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wwsam AMA: Feral Lore

AMA answers from 2022/02/18 in the official Fer.al Discord server


The Day Before

Hi everyone. Admin mentioned that I'd be on tomorrow—and I will—but I'd like to post this tonight.

There's no easy way to go about this, and even as a writer it's been hard to find the words to say goodbye. (Maybe especially as a writer, since my head is filled with so many words all the time.)

This community has meant so much to me, and in parting I'd like to share some documents I've made that will help you carry the world of Fer.al with you wherever the future takes you, alongside the Sparks who have touched yours.

One is a tabletop roleplay guide with an easy-to-use (I hope) game system that you can play with online friends, or at a table in the real world. It's ready to be customized with new character classes and mechanics, so feel free to adapt it and make it your own! Next is a Lore Bible with details about the world of Feral to help you kickstart the new stories you'll tell, and a Character Sheet to help you tell them.

Finally, there's a document that reveals some stories from Feral's history that have been shrouded in mystery til now. Technically... it's filled with big spoilers! Whether you decide to read it or not is up to you.

As Lead Writer, it feels like this world has been with me the longest. Long before we started sharing this story with you, I spent a lot of time with its characters, feeling out who they were and what they wanted to do with their world once their journeys began. They got into my head, and they couldn't help but leave an impression on my heart. I've been so deeply touched to see the impressions they've made on all of you too, even if our time together was brief.

Fer.al has meant the world to me, and it's been a joy to build this world with the other writers Julie (thanks for the laughs) and Susannah (thanks for the heart), and with all of you. I hope you'll hold onto the moments that made your Sparks shine, and the moments that made us brighter together.

Flourish and bloom, and stay wild.

[Server-specific heart emoji] Sam

Note: These file links link straight to the Discord attachments, which download automatically.

Note: These files are hosted by Feral Archives and shouldn't download automatically.


The AMA

Note: Spoilers are hidden by "details" tags.


Hi everyone! I'll be here for a bit this afternoon to spend some time with you guys and say goodbye.

Since I started working on Feral, there was always something in the back of my head, reminding me that it wouldn't last forever. That's the nature of online games. (And games as a medium in general, tbh.) One day, an event will end, or the servers will close, or technology will change, and it will be gone. I'd hoped (we'd all hoped, all of us here) that day wouldn't be today, but in the end, it is.

It's hard to say goodbye to something. It's hard to spend time in a world, and then have to leave it. It hurts, and it will hurt for a while, but day by day it'll get easier, especially if we spend more time dwelling on the good memories than the bad ones.

This is the last day to celebrate what this game was to us, here, together, before we get scattered to other servers and other fandoms. And I want to spend some of it with you, celebrating what we did together. I'll be bouncing between here and the speculation channel--a place I've spent many an hour lurking on and reading your theories across the past couple years.


It's all right to feel what you're feeling, whatever it is. I've done a lot of yelling to Mountain Goats lyrics myself. (Highly recommend. They've got a song for any kind of emotion--especially if it's loud.) It's so so good to step away and do something that lets you feel what you're feeling.

Remember also not to assume what anyone else is feeling, or how they're dealing with this. They're somewhere out in the world, holding a phone or sitting at their computer, and you have no way to know what's going on in their heart. Don't make their last day in this server worse--or yours, for that matter! These are the memories we'll be carrying out with us, into our separate, but hopefully still connected, worlds.


What were the plans for the future story of Fer.al?

Feral was always a living thing. The stories were bound by the game's design and gameplay, and we didn't quite make it to the stage where the gameplay could carry the story into the future. That's why the story sort of pittered out at the end, and we tied things into a time loop until we knew what was next. Would the Queens be able to return?? Would we work to try and rescue them?? There were a ton of possibilities, but since each one would have relied on a different sort of gameplay, we hadn't yet made an answer for what would be next.


I'll be picking things out as I see them (and have answers to share), so I'll be jumping up and down in the spec channel!


What's the deal with Vesta?

