A Fistful of Socks
The bulk of this game occurs in the Land of the Lost, an eclectic world built of things that humans lose. Each city within Land of the Lost comes from a specific area where things might get lost; for example, Linteria is filled with things that get lost in a washer/dryer while real-world money is used across the Land due to the fact that people lose money everywhere. Each town has its own style (Old Western, Metropolitan, etc) so that the set pieces are distinct and reflect the character of the NPCs that live there.
The art style for the Land should be whimsical and light, much like the NPCs will be. Even those areas and characters with darker content or ‘negative’ personality traits should still come across as loveable so that the truly dark and even horrifying events of the late game sneak up on players.
Area One: Home
- Your fancy apartment, where you need to go to your laundry room and get laundry out of the dryer to fold
- First person perspective
- Cat is sitting on top of the dryer
- You pull out a fistful of socks that didn’t come out with the rest of the laundry and notice one stuck in the back
- Player can choose to ignore sock or try to pull it out and get sucked into Land of the Lost
Area Two: Linteria
- Switch to third person perspective, where it will stay unless/until you get home again
- Populated by beings made of dryer lint
- Old West style
- You get to meet Lintsey!
- This far out from the capital, beings generally stay out of each other’s business so nobody really minds who you’re with or where you’re going
- Buildings you might see would include a Laundairy and a Soaploon
- Player actually lands just outside Linteria in an area where Lintsey is panning for who-knows-what lost thing, providing an opportunity for Lintsey to give a quick tutorial on fighting monsters, as monsters typically don’t spawn in cities
Area Three: The Train
- Train is made of ‘lost’ train cars, meaning they’re pretty dilapidated and have plenty of gaping holes that the unusually restless wildlife can use to get on board and harass the passengers
- Lintsey definitely tells you it’s the Land of the Lost, not the Land of the Perfect
- Monsters start out as laundry related things
- Hairball spiders
- Dryer lint that malformed
- Dryer sheet ghosts
- Shift to more couch-type monsters as you get closer to Sitton City
- Bobby pins
- Mushed up lost foods (raisins, crackers, popcorn)
Area Four: Sitton City
- Populated by people made of dust bunnies in the same way snowmen or the Michelin man is made; the denizens of Sitton City very much prefer the shade, shadows, and the dark
- A jungle-type setting: You really only see the edge of Sitton City, as the bulk is down in the Crevasse, a place no outsiders ever climb out of again. The outskirts of the city are built in the shadow of the pillowy gash in the ground, further shaded by jungle-like trees of lost cotton balls, broken pencils, and pieces of string
- Meet Dustin and his dust bunny pet Fluffernutter.
- Includes puzzle with a TV remote control
- First area to buy healing items, made from foods lost in a couch
- You’ll have to escape the loving embrace of Squish before you leave!
- You have to stop here because the train doesn’t go to Pencilton, the area you need to go to next to take a straight line to the capital, mostly because sometimes entire desks get misplaced and it raises the city elevation and ruins the tracks. It is currently on a desk. Yay for you
Area Five: The Climb
Area Six is office based and you have to climb to get to it, so have fun scaling the legs of a cheap office desk!
*Protag will need to create a tool to climb up using holey tights and some sort of weight.
- Enemies toward the bottom with be the couch-themed sort and gradually shift to office themed
- Thumb tacks
- Memo paper
- Name plates with random names on them (Easter egg: original names of boss monsters/people who work on the project)
Area Six: Pencilton
- Inhabited by Clips, annoyingly helpful and cheerful paperclips, a la the old Microsoft Clippy
- Metropolitan style, very orderly unless you go down some back alleys and to find areas that are the tangled mess that’s native to the Clip inhabitants – digging into this mess will both draw the attention of the area boss and lead you to the Key special item
- Special condition: Socks don’t spawn here, so players will have to ration their inventory accordingly
- You get to meet Clipton, who is a delight
- Meet and make a deal with Pencilton CEO Handy – he’s a busy Clip but he’ll make time for you
Have your first experience building through traps and puzzles using the corpses of your fallen enemies
- Potential buildings include Busy Corp and FileMax
Area Seven: Going Down
- Going down is easier than up, so this will be some kind of cart- or sledding-type mini game where you can still run into monsters
- Start with the office monsters, shift to medical ones
- Injection needles: Incredibly fast and heavily armored
- Bloody gauze
- Hearts, lungs, and other organs (tonsils might be funny)
- Severed digits or limbs, though less commonly
- Less common to get genuinely lost in hospitals
- Denizens of Medbane snatch them up to use as building material as they’re least likely to get found again if they stay longer than an hour or two
- Surgical scissors
Area Eight: Medbane
- Denizens are blown up medical gloves (white, blue, purple) with faces drawn on the palm, made to entertain children.
- Abandoned hospital style, with buildings typically made of tissue boxes or kidney dishes, but very occasionally made with a rare lost amputated body part or organ
- Get to meet Glover (emphasis his)
- Set up a consultation with The Surgeon, who would really like to talk to you about registering as an organ donor! … you know your skin is an organ, right?
