mission Three: The Nine Year Sleep

    9YS Design Document: https://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=150640
    9YS Content Release: https://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=143539

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Mission Four: For the Love of Art (or, For Love and Art)

    Dante has now participated in many missions. Stone has deemed him ready to be the lead agent on a minor one. The goal is, once again, the Ivory Rose -- this time a literal rose carved from ivory, once an heirloom of Cloud's family, now seized by the Bank. It's held in a vault in a Bank branch. The members of the team are Dante as lead, Steel as support, and Stone as coordinator, a role Sheam normally fills. Steel and Dante are infiltrating the same building, a local branch of the Bank; however, their mission areas do not overlap (to avoid unneeded complexity). Steel deals with the portions of the mission involving guards, as he's better than Dante at combat, and Dante's equal at stealth. Dante's mission area is the outside of the Bank, and its various mechanical obstacles; its access and ventilation systems; and at the end the vault. (There's a parallel with Stone's role in MX.) More importantly, he must make critical decisions when Steel requires one. Once again, there are multiple outcomes, though this time they should be "good, better, best" instead of "bad, good, best." In the better two outcomes Dante even has to do some impromptu therapy when Steel's resentment bursts out. Steel says that he's the better agent, but has never been lead agent, and the only reason Dante has the role is his relationship with Sheam. Stone and Dante burst out laughing, knowing something Steel doesn't, but they do explain to him that an agent's social skills are as important as their stealth and combat skills. What Steel doesn't know should be made easy to figure out: Nightfall has nothing to do with this mission. Stone arranged it based on an idea Dante had. After retrieving the Ivory Rose, Dante delivers it, a courting gift, to Sheam's mailbox, and the mission ends.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Mission Five: Switching Rails

    SR Prototype:
    https://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=150640

    So, speaking of Mokkis and bandidos, mission five is Switching Rails. It has little plot significance, but I put lots of work into it dammit. Byron has become slightly more powerful in his magic, and his portfolio of spells is much larger, reflecting the fact that this mission is reality, as opposed to the fiction of 9YS. However, his magic is based on necromancy, and very strange things happen to the dead in The City. So, only the easiest magic works as it should, while everything else has progressively stranger side effects or misfires. This is, flat out, a comedy mission, not a challenging one -- Byron is overpowered compared to city guards, criminals and bandidos. The fun in this mission should be seeing what strange and wacky things happen when Byron tries his necromancy in The City, with the side benefit of hinting at future puzzle solutions, which will require him to work around the flawed magic.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Mission Six: Weighing Fact from Fiction (or, Why Fox Fails at FMs)

    Mission six would be my version of The Return of the Obra Dinn. Byron is still missing some key information, but he knows of a small library specializing in City history, near an exit from the underground tunnels. The library has one guard and a few night owl scholars, and poses little difficulty in stealth. However, there are thousands of books, every single one of which is readable (with text mainly drawn from stuff like The Gutenberg Project). Higher difficulty levels simply include more books, and at the highest level there are as many books as the Dark Engine will support. Byron has three writing kits (a la MX), and must find at least one of three key books by figuring out a big damn logic puzzle. These key books allow him to infer the location of The Circle. However, all he has to guide him in his search are the library's records, its spotty organizational system, and an obscure branch of magic called “library magic,” a tome of which is placed prominently at the front of the library. If you’re wondering about the alternate name, this mission is a good example of why I should not design games.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Mission Seven: Trimfect’s Labs