When an ordinary creature winds up in the Blood Tundra, they start to lose themselves to it, and slip into madness or vanish completely. Vesta was a Valkeri merchant who traded dyes and textiles, but wound up getting ensnared by the thrall of The Tree during her travels. She is indeed Lafayette's cousin who disappeared, and her plumage used to be colored like his until her color was sapped by the Tundra.


What's the deal with the picture of the Kobolds that Alder has?

This one is a goof I've been wanting to clear up for a while now hahaha. My intention when I described the picture for the artist was for it to be an old, tattered photo with unfamiliar kobolds, to hint at

(spoilers for the spoiler pdf above)

the idea that the Kobolds of the Blood Tundra have been trapped there for many many years, and that they knew the Kobolds of other villages before everything went wrong--but the art didn't reflect that and I didn't catch the mistake in time. It happens! As it is, I figure maybe.... kobold generations might look the same! So it's not Aleta, but her grandmother... You know, like how they do in anime when a character looks just like their grandfather when they were the same age. Hahahaha


What's the deal with The Tree in the Blood Tundra?

This was hinted at in the quest where you analyze Wayfarer skeleton with that device, but the idea is

(again, spoilers related to the spoiler doc)

that it grew from the spilled blood of the Wayfarer, and so it has the cursed remnants of the Wayfarer's soul inside it.


What am I doing after Feral?

I'm still working on Animal Jam! Lots of animal research, and also trying to learn about... paleontology. There's so much paleontology. Like, millions and millions and years of it?? Don't know how I'll ever catch up.

Animal Jam's story has been pretty neglected the past few years because we were storying it up all over Feral, but now I'm looking forward to refocusing on that world again.


General opinion on shipping

Yall I frickin love shipping. I do it in my fandoms and I think that there's so much fun and joy and depth to be found in it, and you should go for it. Chase your blissss


What's the deal with Luka?

Some more details expanding on the spoiler doc:

Luka's not under the thrall of the Tree or the Watcher, but they've been very damaged by what they've done, and they've sort of coasted far beyond the Kobold they used to be. That's what the Tundra does, and Luka lies at the core of it. Still, the fact that they're still clutching at their memories and the people they care about shows how strong their conviction is. They're a bit of a villain, and they do things that are bad, but I want nonbinary characters to get to be as dark and twisted and fallible as anyone else.


Some Blood Kobold stuff, again expanding on the spoiler doc

Many of the NPCs were assigned their character sheets after they'd been built out, but the Blood Kobolds were the first NPCs I got to build and design myself, so I put a lot of thought into how they looked.

The closer they got to letting go of their memories and either fading away forever or accepting their fate to exist in the Tundra, the whiter their fur would get. That's why the kids have such rich fur--because their spirits are still bright. Except for Veri and Lumi. Because they're creepy.

Luka is the only one with a sword because they hold the power in the village. Alder remembered what had happened and tried to break free of the Tundra, but wound up getting dragged back inside by Luka, who left a white handprint on the back of his head.


What's the deal with the Watcher?

The Watcher is essentially the god of the Betwixt. It/He (I think we've used both, or maybe even more variants) wants to bring Feral into the same state as the Blood Tundra: an endless winter with decaying magical energy that the Betwixt can then feed off of. The more pieces of Feral it absorbs, the more building blocks it has to work with to create new things inside itself. (There's some info on the Betwixt in the Lore Bible.)

Relating to the Blood Tundra,

the Watcher picked Luka because it saw that Luka would fulfill its goal, and was vulnerable to influence. It left Luka after the curse was put in motion.

Relating to Lady Amaryllis,

maybe she was also being spoken to and influenced by the Watcher, or maybe she's just become her own sort of god of the Betwixt. Maybe the Watcher was a real creature too once, who became something new in the Betwixt.


General Feral land stuff

From what I remember, the backroads was a way to control what harvestables were available at what times, and then when the game design moved away from that, the landscapes were fixed up and changed in some ways to adapt to gameplay. Story didn't have much say in how the lands were laid out or what was in them--that was concept and environment artists, who rock, and tell stories of their own with the stuff they do--so we just tried to expand on the stories that we found there!


