We have delved into RPG Dungeons&Dragons three times a week since the Pandemic rolled into our lives. The connection through Roll20 and Discord has kept a three-year campaign still unfolding and two new homebrew campaigns with friends from childhood reconnected through social media and besties that are far-flung across the expanse. The once awkward idea of gaming over the internet has become routine.
Happenstance brought Alice is Missing: A Silent Role-Playing Game across my path, and the artwork grabbed my attention. I spoke before that cover art will spark me to purchase a game, and artwork on this game is captivating. Impetuous me, then clicked on over to the Kickstarter and backed it immediately.
An innovative RPG from Hunters Entertainment and Renegade Game Studios (creators of Altered Carbon RPG) transports us with, Alice is Missing, a Silent Role-playing Game. Designed by Spenser Starke (Icarus), Alice is Missing is an immersive experience played almost entirely through text message. The players also use cards, collaborative worldbuilding, and a customized soundtrack to navigate a 90-minute story without speaking a word.
From the Kickstarter ~
Alice is Missing brings the players into the world of Silent Falls, a small California town that’s been rocked by the disappearance of local teen Alice Briarwood. The players take on the roles of Alice’s friends and family then dive into the mystery, searching for clues. The central conceit of the game is that none of the characters are ever in the same place at the same, requiring all communication to happen via text message. The game is timed, with Clues being revealed every 10 minutes, raising the stakes, and sending players further down the path to the truth.
When I spoke with the Designer, Spenser Starke about the development of Alice, he stated, “I always will start with an experience-first design philosophy, so for Alice, I wanted to create something that was immersive, emotionally charged, and leverages modern technology to tell a story in the vein of video games like Life Is Strange, Firewatch, and Gone Home.”
Playing a role-playing game silent via text message seemed unconventional for an interactive game and Spencer explained, “Though the texting aspect may initially appear as though it’s less about “group play” than more standard RPGs, by putting your character behind a screen, it creates a level of immersion within your group that is hard to replicate while speaking to somebody in person. So, it might be a silent game, but that silence makes every word in your text chain that much more powerful.”
Curious if there was a connection to Dungeons & Dragons, Spencer replied, “I started out playing D&D, but it’s not my primary gameplay engine. I tend to gravitate towards more indie storytelling games like The Quiet Year, Dialect, Kids on Bikes, Masks: A New Generation, and Lady Blackbird.”
I told him that the moody and engaging art is what gravitated me to the Kickstarter, and he sang the praises of their artist, Julianne Griepp, ” was a contact through my publisher Hunters Entertainment! We got really lucky with her work; she is absolutely phenomenal. She is doing some more art for us that hasn’t been revealed yet, so you can look forward to seeing more soon!”
What is next for Spencer Starke?
“My last game Icarus came out through Hunters Entertainment and Renegade Games last year at Gen Con, and in August a game I co-designed called Kids on Brooms (based on the ENnie Award-Winning system Kids on Bikes) will drop in stores! So it’s been a busy year– after Alice delivers, I’ll probably take some time to play some more games that aren’t mine, lift up some creators who deserve to have their work seen, and let inspiration strike where it may.”
Alice Is Missing runs over a single session of 2-3 hours, with 3-5 players. In the first 45 minutes, players create their characters, their relationships with Alice, and their ties with each other. The next 90 minutes are spent uncovering secrets and unearthing clues to discover where Alice is, and who is behind her disappearance.
The group picks the game Facilitator who has read the rules and provide guidance for the game. They are the rules reference and a player. Through group texts and individual, you gather clues and suspects. Provided to heighten the experience is the music for Alice is Missing, which also serves as the game timer.
Find a quiet space to gather, a phone and a computer. Time to pick a persona. The character cards supply your background, how you know Alice, a secret, and the last voicemail you sent Alice before she disappeared. Subsequently drawing a motive for how that character acts and assigning relationships to one another. Then, each player will record a secret voicemail to be played at the end of the game using the appropriate prompts on your character card. You are progressing to culling Suspects cards and Location cards that may be linked to Alice’s disappearance. In timed increments, Clue cards are revealed that spawn information to unravel the mystery.
The music will indicate when the Ten-Minute Clue Card is revealed and the climactic ending.
The deck of random event cards and character cards look to provide replayability. The interaction with players and the building of their background plot point, suggests additional plays can experience another tale of Alice is Missing.
They have added a version of Roll20 to the game that shares the delivery of the cards if you are not playing with a group in your home. We utilize Roll20 for our D&D sessions, and it is a straightforward and effective way to share pertinent information and boost the narrative.
Alice is Missing encompasses all that I fancy in a game, though I perceive that this is more of an event or an experience.
When Alice is Missing is released, we may able to have a game night at our home or continuing to game safely through Roll20 and Discords. Either way, this gal who loves escape rooms, deductive themed games, and regularly binges Masterpiece Mysteries, will enthusiastically putting on her detective hat and finding out what happened to Alice!!!
Alice is Missing will be on Kickstarter for 13 more days.
Art by Julianne Griepp
*photos shared from Kickstarter
Kickstarter – Alice is Missing
Let’s be honest; there is still a bit of drama when we play.
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