We’ve been revealing much about the rules and setting of Invisible Sun in the months since the Kickstarter campaign. Here, however, we just wanted to hit some of the highlights to convey what a different game this is.
Monte had this to say:
“It all starts with my childhood. When I was in about 8th or 9th grade, after school I’d walk with my friends to one of our houses. We’d invariably start talking about the D&D campaign I was running. Discussion would quickly become statements of ‘I’d go to the Empress and say this…’ or ‘I’d like to learn what power this new magic ring has.’ Soon, I’d be replying, ‘well, the Empress’ chamberlain pulls you aside to say something,’ or ‘nothing you try with the ring on your own produces any effect, but you could go to a sage to decipher those inscribed runes.’ In other words, right there on the sidewalk, ambling down the residential streets, we’d actually be playing the game. If we needed a die roll, we’d have to wait until we got to my friend’s house, but truthfully we didn’t really need those that often. We were just handling all the narrative elements of the story as it developed.
Much later on, as an adult, I ran another D&D campaign. This time, I noticed one of the players was very quiet. She didn’t seem engaged, and thus didn’t say much at the table. One night, after a game, I approached her and asked if she was enjoying herself. I fully expected to learn that she wasn’t into it. Instead, I got a half hour discussion of what her character felt about the events of the game, the NPCs they’d met, the other PCs, and so on. In other words, what I didn’t realize was that she had this whole rich inner life of thoughts and opinions, but had not had any way of expressing them at the table because she was not a big talker in groups of people. She was very much enjoying the game, but in a way very different from the other players. In fact, she was probably spending more time away from the table thinking about her character and the events going on than anyone else.”
Memories of those experiences informed and inspired Invisible Sun. This game facilitates and encourages players to take (and resolve) actions away from the game table, either alone or as a group. Even if it doesn’t fit into the flow of the ongoing narrative, that’s okay. Like in a novel or film, these can be flashbacks as well as side scenes (or entire side stories).
Because of this, even if you can’t get the whole group together, you can still play—even with just one player and the GM. Even at a coffee shop in the middle of the week. There’s even a way to handle these sorts of scenes without the GM there at all.
Invisible Sun is a game that encourages and rewards players to think about and even play the game away from the table. In so doing, it offers all manner of new opportunities. Play doesn’t have to stop when the session is over and everyone leaves the game table. Players keep the game going—individually or in groups—by creating side-scenes that describe high level actions that their character want to take. Or, they can even create a flashback side-scene that reveals actions their character has already taken.
This also means that even if they can’t make it to the regular session, they can still move their character’s story forward. A side-scene might cover what Shanna’s character does while she’s absent from the regular session.
Players can even play if the GM isn’t available. A side-scene could involve the entire group taking an action that they discuss in person and then communicate later to the GM. The GM resolves the action(s) by giving them a turn of a Sooth Card and then responding to the players’ actions and intentions. (This communication is all facilitated by the Invisible Sun app.)
Further, the game recognizes the differences between player types. While the game is aimed at those of us that love deep, complex characters, there are options for when your cousin shows up from out of town at the last minute and wants to join in the game for a session. She can play a simple, straightforward “shadow” character.
Moreover, while the game requires player input between sessions, where players discuss their character’s evolving development through their own personal story arc, we know that there are extroverts and introverts in the world. Therefore, there are options for outgoing “talkers” to discuss this kind of thing right at the table, but people who don’t like that can do it one-on-one with the GM, or through other means.
The game rules revolve around these kinds of things. The Invisible Sun app actually facilitates all of it, and its web-based features are designed to easily work with online play. Thus, full sessions, side scenes, or player-GM one-on-one interactions can all be done via Skype or Roll20, or even just text chat.
Of course, conventional, traditional play around a table also works great. It’s really the centerpiece of all of this. Invisible Sun doesn’t get rid of that. It enhances it.