The Black Wall: a game concept treatment

Introduction:

“The Black Wall” offers the world of the classic ghost story; a world created by Henry and M.R. James, the Brontes, Robert Louis Stevenson, and other masters of the gothic genre; as an interactive experience.

It is a game which uses storytelling as an essential ingredient but it is far from being a talking book or a movie. As a user you are invited to enter a world that is half dream, half reality; where time and space can be fluid — and nothing is certain.

It is inhabited by spirits who will seek to persuade you into believing conflicting versions of what is real in this world. You must decide but you must choose carefully. Your sanity and your soul are at stake.

The Story

You are cold, very cold, and soaked to the skin. Night is falling rapidly as you reach the doors of the great country house. From a distance it appeared imposing and grand, lowering over the bleak marshland that surrounds it. But close-up, evidence of decay and neglect is every-where you look. The drive is choked with weeds, windows are boarded up and the paint under the heavy door knocker is crazed and peeling.

Nevertheless you are now the rightful owner of all of this.

You didn’t know until a bare week ago that you were related to the family that built this house and lived in it for so many generations. As its last surviving member, you are here to claim your inheritance, whatever that may mean in the days – and nights to come.

A grumbling voice responds to your knocking and a wizened face peers out at you balefully. Granny Skinner is the housekeeper, one of two surviving retainers. She shows you up to your room, then abandons you for the night.

By the fitful light of your candle you can see the room is sparsely furnished and dusty. The brocade hangings on the big four poster bed, once opulent, are now filthy and tattered. Bare patches mark the places where portraits once hung.

One wall is curiously painted black …

You aren’t aware of it yet but you have already entered a place where the safe daylight world you once knew will begin to seem like a dream. Where you cannot trust anyone or anything – including the evidence of your own senses.

The forces that brought you here are part of the fabric of the house and the dark history it has witnessed. They are alive around you as spirits from the past; anguished, pleading, remorseful or angry.

You are their link with the land of the living. The blood in your veins connects you to them and allows you to experience episodes from their lives. Only you can put an end to their torment and they are desperate for you to uncover the truth that is buried in your family’s secret and violent past.

It seems a simple task at first. Then you begin to realise that there is another spirit inhabiting the house; ancient, powerful and infinitely malignant. This spirit terrifies and holds the others in thrall, assuming any form it pleases … even the most innocent.

It is determined to seduce your soul from you.

The key to the truth lies beyond the black wall in a mirror world where dreams and reality blur together. Each night you must go there but the longer you spend, the more your health and your sanity will suffer.

If you succeed in finding it, then you stand some chance of exorcising the evil that has cursed your family line. If you fail, you will join the pale company of wraiths trapped within the house for all eternity.

It is a game which uses storytelling as an essential ingredient but it is far from being a talking book or a movie. As a user you are invited to enter a world that is half dream, half reality; where time and space can be fluid — and nothing is certain.

It is inhabited by spirits who will seek to persuade you into believing conflicting versions of what is real in this world. You must decide but you must choose carefully. Your sanity and your soul are at stake.

© 1994 David Clough

Continued (Part 2)

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