Conspiracy in Emerson (WIP) (Update #1 - 30 JUL, 2019)

Hi hi! :smiley: I’ve finally gotten a good start on the first draft for my very first game, Conspiracy in Emerson.

Emerson, an ultra-wealthy port town on the east coast of the United States, has held a strong religious belief in self-preservation and personal success for just about three centuries. This way of life is so deeply ingrained in the town’s history, politics, and culture that now, in 1997, things are reaching an untenable state. The older methods of subtleties and negotiation have deteriorated as the stakes have risen, the egos have grown, and the competition has stiffened. People are resorting to sabotage. Slander. Smear campaigns. Shaming. Framing. Arson.


A month before senior year at Emerson Prep starts, you accidentally get caught up in the violent crimes of two of your classmates. The course of your life takes a sharp turn into the macabre as you get your first peek behind the curtain of your Machiavellian hometown. Quickly swept up in a series of sabotage missions and contract-killings that take Emerson by storm, are you a victim of circumstance? Just along for the ride?

Or a willing accomplice?

:open_book: :arrow_right:

About the story

Currently, I expect the story to be around 11 chapters with each chapter, save for the prologue and epilogue, more or less covering the events of one month of the school year. The second (final) book takes place ten years later. I’m happy to be able to say that I currently have the intro and part one of the prologue done–or, y’know, done enough to share. The content warning will almost definitely change as I add content, but I will always make it clear here on the thread when it has.

The story will likely have a lot of 90’s Americana nostalgia, but one of my priorities is making sure it is still understandable and enjoyable for other nationalities and those with English as a second, third–or fourth?? damn, Gina! …ok i’m sorry–language.

The prologue as a whole is at about 40%, but the demo just has a small portion of that so far. I’ve just started writing part 2 of the prologue.


Added most of the Persona/lity customization scene

Coming up next
  • Ditching the fundraiser
  • Skill selection
And after that
  • Second half of the Prologue
    -Introduction of two main characters
    -The mess that kicks the story off
  • Character customization
Under consideration
  • Adding genderfluid MC options
    -It’s a little different than the umbrella term ‘non-binary’ allows for, including with pronouns. I don’t have plans for pronouns beyond he/she/they, but I am thinking about adding something for MCs who happily float around with pronouns and gender expression. There’s already a genderfluid character on cast, so it feels weird to not have that option for players…

  • Persona and Personality stats
    -I’ve implemented them sooner than I originally wanted to and still haven’t ironed out the kinks. They’re all subject to change, but currently they are: Selfish vs. Selfless, Sour vs. Sweet, Cunning vs. Genuine, Instinctive vs. Deliberate, Crass vs. Class, Cutthroat vs. Decent, and Compassion vs. Detachment.

:spider_web: More details: :spider_web:

The setting

It’s 1997 in an ultra-wealthy port town on the east coast of the United States. Emerson has always used its wealth and its upper class citizenry’s considerable influence to divert outside attention from its deeply ingrained cutthroat culture and quasi-Catholic religion. Lately, things have been getting tenser than usual in the upper echelons of society. Old money and new money interests compete for influence over Emerson and the whole town is on edge as the toxicity of all the in-fighting, feuds, and rivalries has begun to trickle down from the wealthy to rest on the shoulders of the middle- and lower-classes.

Also, the wind has been, like, really bad lately and it’s getting on everyone’s nerves.


The Protagonist - cis/trans male/female or non-binary; straight/gay/bi/pan/ace*
that kid whose family is going broke smh
Your parents have tasked you with the impossible: make important friends that will open the door for your family to be respected again. Burdened with your parents’ financial and political** incompetence, you have to find a way to secure your own stability and restore your family’s reputation.

Though that second part is probably impossible, your parents are really irresponsible.

The main cast/love interests

You can befriend none, some, or all of the main cast. You can also flirt with, crush on, or fall in love with anyone, regardless of your gender or personality, but be warned. There’s romance in this game but there’s also potential for rejection and heartbreak.

Gabe - cis male; bi
most popular boy/contract killer in school

Kile - non-binary; demisexual
resident loose cannon

Jack - cis male; bi
gentle giant

Jessie - cis female; bi
geek next door

Leo - cis male; gay
fresh off the plane because who the heck comes on boats anymore it’s 1997

Rain - genderfluid; panromantic ace
designer wallflower

Rupan/Rohan - cis female/male; pansexual
obligatory rebel heartthrob

Vivian/Vincent - cis female/male; questioning

What to expect
  • High school romance
  • Teen angst
  • Violence
  • Missions and quests
  • Emotional meltdowns
  • Bad role models
  • Trick-or-treating (or a Halloween party, i guess, if you’re into that)
  • Character depth
  • Mood whiplash
  • Moral dilemmas
  • References to both 20th and 21st century media
  • A bumbling police force
  • Sketchy dealings
  • Rumors, true and otherwise
  • A town festival, crappy community theatre play included
  • Questionable parenting techniques
  • Questionable business practices
  • A Senior Prom to Remember
  • Getting to know your friends’ families and pets (if you want)
  • An entire subplot dedicated to understanding the town’s origins. If you daarree~ :ghost:
  • Oh, and 90’s nostalgia. Omg, remember [insert entire desperately relatable BuzzFeed “article”]??

