Twonky Island Story Bible

[A story bible provides the shared background for a fictional work that many people have to work on, or that one person works on over an extended period of time.  It's the author's analog of documentation for software.]

Plot Structure

The player can proceed in two ways

The final text might look something like this:

"You return to the open air, exhausted but elated at vanquishing the Twonkies. Activating the homing beacon, you wait for the task force to pick you up.

Several months later, an asteroid impact levels the Midwestern United States. The dust cloud has wiped out plants on a planetary scale, and the survival of mammalian life, including humans, is now in doubt. It seems you did not act quickly enough to foil the Twonkies nefarious scheme...or were they only trying to help?"

The initial setting is intended to entice the player down the Rambo path.  This is a bit unfair, but has the advantage of maximizing replayability for someone who falls for it, assuming that the closing for that path indicates the problem with the choice they've made, as above.  The player starts out morally neutral.  Once the player steps into the dark side, they stay there: The Twonkies are quite unforgiving.  A player who starts cooperatively might decide to become nasty, and the Twonkies will behave accordingly.  (Since this option is frequently possible, it is not shown in the plot structure below.)

Here is the overall structure of the plot:

Twonky Island Plot Structure 2.gif (8271 bytes)

Main events

Here are sketches of the events above.  The details will need to be filled in as part of finishing the story

Getting Laser Saw

In Rambo mode, this means getting the saw away from the Red Twonky that has it somehow and killing the Red with it. In cooperative mode, this means convincing the Red that you need it to get the code. 

The setting for this event will take some thought.  What is the Red doing, that it needs the laser saw?  How will the player know that this is a potentially valuable weapon?  How will the player get the saw away from the Red?

Getting Transponder

The transponder is necessary to get access to the Twonky Lair.  (All the Twonkies have their transponders built-in, this Red happens to have a transponder from a malfunctioning Blue.)  In Rambo mode, killing the Red will cause it to drop the transponder.  In Cooperative mode, the player has to talk the Red out of it.

The setting for this event will take some thought.  What is the Red doing, and why?

Getting Translator

Optional for Rambo mode, just kill the Red.  For cooperative mode, must help the Twonky somehow to convince it that you are on its side.  Then it will give you the translator, and suggest that you see the Gold.  To make it more interesting, consider not mentioning the need for the transponder until the player comes back.

The setting for this event will take some thought.  The Red will have to have some plausible reason for being where it is.  Moreover, the Red must have gotten into some predicament from which the player can extricate it in order to show the player's good intentions.  What should this be? 

Finding Gold

Follow the Blues until you reach the Twonky Lair.  This needs to have a door that lets Twonkies in but keeps the player out, until they have the transponder.

Killing Gold


Establish relationship with Gold

Here is where the initial Twonky rampage gets explained, at least if the player asks.   The Gold explains that they are trying to save humanity from an asteroid that will hit the Earth in a couple of months.  They are doing this by enhancing the experimental SDI system that is being tested from this island.  It is a space-based system, but with ground components, and they have been stripping the island of electronic and power system components to build a system that will augment the SDI system to have enough power to destroy/divert the asteroid in time.  But they need the code to unlock the system, which you have to find.

Get Code

The code is in a safe in the laboratory.  The safe hasn't been implemented yet.   It should probably be hidden, revealing itself only through a search of the premises (or some object found in the premises.  There should be at least two ways to open the safe: Use the laser saw, and figure out the combination from something else.


The overall setting is a tropical island.  The only mandatory locations are

Presumably the Command Dish is somewhere to be found. Or maybe not -- it could have been stripped for parts.  Other locations should be added as needed, including logical places for material needed to solve a puzzle (e.g., a rope might be found in a sailboat shed near a wharf). 

Twonky lore

The Twonkies are a race of machines.  So far, the appearance has been described as 1950s radios with lithe, flexible limbs, in homage to Lewis Padgett, but this could be changed if there is enough demand. (I find the surrealistic image of an ant-like colony of walking old-fashioned radios with a variety of  ray weaponry oddly appealing.)   What is key is that they are a colony species, using radio for long-distance communication between members.  The implications of this include

There are three types of Twonkies: Gold, Red, and Blue. 

The Gold Twonky

The Gold Twonky is the analog of the queen in an ant colony.  If the Gold is destroyed, the members of the colony instantly become incapacitated.  (They are communicating via radio, so presumably the Gold sends out some sort of death rattle that shuts the others down.  We don't know if they are evolved or if they are manufactured, so this needn't make evolutionary sense.) 

The Gold is unarmed, and can only be killed by the laser saw.

In the game, the Gold is located in the Twonky Lair and never leaves it.  The Gold has the most sophisticated intellect, and if the player is nice, will be the character that explains what is going on and enlists the player's help.

Red Twonkies

The Red Twonkies are the analog to the soldier or leaf cutter ants in an ant colony.   They handle specialists tasks, leaving general toting and fetching to the Blues (described below).  Reds are not very talkative, but they do speak (which sounds to the player like buzzing or static, until they have the translator) to give orders to Blues or to respond to a cooperative player. 

The Reds are armed with blue beams.  The blue beams weaken humans.  Three hits with a blue beam in short succession is invariably fatal.  However, if the player can remain unscathed for n turns, their vitality returns to normal.   (What n should be is something yet to be figured out.)

In the game, there are three Reds.  Each of them starts at a specific location, and stays there, unless the player chooses Rambo mode and succeeds in killing one of them.   In that case, the Reds hunt the player down and attack with their blue beams.   (The red beam mentioned in the note that was responsible for all the carnage is the laser saw.)  Each Red has some object that the player will need to finish the game, at least in  cooperative mode.  In Rambo mode the translator is strictly speaking unnecessary.  However, it would be a nice touch for the Reds to be belligerent, the Gold regretful, and the Blues to be terrified in Rambo mode, and have their utterances be understood by the player.

Blue Twonkies

The Blue Twonkies are the analog to the worker ants in an ant colony.  They handle all the mundane jobs, under the direction of Reds or the Gold.  Unlike worker ants, Blues are chatterboxes.  They buzz happily when they see each other on the path, or the player (in Cooperative mode), and their buzzes are translated if the player has the translator. They buzz with terror/fright/depression when they see the player in Rambo mode.  (Killing a Blue should feel a bit like killing a smurf.)

Blues are unarmed, and can be killed by grenades or the laser saw.  Kicking or punching them should lead to some amusing action , randomly chosen, in Rambo mode, and hurt surprise/reproach in Cooperative mode.

In this game, the Blues are transporting material from the three Red Twonkies to the Twonky Lair, where other Blues are building a machine, under supervision of the Gold.   The player will uncover the Twonky Lair by following Blues.  To make this a bit trickier, we might want to have Blues moving between the Reds as well.  This suggests having at least six Blues, and probably more like 8 or 10, to lend to the general confusion. 

Twonky Motivations

The initial killing frenzy was caused by the humans shooting at the Twonkies while the Gold was exposed.  This sets off a killing rage in Twonky colonies, where extreme deadly force (i.e., the laser saw) is used against anything that even looks like aggression.  With the Gold safely underground, they respond to aggressive acts somewhat less strongly, via blue beams.  (There is only one laser saw, and the player won't be considered hostile until a Red is destroyed, which requires getting the laser saw.   If there were more laser saws and the Reds used them, presumably we'd have to weaken the Reds and give the player more access to weaponry to keep play more balanced.)

Why the Twonkies want to save humanity is not yet specified.  This is something that should come up during the conversation with the Gold, if the player asks, and we need to figure out a plausible/interesting/amusing answer.


Last edited 3/29/01, by Ken Forbus