    Dante has proven himself as both lead and support agent, so now Nightfall and Sheam are going to try him out in the coordinator role, which previously only Hallming, Sheam and Stone have performed. This is our introduction to Hallming and Hallming's Labs, which is the play area. The equipment that Sheam uses to coordinate agents is a mixture of high and low technology, and Dante must learn to use it to guide field agents effectively. We get to meet Hallming, but Hallming, being very paranoid, quickly excuses himself and locks himself in a safer portion of the lab, so mostly you interact with Sheam. The mission is a simple one: the Museum, which Nightfall patronizes, has reported suspicious activities and missing items. Nightfall's magic has detected something amiss; it's Byron, of course, who burglarized the Museum. Lesser agents have been dispatched to investigate in secret. There's no fail state (except maybe as an easter egg), but you still want to guide the agents' activities to avoid detection. At the end, you've gathered both mundane and magical evidence about the burglary. The mage on the team reports that the dead are in motion, and that Nightfall needs to hear about this soon. The main objective completes, but the mission does not end; the objectives screen gives no clue about what is going on. However, if you explore the Labs after that point, you will discover a door previously locked is now unlocked, and you may now reach deeper into Hallming's territory. At the Labs' innermost sanctum, you find Hallming, dead. While the agents were investigating the Museum, Byron had already begun to infiltrate the Circle, and has now assassinated his first target.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Mission Eight: Breaking the Circle

    A Byron mission. Byron is in The Circle proper, with one objective: Kill Nightfall. However, Nightfall is forewarned by Sheam and Dante, and is ensconced in his office/quarters, protected against magical attack and divination. In addition, all agents have been alerted, and will enter The Circle as the mission progresses. This is the first hard Byron mission, on the level of MX. Not only are there skilled guards, technological snares, and magical wards, but also various agents will attack in various ways, including our beloved Steel and Stone, with Stone the hardest by far to handle. If Byron kills/disables an agent (say, Steel), an optional objective will pop up already completed, saying "Kill Agent Steel" or "Disable Agent Steel." At the start, there are a few agents already in the building, albeit serving relatively tame purposes. For instance, a scribe studying in the library is me, Agent Feather. I'm inconveniently placed and easy to kill. Anyway, if fast or stealthy enough, Byron can avoid all agents but one, Agent Glass (Dante). Glass, who was already near The Circle when he sounded the alert, awaits outside Nightfall's chambers, and cannot be avoided or bypassed. Byron must confront and defeat him, an easy task compared to Steel and Stone. However, Glass cannot be killed; no matter what, the optional objective says "Disable Agent Glass." After all, the plot must continue from this point. With the last obstacle subdued, Byron can finally enter the sanctum, where Nightfall awaits in his private office. When Byron enters, Nightfall stands from his desk and detonates the dozen fire crystals lining the room, killing them both; the mission fades to black. However, time passes and the mission does not end; instead, with a whisper, a unit of Byron's magic meter disappears, and Byron gains one point of health. The units of his magic meter were souls sworn to his cause, and one of those souls just sacrificed themself to resurrect him.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Mission Nine: The Indubious Agent Glass

    A month has passed. The Circle’s grounds have been seized by an opportunistic Raputo, who is loitering there, gloating in his inadvertent triumph. Despite that, the remaining agents try to continue Nightfall's most important work on their own. Canonically, no agents died in BtC: Byron is a necromancer and respects both life and death. However, it will be a few missions yet before Steel and Stone show up again. Each agent contributes as their abilities allow; however, Dante was grievously injured by Byron, and has lain abed until now. He is consumed by feelings of inadequacy, even in Sheam’s company. Eventually, he decides he should go back to what got this all started: petty theft. It's not much, but he can provide funds for the other agents to use. The sole objective of this mission is simple, "Steal valuables worth 200 gold," and the play area is the neighborhood surrounding Sheam and Dante's apartment. However, Dante is still badly hurt, and his abilities suffer as a result -- no running or crouching, and he's too weak to use a blackjack. So, even 200 gold is a minor challenge. Nonetheless, after getting 200 gold, a new main objective pops up: "200 gold isn't much. Make it 300." And if the player meets that one, another appears, and so on in a sequence of six or so main objectives. The typical player will try to push through as many of these objectives as possible, not knowing that at any time after 200 they can return to the apartment and finish the mission. The player playing normally is Dante succumbing to his kleptomania. Sheam is away when Dante starts his spree. If he returns after completing every loot objective, he finds her already in bed at the apartment, asleep.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Cutscene

