6 April 2019 - 3:10 pm

Time out of Mind: Challenge #4

(New to this Asylum? Start at the beginning!)

The first team is not pleased to arrive home from their next mission to find their work undone. They worked hard to prevent that pivotal moment. It might have been undone, but they are not to be outdone. 

It’s time for some more drastic measures. After all, this is an important occurrence; if it was worth fixing once, it’s worth doing twice.

But they’re not quite reckless enough to risk encountering themselves or the competition that clearly interfered; that’s a risky business and it’s usually best to avoid running into another version of oneself. There are lots of stories about what happens to time travellers who do this and few of them end well. You are encouraged to use your imagination to think about what these stories might entail.

So this time, the team is seeking to go further back in time to solve the problem. They are focussing on the person responsible for the pivotal moment, and locate a particular spot in that person’s life where they can interfere. Perhaps it is a near-death experience that they want to make an actual death experience. Perhaps it is a formative moment that sent the person down a certain path, which is ripe for guidance in a different direction. Think about what they might look for and what they might do to this person, within the rules set down by their agency, though this might be classified as an ‘extreme case’. 

Now that your team has a plan, send them off on their new mission to prevent the pivotal moment from happening. 

Before we run off on this new adventure, it’s worth wondering what the competition is up to. After all, the timeline must be maintained, and that means that the person and their history leading up to that moment must protected. What are the timeline protectors doing to ensure this?

There is a wrinkle, though: the person is not where the records say they should be. Whether one team or both appears, this person is absent. In fact, they might find something else instead: a decoy or perhaps a trap waiting for them.

Tell us the story of what happens when one or both of these teams goes to find the younger version of our responsible person.

Bonus challenge: the grandfather paradox. Have a member of one of the teams encounter one of their ancestors.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share
6 April 2019 - 2:00 pm

Time out of Mind: Challenge #3

(New to this Asylum? Start at the beginning!)

Your team has stopped the pivotal moment from happening and history has been changed. Ultimately, they believe, for the better. 

Enter their competition. After all, it would be infeasible for there to only be one agency tasked with making sure that history isn’t ruined. Perhaps this other agency was established at a different time or by a different governing body; whatever the cause, their perspective on the matter is a little different. To this agency, protecting the integrity of the timestream is paramount and time travellers must not make large changes. No-one has yet found time’s breaking point, after all, and this agency would prefer that we never did because it would suck if reality completely unravelled.

It’s possible that they have different information about the pivotal moment and its impact. It’s possible that they simply have a different perspective on the validity of this moment. Perhaps it is an important lesson for humanity to learn or a trial that must be endured, or a key to a future possibility that will better everyone’s lives. Or perhaps it is simply human nature expressing itself in the most fundamental way. 

Whatever the case, this agency believes that the original pivotal moment must be protected at all costs. Good or bad, the outcomes must come to pass. Even if this means constructing a new way for the person responsible to make that moment happen.

So this agency also tasks a team to go back to the pivotal moment. Again, take a moment to decide how big this team is, the type of persons that are tasked with protecting the timeline. Their skills, their personalities, their likely tactics. What are they allowed to do and what are they willing to do?

How the pivotal moment was averted is part of historical record now. As are the impacts of it not happening. Send your new team back to set things right and show us how they do it.

Bonus challenge: sounds good. Use as much alliteration and assonance as possible.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share
6 April 2019 - 12:20 pm

Time out of Mind: Challenge #2

(New to this Asylum? Start at the beginning!)

You now understand what your pivotal moment in future history is. You have an idea of the impacts it had and how it influenced humanity in the decades and centuries that followed. But have you forgotten about the time travellers? Because it’s time to bring them in. 

With a discovery like time travel, there’s bound to be some trouble. Someone steps on the wrong butterfly and a tsunami never occurs. Someone tries to kill their future mother-in-law because holidays with the extended family are such torture. Someone accidentally bets a science fiction writer to start a religion to prove a point. Chaos ensues. 

It’s inevitable that rules emerge about what you can and cannot do when traveling in time, for everyone’s sake and sanity. It’s also fairly inevitable that an agency is created to attempt to fix such occurrences, to try to put things back to how they were always supposed to be. An agency that attempts to right what other time travellers have put wrong. They work for the betterment of humanity through fixing history.

Give the agency a name. Perhaps a symbol or a badge they wear. 

How big are the teams they send back in time to repair things? A single person, a pair, a handful of personnel? Focus on a single team and decide who they are and how long they’ve been doing this type of work. How good at they at their work? Take a moment to think about what kind of persons make up this team.

What sort of tactics are they allowed to employ in the name of fixing history? What must they avoid? How ruthless are they allowed to be, and how ruthless is this team in particular likely to be? 