What I’m looking out for the most right now are bugs, recommendations, exhaustive writing—I have the painful habit of writing things like, “You get up from the bed, then walk over to the door. You turn the knob and open it.” from time to time, so please feel free to point out any excessive/repetitive writing if you spot it.

Also! I was but a wee one during the 90’s (6 years old in the year this story takes place in), so feedback from people who actually were teens or young adults during the late 90’s would be excellent. I’m also using old home videos from the late 90s scattered all over YouTube, so if you know of something relevant like that, go ahead and send it my way pls :eyes:


*this isn’t a selection, there’s a sort of open romancing system in the works

**usually, “politics” will refer to social machinations between Emerson residents. Basically workplace politics, except all the time and involving… everyone in town.


CONGRATULATIONS now I have to read it but i wanted be first in cheer you


much appreciated, mara!! we did it! :joy::hugs:

1 Like

Can people please for the love of God - looking at you, Diaspora folks - stop telling their audience the “designated gender” of their trans characters? It just feels like a “well, here’s their genitals!” moment that I’d rather not know unless this is Choice of Pregnancy. I’ve tried to bring this up before in other topics.

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I suppose is a very rude question to ask Maybe is best like choice of dragon. And In many games is totally out of place asking. Is similar to if a game asking me my breast size I will send them to hell.

My problem is like How portrait trans and no binary in a non stereotyped way. Because I don’t think I am prepared for that. But @dontcallmekoko Is well prepared for it and story is totally my alley… With mara charming and political mean girl evilness. Now i have to read the demo and give you feedback you will kick ass :hugs:


Totally get where you’re coming from… I do. but gender is an important plot point for two of my main characters and some specifics about their backstories vary depending on the gender they were assigned at birth. I’m non-binary myself and plan on the binary as a construct being challenged the entire story. So again, I get you but I’d like a chance to prove that I can tell a story that acknowledges sex separately from gender in a smart and worthwhile way.

It’s got nothing to do with genitals, it’s to do with the reality that we all have to grow up and find ourselves within the societal confines of the binary regardless of our personal identities. Especially as a teen in the 90’s. At the same time, though, I won’t fault you for skipping my WIP.


Do you have to put it publicly, on the main page, outside of the story, just for meta? Couldn’t you have tastefully added that into the story rather than “oh by the way this character has a vagina” right. Right there on the. First post for all to see. :frowning:

I’m… not sure I totally understand you. I’m describing my game. The other gender-swappable characters have that information up. To be honest, this is sounding more like the way you personally read into it. This character is also a romance option and the physical features they have differ slightly depending on the sex they were born with. It’s a valid criticism, but for me when I read “femme” I’m not immediately thinking about vaginas.


I know political discussion right know and it’s probably an bad time to ask but:
Are there RO that you can’t actually romance? Because you said hearthbreaking. Do you mean like they are going to reject you anyways or just if you don’t do it right.

if it’s a bad time just answere it later or ignore it.

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No it’s fine. Ignore me I’m just being possibly(?) pedantic. I’m sure @dontcallmekoko will make sure everything is cool, I trust them.

This is a gentle reminder to please keep conversations mature, focused on the feedback and on the polite side.

Once you state your feedback, please take a break from the thread and give others time to read your feedback and even comment on it if they desire.

Focusing replies on the individuals themselves or repetitively hammering subjects over and over can lead to friction between members and often causes the thread to derail.

Remember to flag any inappropriate post and allow moderators and/or staff to deescalate any friction occurring.

Feedback: @dontcallmekoko - I like the premise and execution so far.

I am gun shy with gender and orientation being mass-dumped all at once in a story - more on this later ( I am running late)

I’m glad you put this forth into the community.


Time to show these mongrels what true high-class is like.


I love the game so far what I miss Is a opportunity to be more assertive and sarcastic and hate our family even more. Because i play Charismatic evil characters but so far engaging and pretty solid


So far the game looks really good, the writing is intense (especially the begining with the in medias res I loved that) and I could read it just fine, with english being my second language! And the synopsis sounds great, as well as the ROs, the setting gives me such a dark academia vibe it is fantastic! I am really curious about customization as well as the skills.