Item description lore

We have.... a lot of items. And they all have item descriptions. We often went beyond the bounds of Feral to think about what places might exist on nearby planets, or in places that might not have travel portals/airship access yet. We wanted to speak to the idea that Feral is part of a greater universe, with other planets that the Valkeri and Komodori could have come from, even if you wouldn't visit those places yourself.

We did try to fit all the items into some spot in Feral's story, whether it was via a fashion designer or art movement or TV show, but sometimes you just gotta have a duck hat or whatever, because the people need it.

Some of the more manic descriptions come from either us trying to be funny, or us nearing the end of a list of items that need descriptions and being like, "I don't know!! It's a chair!!! What do you want from us??"


Who was sending the Blood Kobold kids gifts?

The Arrowpeak and Ogasa villages covered up what happened with the Blood Tundra, in addition to being somewhat affected by the severing curse which caused some memory loss, and pretty much everyone who was there for "The Battle of Bloodlake" has since passed away. Archives were also destroyed in a Lakeroot flood. The kids' mysterious benefactor was likely a Kobold who knew the truth, and felt guilty for what had happened to the children of the Tundra.


Twiggles cannot be killed.


Ghosts in the Tundra

A lot of things linger in the Tundra--lost spirits, leftover emotions--and they take the forms of all sorts of things, holding onto their desires and goals from when they were something else.

OH I just remembered something spooky. My idea with ghostmeal (the residue of spirits and other such stuff) turning white was that it would blend in with the snow, and there would be no way to quantify how many ghosts had faded there.


The Queens' Dream

Over on delilahlichqueen and aradiafellqueen on instagram, we told a story about the Queens getting stuck in a dream world as they slept, which featured a toy called Scubb and a (lot of) beautiful teacup(s). The idea here was that these were sentimental objects from the Queens' pasts that were manifesting in their dream as comfort objects to keep them contented and asleep.


What's the deal with Latchkey?

The idea behind Latchkey was that they were the result of some sort of long ago Feralian conflict between magic and technology/automatons, and that they were created as a way to best Sparks because they have the ability to unbind things. Sort of an Iron Giant situation, where their memories have been lost but might be reclaimed someday. Their creator is likely the Puppetmaster, who, after years of storytelling, became more associated with puppets than mad scientistry because Myrefolk were the ones telling the stories, and they're like old people who aren't great at explaining newfangled technologies.


The Queens...

I think soulmates is a good term for the Queens. Their souls are bonded, so they're in it together for the long haul whether they're getting along, or not. The bond they share can be interpreted in all sorts of ways, and I'm sure it's meant different things at different times throughout the 2000 years they've been on Feral together. I really love them both--they've been at the center of what "Feral" is to me since we started this. They're my girls!!! Also, something I wanted to do with their writing was make them kind of nuts because more immortal characters should be kind of nuts.


I'm going to start wrapping things up here! This week has been really hard, but this day has been such an immense joy. Thank you all for your kind comments, and for all the memories you've shared!

As I was trying to decide what to release to you all this week, at first I didn't want to "spoil" anything. After all, we'd worked to keep so much secret! What if we got the chance to reveal it in some cool way? But as I thought about it, I realized that this would be my best chance to tie up the stories we worked to tell you. Because even if Feral is revived someday, the people who have followed the story til now are the ones who are here in this moment, and I want to finish it out with you.


So, how does Feral end?

It ends the way you end it. Maybe your Spark has all sorts of adventures across the planet, or embarks into the Betwixt, or settles into a form on the world of Feral, or they decide to move on. Their story is yours, because they're yours.

The characters who live in this world will continue to live there, as they've been doing for 150 years, even without their queens to guide them. They're still telling their stories, having adventures, and falling in love. They're yours now too.


From the whole WW team, thank you. Thank you for playing our game. Love you all.


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