    Byron's goal was to kill Nightfall, but if that wasn't enough he had backup plans. Indeed, although Nightfall is dead, the spirits still speak fearfully of a Rivata incursion, and signs of the Rivata have appeared in the shadows. In WFfF Byron learned three key locations: The Museum, The Circle, and The Temple. The Temple is now an excavation investigating the Precursors and Rivata, the same excavation where Nightfall first entered this world. Barring all else, Byron knows that he can go the excavation and perform a powerful sealing ritual that calls on all five Realms of the Dead. However, he arrived at the excavation and discovered it is a decoy. Nightfall put effort into obfuscating the Museum and Circle, but he spent every effort to hide the excavation, knowing its importance and danger. Thus, Byron does not know where the real excavation is. After two months of searching he still has no clue, and Nightfall isn't around to ask. Byron concludes he must find an agent and coerce him into revealing that knowledge, but thus far every lead has led to either a dead end or a trap, the agents being much better at hiding than Byron is at detective work.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Mission Ten: The Road to Hightowne

    Byron is down to one remaining lead. The mission, an urban one, begins here; Byron follows up on his last lead using both mundane and magical means. This lead involves breaking into various locations in this mission’s neighborhood. Every promising location ends in a trap, as the agents now know of Byron’s search and consider it their best chance of killing him. However, in the course of springing these traps Byron reads about, and hears rumors of, a rash of thefts nearby. Indeed, a small part of the mission overlaps with the previous mission, including Dante's apartment. Late in the mission Byron may find Dante there asleep, still wounded from their previous encounter. Pity and recognition stay Byron from his previous idea of magical coercion; acting on intuition, Byron decides to ask Dante for help.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Mission Eleven

    A Dante mission. Over a few days Byron explains the Rivata and the sealing ritual, while Dante confers with the other agents via communication mask. Byron explains that the ritual requires five objects of power, one for each Realm of the Dead. He already has three: the fire wand from Gathering at the Inn (stolen from The Museum), the book of history stolen in The Nine Year Sleep, and another item stolen from The Museum, preferably something from Correspondence of Thieves. The Ivory Rose from FLoA can serve as the fourth necessary item, leaving only one. In the course of writing these descriptions I said "fuck it, fuck Thief DS" and decided to make item number five the Eye, which after all has necromantic significance. Dante agrees to help steal the Eye. I don't remember the details of where the Eye ends up between Thief games (and I toss out three and four's canon entirely), so I’m just gonna say it ends up in Raputo’s hands. This mission takes place in The Museum, which, like The Circle, has been seized by Raputo. Byron is required to wear a communication mask for the theft, and they are working as a team of three: Sheam as coordinator, Dante as lead agent, Byron as support agent. However, once Byron reaches the Eye Dante and Sheam plan to call in Steel and Stone to subdue Byron. Containing and transporting the Eye safely requires its own necromantic ritual, and they believe Byron will be weakened enough by the ritual for the agents to capture and interrogate him. Things go awry. The proximity of a powerful necromancer to a powerful necromantic artifact is enough for the Rivata to make a partial incursion into the City. Having snuck into the center of a heavily guarded Museum, the player must find their way out of a now Rivata-infested one. Convinced of Byron's honesty, Dante and the agents agree to help Byron with the sealing ritual, but the vanguard of the Rivata are already entering the City.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Mission Twelve: In Defiance of Omniscience

