MonsterMind is Peter Eijk (he/him). He writes roleplaying games.
This city never changes, this city never stays the same. Close to the coast in a river delta, San Sibilia’s sprawling districts are connected by rambling trams and ramshackle ferries. You may have read about San Sibilia once in a 20-part encyclopedia in a dusty shop around the corner, but haven’t been able to find the bookstore since.
Welcome to Pine Shallows, a small coastal town. Sunny and cheery in summer, when the tourists come in droves, it turns dreary and empty when autumn comes. Weird things keep happening and because most adults are oblivious or too busy to deal with the problems, it's up to you kids to solve the mess.
As A Visit To San Sibilia shows, I've been fascinated by cities, both fictional and real. Some of the main real world inspirations for San Sibilia are my visits to cities like San Fransisco, New Orleans and Barcelona, while literary influences mostly come from the New Weird genre and its predecessors. The short stories from the Viriconium cycle by M. John Harrison have greatly influenced the game, as did the cities of Ambergris (from the books of Jeff Vandermeer), Ararat (Thunderer by Felix Gilman) and Ashamoil (The Etched City by K.J. Bishop). Weird cities, ever changing cities filled with failed artists and poets, never completely knowable.
(One of the story lines in Thunderer follows a group of people trying to write the definitive encyclopedia about the city, failing horribly by the changes they themselves put in motion. Good stuff!)
For my new game Pine Shallows I shifted my attention to a completely different type of city: not big cities sprawling their tentacles both into history and reality, but small towns.
Real worlds examples are any small town slightly out of the way of regular traffic, only seeing more people in the holiday season. Towns with whispered secrets and hidden history. My home town in the Netherlands on the coast of a lake is one example, but the Goon Docks neighborhood as depicted in The Goonies is one of the most direct influences.
Of course, the tone of the game is also really different. Here the focus is on kids trying to solve the problems that adults just seem to deal with: from legendary cryptids, saving your favorite store from being demolished to weird science experiments gone awry. Next to the adventure movie The Goonies and Stranger Things a lot of tone & theme influences come from middle grade adventure books series like The Legends of Eerie-on-Sea. I can't recommend these books enough: mysterious orphans, creepy monsters, quirky characters, humor and adventure.
What the cities in these games have in common is the focus on weird things happening and a hidden history which can be uncovered if you just keep pulling at the edges.
Pine Shallows is already a complete game, but all proceeds of the crowdfunding campaign during September/Oktober will pay for additional art, editing & more content.
I hope you'll check it out!
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