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I like it so far. I almost feel the collar around my neck. I do hate that so much in real Life. :smile: The story sounds interesting and I Look forward to read more. Until this point I did not run into any Error.


Uh oh, one of the characters has my name. Well this is awkward :joy:

But the story seems interesting so far. I see the direction of a frame story in the works during the introduction, which can always be interesting if implemented right. I also understand the direction you’re attempting to take with the acknowledgement of the separation.

I think as a clarifier, if I’m reading this right, people are saying it may be too heavy-handed as you introduce the character to say what they’re born with/how their physical characteristics match the sex they are right off the bat. Perhaps it could be incorporated into a form of dialogue as you get to know the character more deeply? That is just my assessment, but I personally don’t mind the avid description of the characters as they meet, since that can also help readers grow the character in their mind.


The only criticism I have is the game is very adamant about what you pc feel and think. For now is okay as it is the prologue. But later on text in my opinion would be better as more neutral approach or with flavour text based in previous choices .

For instance imagine I play a character That is gay and suddenly text say how beautiful sex appeal has a girl. Or if you are sarcastic and power hungry your feelings as character are different that someone charitable.

Also a option to say you are a really charismatic person but you didn’t try to make your parents suffer. And any option to HATE them could be nice


pretty cool ideas you have for this game here. the whole actual personality and fake persona thing is really intriguing. so will we ever meet the “ex best friend” character that told us we woudln’t fit in? or are they a minor character?


I like the premise so far! There’s a lot of great conflict sources you’ve established. I also like the tension between MC and their parents, and that you can choose individual sides to take. The whole idea of social climbing among your school peers is interesting, but I hope you keep including choices for the MC to not participate in that at all. I’d love to see how something like that turns out.

Keep up the great work! Looking forward to this one!


omg so much to say, ok

thanks @poison_mara for putting faith in my efforts! and the same to you @Laguz, I hope with time the direction I’m going in becomes clearer and I can ease any concerns. I’ll consider removing the footnote, too, I mean the character literally isn’t even in the story yet, after all. Chronic over-explainer over here…

While there are certainly things you could say or do that would lose you affection with an RO, I don’t want to design romancing so there’s a specific combo of things you have to choose. Rejection could be expected if your MC doesn’t fit an RO’s sexual preference or if certain traits or motivations turn them off. Jack is way too sweet to date a firmly Cutthroat MC; Rupan/Rohan wouldn’t date an MC that’s super into school politics, etc. This wouldn’t rule out their friendships entirely, though.

But why do it that way?

Creatures Such as We actually influenced my decision to do romance this way, I can’t remember who specifically brings it up but one of the characters is a game developer and contemplates on how game’s love interests don’t often get a choice in whether or not they return the player’s feelings. That always stuck with me and I found it to be fascinating and poignant–so I wanted to give the main characters the autonomy to have their own feelings about the MC. I hope it will make the read more entertaining and the characters more realistic. Plus!! I personally love reading (and writing tbh) angsty break-ups and unrequited love! :]

@Eiwynn thanks! ok, i’m curious what your thoughts are on that, I’ll look out for that. I definitely did dump a lot of information all at once lol if you think I should maybe edit more, I can see the value to that. I just have… so many… so many plans and so many notes and I’m so excited to finally share this story that I deeefinitely might have overdone it on details.

edit: OK wait, it’s possible I misunderstood. in case I did: I am not going to be dumping gender and orientation info in-story. those things are learned thru getting to know the characters.

Yeah, one thing I’ve noticed in writing this so far is that it’s going to take some adjustment writing a slightly less… toned(?) character for the general narration. I def want to allow people the room for them to imagine their MC. However, I think you’ll see the game dictates your feelings less once you actually start interacting with people who aren’t your parents and that will start with the next update.
On that note, though, Emerson residents are taught to be very critical of others’ failures, specifically financial and social ones, so that’s part of why you’ve got such strong opinions about your parents. They are like… really foolish people lol even by normal standards, hence the major attitude towards your parents. I do hope I can master a more neutral tone, though, it’s something I’m gonna actively work on.

hey, to clarify!! I will absolutely not be getting into characters’ gender identities or doing a tour of their body in their introductory scenes! i never said i would!! like not even close lol. your relationships with others are maybe the second most if not the most important theme of the story and since you’re starting this school year with no friends, it takes time to get to know the mains and for them to open up to you in the first place.

@snas thanks, I’m excited to implement that eventually! hm, i didn’t originally have plans for them to appear at all, but a short appearance could actually be really useful. I think I will now :] But it’d be much later in the plot.