    A Byron mission. Agent Feather (yay) knows the true location of the excavation, and the protagonists have all five objects of power; however, the Rivata have begun their invasion. Byron rushes to the site. Dante, still wounded, hangs back and acts as coordinator, while Steel and Stone assist Byron. Half the mission is the city streets above the site (within Nightfall's territory, but away from the Circle), and half is the excavation below, based on the old level fragments from early CoSaS. The Rivata have infected some of the people living in the city area, reflected in distorted audio and slightly elevated speed/reactions, gradually worsening as the player descends. The Rivata know of the excavation and its importance, and have started guiding the most infected down there. Byron, assisted at various junctures by Steel/Stone and guided by Dante, must fight his way to the bottom of the excavation to where Nightfall entered the world of The City, place the objects in five key (and challenging to reach, natch) locations, and perform the ritual. By all indications, this is the final mission; but no, there's one more to come. When Byron finishes the ritual, the Rivata speak as a collective whisper, saying, "Beautiful necromancer, we do not feast on the living." Byron's magic meter, representing sworn souls, vanishes entirely, and the mission ends. The Rivata's invasion plan, used to conquer many other worlds, has two halves. One half, Nightfall's half, is intended to create a portal. The other half, however, creates a civilization terrified of the Rivata and well-versed in necromancy; in our case, it is formed from the Chancellor's visions. When the Rivata invade a world, this civilization sends its best necromancers to fight it... only to feed the hungry Rivata using the souls they have gathered.

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Cutscene

    A cutscene in the classic LGS style. This one is clear in my mind. An aged hand opens a drawer: inside are scrolls, writing implements and an ornate key. The hand pulls the key from the drawer and shuts it. Three robed figures gather, nod to each other; each pulls a key from their robes to show the others, including the one seen in the drawer. The iconography makes it clear that these are Keepers. In the next scene, a Hammerite looks up from his work and sneers at the three robed figures approaching. He is tending the fire beneath a small smelting vat. The Keepers slowly approach the vat and drop their keys in; as the keys drop, the camera angles and raises, showing that the cauldron contains hundreds of similarly ornate keys. The Hammerite stokes the fire, and the keys begin to melt. Another Hammerite wheels in a massive blank; by the time it is positioned beneath the cauldron, the keys have all melted. The blank is in the shape of the archetypal Keeper keyhole, but when they begin pouring the metal, it is revealed that the inner portion is the blank, not the outer portion. The Keepers and Hammerites are not creating a keyhole: they are filling one in. This is a monumental magical act, only performed once before. The scene fades out, and a map of The City fades in, centered on The Old Quarter. The map pans to show Nightfall's previous territory, containing The Circle, Three Gates' Bridge, The Ivory Rose, the excavation, and much else. There are enough labels for a player to recognize the area. Suddenly a large inkblot appears, as if a jar of ink had overturned, spreading to cover the region. The inkblot looks natural at first, but then fills a distinct polygonal shape. It dries and disperses, revealing an altered map. There are now walls surrounding the territory, and all labels but one have been blotted out. The remaining label says, "The Silent Quarter."

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Circles Part One: Greed (Dante)

    This mission is an exact copy of Gathering at the Inn, except a few of the AI have been subtly infected by the Rivata. However, when the player goes to finish the mission they will be guided through a doorway, back onto the snowy streets, where the mission will restart seamlessly. The only way to break this loop is to resist Dante's (and the player's) kleptomania, stealing only the fire wand. When the player does so, upon passing through the doorway they will emerge into a small temple, where the above quote is inscribed. Dante faces the choice of leaving the Silent Quarter, or returning to it in an attempt to help his loved ones.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Circles Part Two: Sloth (Stone)

    This mission takes place in the Ivory Rose, during its third phase of construction/renovation. Rickety scaffolding is everywhere, yielding a very vertical level, and the building exterior is accessible. There is a moderate Rivata infection, affecting about half the guards present. A younger Agent Stone, working for a newly formed Circle, is heading to the vault the same way she did in MX, through the elevator shaft. This loop ends when Stone sets off an explosion to draw attention away from the vault. In her carelessness, Stone kills several innocent bystanders in the resultant collapsed scaffolding. While she later learned of these deaths, she never accepted responsibility for them. Dante's role is to avert this explosion, alerting Stone to the fact that the time loop can be changed. The rest is up to her.