Because this team has been selected for one of the most important missions in the history of this agency: they must go back and prevent the pivotal moment from happening. Whether it led to good or bad things for humanity, it was a mistake and should never have happened. Humanity’s future history should have been different and it was time to fix it.

The orders have come down. The coordinates have been entered. The team is geared and costumed up and ready to go.

Now tell us the story of the pivotal moment again from the point of view of the team sent back to stop it from happening. Show us how it never comes to pass.

Bonus challenge: splintering. Use as much fracturing and splintering imagery as possible.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share
6 April 2019 - 11:10 am

Time out of Mind: Challenge #1

(New to this Asylum? Start at the beginning!)

You have an idea about the pivotal moment in our future history. The one that determines the path humanity will take. Now think about that moment in more detail.

Think about how the moment itself unfolded. How it was communicated to the world. The pictures and videos that came out about it, the ones that would become iconic. The symbols and songs that would come to stand for it. 

Now think about the person ultimately responsible for it. If it could be traced back to a single person, who would that be? The person who made a discovery or cracked a mystery? The person who was in control and gave commands? The person who stood out front of it all, in the spotlight, or the one in a lab or a control room, far away? Who is, ultimately, credited with this moment having come to pass? How did they get to where they could have such an impact?

Walk this person back to just before the moment broke. Consider all they have done to be standing there, on the precipice. How sure are they that they are about to succeed? Is what’s about to happen even what they intended? 

Now tell us how it all happened and unfolded.

Bonus challenge: go purple. Include as much heavy, wordy description as possible, as flowery as you like. 

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share
6 April 2019 - 11:00 am

Time out of Mind: Prologue

Welcome to the Asylum. The doors are closing behind you, so settle in and make yourself at home; you’re going to be here a while. Or perhaps no time at all; it’s hard to say. Because today, we’re going to delve into time travel and see where – and when – it takes our minds. 

Some time in the future of Earth, wondrous human minds discover how to bend the fabric of time. At first, it was just about creating a window to the past, and it allowed a new rush of truth to obliterate the biased histories we’re all used to. But, inevitably, that was not enough. Seeing the past is not enough and it’s not the same as being there. So of course, the most brilliant of minds turned to making travelling through time a reality. 

No-one is quite sure when they succeeded, because once time travel has been invented, it has always existed. But succeed they did, and now, no-one can be truly sure what has been changed. The only people who can know are the time travellers themselves, as their disconnection from the time stream allows them to remember the original and the changed time streams. Which has a whole other set of implications for their poor, stuffed brains for you to keep in mind. 

There are a few truly decisive moments in history that caused ripples for years to come. The end of a particular war, perhaps. The detonation of the first atomic bomb. The discovery of a new technology, like the internet. A pandemic with an awful death toll. Moments that determined the path of the decades, even centuries that followed. 

Today, we’re going to start with such a decisive moment. One that changed something important in the way that we live, a change that spread out into the future and altered the path of humanity. What was that moment? Was it a new discovery? Was it something starting or ending? A revelation? A creation or a destruction?

What impact did it have? Was it the start of a downward spiral or ascension into the stars? Did it bring death that razed the planet, or did it allow humanity to transcend death entirely and enter a new state of being? How did the future unfold, following this moment? Good or ill, it’s up to you. 

Take a few minutes to decide what this pivotal moment in time is, and what followed. Our future historians are going to be very interested in it, so let’s give them something to work with.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share
19 May 2018 - 5:20 pm

Mind and Spirit: Epilogue

Congratulations! Your ghost’s story is complete and you’ve made it to the end of the Asylum. 

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the journey and stretched some writing muscles in the process. Did the caveats work for you? Did it all come together in the end? Will you be sharing what you’ve written today?

Thanks for taking part in the Asylum. If you have any feedback, please let me know, so I can keep it fun, fresh, and developing into the future. 

In the meantime, you are free! Now get your meat suit out of here.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (1)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share
19 May 2018 - 4:20 pm

Mind and Spirit: Challenge #5

(New to this Asylum? Start at the beginning!)

You know your ghost’s purpose and its time to resolve it, one way or another. It has learned how to communicate with the living, and how to claim and drive a meat suit. It has gained some friends or enemies: the living are lining up beside, behind, or opposite it. It is time for the ghost to go after the thing holding it in this world.

So now it’s time to bring all those threads together. Things are coming out into the light and up to a climax, for better or worse, and by the end, your ghost will be both dead and gone from the world of the living. Whether the ghost winds up at rest, banished, or obliterated is up to you. 

You know the pieces in play. You know the tools the ghost has at its disposal. Your final challenge is to tell us the story of the ghost’s endgame. 

