Matthew Green, arcane #17, March 1997
Have you ever felt like a pawn in some huge and unguessable conspiracy? Ever wondered if the Truth really is Out There? Players in this game have the opportunity to tailor-design their own characters and get involved with the mysterious SITU organisation – the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained. Each character, whatever his or her initial background, has come to join the society as a volunteer interested in pushing back the boundaries of the unexplained. Once in, the characters are placed in small cells of six operatives (that's you and five other players), and given the resources required to investigate a single 'mission', which lasts for 12 turns. When the investigation is complete you can be reassigned to new missions which may or may not include operatives you have previously worked with.
As play progresses you slowly build up more of a picture of not only the strange things that you are investigating, but also the SITU organisation itself. Worthy operatives may even gain promotion within the organisation. and as such are expected to keep sensitive information away from the lower-ranking agents – you know, steal the black box flight recorder before the rest of the party arrive at the crash site, that kind of thing. Essentially, though, the majority of play is about party unity and sharing information.
One of the best features of this game is that although each player is only directly involved with one mission at a time, there are always many other investigations simultaneously being carried out by other cells. Those players attempting to get a wider picture can stay in contact with operatives they have worked with in the past, and generally try to increase the number of contacts that they have within the organisation. Theoretically, it might be possible for agents to aid each other even though they may be assigned to different missions. It's all deep, dark and challenging roleplay.
Turn orders are written entirely in free text, as much or as little as you like, and the orders of all six characters in each 'party' are evaluated together to produce the overall party turn result. Single turn results are typically around 3000 words in length, and are also supplemented by a regular SITU newsletter outlining some of the other missions that are currently underway.
The game is pure narrative and, as such, interactive fiction at its best. For more information contact: Undying King Games, 57 London Road, Ipswich IP1 2HF.