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Circles Part Three: Envy (Steel)

    This mission is a recreation of FloA, but this time the player is in Steel’s half of the mission. Steel seethes with envy because Agent Glass (Dante) has been allowed to lead a team before him, unaware that this is not a true Circle mission. He is trapped in a loop, bossed around by a random soul pretending to be Glass, until he apprehends his envy. Unlike Stone, who stabilized within her loop, Steel has been gradually degenerating. Now, the Rivata see him as a viable target, and are trying to fully infect him. Unlike the previous two missions, which can go on indefinitely, this one ends in three iterations of the loop; the player must find a way to rescue Steel from the Rivata before then. This is the last mission in which the Rivata are seen, for their defeat at the hands of the Keepers is total.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Circles Part Four: Apostasy (Trimfect)

    Due to his regenerative ability (see the 9YS design document), Trimfect survived Byron’s attack, as Byron knew he would; the assassination was only intended to keep the ancient scholar from helping Nightfall. By the time of IdoO, Trimfect had regenerated, and was assisting the team from the shadows; thus, he too was caught in the Silent Quarter. This mission takes place in Trimfect's Labs, but an expanded and less paranoid version thereof. Trimfect has found happiness, because the time loop cancels out his own cyclic regeneration, granting him the immortality he had sought. It also gives him time and resources to do research he has dreamed of doing for centuries. Trimfect is willing to talk with Dante (over intercom, of course), show off his equipment designs, and generally dump lore, but he is not willing to leave the Silent Quarter, no matter what the player does. To complete this mission, the player must accept Trimfect’s decision and leave the mission area.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Circles Part Five: Wrath and Arrogance (Byron and Nightfall)

    This mission takes place in The Circle, but it is now a place of exaggerated shadows, heights and angles, where everything is more ominous and looming than in BtC. Dante is alone in The Circle, and Byron is hunting him; to complete the mission, Dante must survive the necromancer’s superhuman assault long enough to get a word in edgewise. At the same time, in a far corner of The Circle, there is a small, terrified boy, who will run at the sight of either Byron or Dante. The boy is Nightfall, whose soul lingered in The Circle after his death. He is now trapped within the place he, in his arrogance, created. The attentive player can save both Byron and Nightfall, but only Byron is required.

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Circles Part Six: Pride (Sheam)

    This mission once again takes place in The Circle, but now it is a place much more inviting and warm than in BtC, with all the evidence of violent intent edited away. No more deathtraps and enfilades; instead, a warm and welcoming headquarters for a place that, in Sheam’s mind, is a force for good within The City. Sheam awaits Dante in Nightfall's office, at the heart of the Circle, the same place where Nightfall and Byron died together. Sheam long ago conquered her own demon, and now simply waits for Dante to return to her.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Cutscene

    Months have passed; Dante, Stone, Steel, Byron, and Sheam have all escaped the Silent Quarter. Raputo remains trapped inside, and Nightfall was rescued. Grichemer, the unsung hero of MX, was arrested after that mission and blamed for the thefts at the Ivory Rose; throughout the campaign the player has heard word of his lengthy trial, and his growing status as a folk hero now that the Ivory Rose is at the center of the Silent Quarter. Now, he has been sentenced to execution, and both populace and spirits around the Silent Quarter (which, most will tell you, has been a part of the City for as long as anyone can remember) are near riot. Sheam, coordinating a new Circle, describes the plan for Grichemer's rescue. The narration is in the style of MX's opening cutscene. All the named characters have important roles, including Byron, who has been integrated into the Circle as Agent Shadow, thereby completing The Circle of Stone and Shadow.

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    This is just a story. Please do not try to make this. I am hallucinating and tired, and I haven't been able to fill my prescriptions.
    Last edited by Anarchic Fox; 16th Jul 2021 at 03:31.

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: Constantly losing tug o'war
    Here's a link to the torrent file:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/637vuk0q4b...S.torrent?dl=0

    There more of us who have this the better, as uploading it to more taffers' computers will require less bandwidth.

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