This time, the caveat is to drain the colour out of your writing and give this piece a monochrome theme. Focus on the balance – or imbalance – of light and dark through the last part of your ghost’s story. 

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share
19 May 2018 - 3:10 pm

Mind and Spirit: Challenge #4

(New to this Asylum? Start at the beginning!)

Your ghost’s purpose is becoming known now, and your ghost is getting better at affecting the corporeal world. There may be (living) people actively trying to help or hinder the ghost – or both. 

The ghost wants more. More contact, more impact on the living world, more progress on its purpose. Its physical interactions have been limited so far and its time to take the next step. It has no body of its own, so now it’s time it tried to take over someone else’s.

Who does the ghost first try to possess? Why does it select this particular person or body? Is it a human or a different kind of creature? Is a random person or someone they know? Someone they have an affinity or connection with? Do they start with someone or something that might be easy to take over (like someone weak-willed, asleep, or in a coma), or a fresh corpse, or go for a living, breathing, conscious body? Will this person fight them taking control? How successful is your ghost likely to be? Will the host be able to wrestle for control, and is there any way to get the ghost out?

Once the ghost has control of a body – whether its first attempt or the sixth – what is the first thing it will want to do? How does it react to having a physical presence in the world? What are the first things it notices? 

This challenge is to write the ghost’s first successful possession. For however how long the ghost manages to retain control, tell us about it being in a corporeal body for the first time since it died.

The caveat is to focus on tactile information in this challenge. Tell us what the ghost feels in this new skin.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share
19 May 2018 - 2:00 pm

Mind and Spirit: Challenge #3

(New to this Asylum? Start at the beginning!)

However your seance ended, your ghost has been affected. It has been able to talk to the living, it has reached outside of the building it has been haunting, and now it wants to do more. 

Think about what your ghost wants and who they might seek to contact. Perhaps they latch onto the driven person who prompted the seance, as this person was interested enough to ask questions. Perhaps the ghost goes to someone from their past instead, someone they were close to who might help them, or someone they want to send a message to, should any such people still be alive. 

What kind of message is your ghost trying to send? What do they want to achieve, and how do they go about it? How good are they at finding the right words? Are they trying to force their purpose on unwilling humans, to punish someone, or convince others they need help?

Contacting the living isn’t easy, though. Your ghost finds a way to do it through text, literally writing words for the living to read. It can be through any media you like: ink on paper, or text on a screen, scratches on the ceiling, or blood seeping through the walls. Or all of the above! 

Your challenge is to show us the ghost’s efforts to communicate, and where those message take the ghost and whomever it is they are contacting. You may also want to bring in other textual material to shed light on the ghost’s purpose, through reports, records, and news stories.

This challenge’s caveat is that you must treat the ghost’s textual messages as a character in its own right. Make the text expressive in more than just the words it conveys through your descriptions.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share
19 May 2018 - 12:20 pm

Mind and Spirit: Challenge #2

(New to this Asylum? Start at the beginning!)

You’ve had some witting or unwitting visitors to your haunted house encounter your ghost. Perhaps they survived it; perhaps they did not. Now let’s talk about the consequences of that visit.

Someone is convinced that the ghost in the building is real, and that something must be done about it. Perhaps this person is a survivor from the first challenge, or perhaps it is someone connected to those who went inside. Either way, they’re looking for answers, particularly The Answer to the ghost problem.

This driven person decides that a good place to start might be someone who believes in and knows about ghosts. They look for a medium, and it’s up to you how easy such a person might be to find. Would this person go to a spiritual shop on a high street, or to a friend with the right connections, or answer an ad in the newspaper? Might they know a medium already? Or would they look up a ritual in a book, get some friends and try it out?

Whatever their method, this person winds up sitting in on a seance. Perhaps to witness such things for themself, or specifically to contact the ghost they are interested in; either way, this ghost is going to come knocking. But when the medium and group of ghost-contactors settle to form the circle, they don’t know it, not for sure. 

Think about this medium for a moment. Who are they? How stereotypical are they, and how commercial? Is being a medium their work or something they keep to themselves usually? If it’s an ad-hoc, amateur medium or group, who is taking the lead? What methods do they use to talk to the dead?

Build a picture of the room where the seance is being held in your mind. Think about the type of chairs they are using – if the circle is seated – and what the lighting is like. Consider the symbology of the ritual and any required items that might be there, ready to use. Think about the tone and ambience of the room. 

Consider how the person seeking your ghost is feeling as silence falls and the ritual is about to begin. Consider their doubts and hopes, and the questions they truly want answered. Then, close their eyes as the medium gets to work.

Your next challenge is to write this seance, where your ghost is given a borrowed voice.

This challenge’s caveat is that you must primarily use aural sensory information, and no visual information at all. There is no light or dark here, only sound.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (1)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share