Area Nine: Hoofing It
- Walking to Orphanage, the landscape goes from sterile with IV-post trees to a blasted landscape that may have been organic once
- Start with medical monsters, start shifting to various types of vengeful spirits – preferably pulled from multiple cultural traditions (La Llorona, slit-mouth girl, etc etc) – and potentially undead humans
Area Ten: Orphanage
- Populated by lost souls
- Post-apocalyptic style – once a proud capital city, carefully built from lost building materials gathered from all over the Land, now completely destroyed and overrun by malevolent spirits.
- Previously mostly a temporary space with plenty of kindly lost souls (from those who got lost and died/bodies haven’t been found yet) but currently littered with bodies because the chimera has decided if they’re lost, everyone gets to be lost, permanently
- Kindly lost souls are now prone to gather bodies and building with those. You make do with what you have, after all.
- Special Condition: The only city where monsters can and do spawn, as the spirits here are destined to become malevolent. The longer they’re forced to linger in the Land of the Lost, the more they lose their grip on who they are. Eventually, they go mad and attack anyone they can get their (ghostly) hands on.
- Get to meet [Unknown].
- Final boss fight, baby. You can wipe out this creature of nightmares in no time and get back before your laundry cools completely and with minimal psychological scarring. Maybe.
Name and appearance (male/female/non-binary) chosen by the player. The protag is a late-20s-early-30s person with a solid job in a stable field. A responsible human with a cat who has perhaps thrown in a bit too hard on the idea of being an adult, but who’s happy to put in extra hours on the job to demonstrate reliability and dedication to their career. Prone to skepticism and sarcasm in their dialogue at the start of the game, with player choices dictating the tone of dialogue later on.
Their cat would like to see them at home more.
This character is purposefully designed to be fairly bland so the player can put themselves into the protag’s place more readily.
An upbeat and bubbly pile of lint who would cheerfully tell you that hell is just fine because there’s always a campfire to roast marshmallows. Lintsey is resilient, insistent, and not always completely aware of how she affects those around.
Lintsey is the first being the protag meets in Land of the Lost. She is immediately your best friend (according to her) and is happy to show you evvvverything fun and cool about being lost!
Special skills: Muffle (prevents target from using special attacks) and Share (spreads incoming damage across the party)
A shy, quiet being who hides himself under a newsboy cap and a coat too large for his child-sized, dust-made body. Dustin can be easy to overlook and probably would just turn into another pile of dust if not for the fierce love he has for his bunny, Fluffernutter.
Though hard to read, those who take the time with Dustin will be rewarded with rare smiles, nods, and maybe even a hug. He speaks softly and only when he has to, preferring to curl up next to someone he trusts and flip through a picture book with Fluffernutter.
Special skills: Blind (lowers target’s ability to land attacks) and Dust Storm (slows target + deals attack damage because Fluff bites them on the butt while they're slow)
The protective pet dust bunny to Dustin, Fluffernutter (Fluff, if he likes you) is more than willing to bite a few butts to keep Dustin feeling calm and safe. He won’t accept your judgment for preferring to bite butts; he comes from a couch, after all. Named for the globs of white marshmallow goo that dot his body, Fluffernutter has no time or patience for anyone but Dustin, to whom he is unfailingly loyal with his attempts to be helpful.
Special Skills: Helps with Dustin’s second Special Skill and will bite enemies for damage at random during battle (not in player control, RNG)
A dour and deliberately unhelpful paperclip that will go out of their way to avoid answering questions, always in the most sour, sarcastic way possible. Typically, their heavy-lidded stare is one of disbelief at the absolute stupidity of the entire world around them. Despite their greatest efforts, though, Clipton can’t deny their origins and occasionally pops out with cheerful and helpful information, driving themself absolutely nuts every time.
Special skills: Unhelpful (confusion) and Hold (keep monster in place, preventing them from attacking or dodging)
Glover (emphasis his) will flirt with anything that moves, male, female, and unspecified. A medical glove with a very suave face, 9/10s of his personality is pick up lines. Likes to let his fingers fall in his face and sweep them back with his thumb because it makes him look dashing.
Special skill: Heal and Sleep
A ghost girl with huge, sad eyes, tatty hair, and the air of a lost puppy, [Unknown] will follow the player regardless of if they invite her to, at least as far as up to the boss arena. Although mute, [Unknown] just wants friends and is more than happy to be sociable with members of the party using gestures, facial expressions, and occasionally writing, though not being a particularly malevolent entity she lacks the strength to write often. [Unknown] worries a lot about whether people really want her around and can sometimes be a bit try-hard because of it, but her actions are always meant to be helpful.
Despite appearing lost, [Unknown] knows all the ins and outs of Orphanage and can prompt the player to avoid fights with particularly nasty spirits, bad food choices, and back routes to reach desirable items. If invited into the party, she will offer everything she knows in the hopes of proving useful. If not invited, she will throw out information at random intervals in an attempt to balance being useful with not being annoying, but not reveal any secret locations as she isn’t sure if she’ll need to hide from the player.
The girl’s actual name is [Unknown] but as she can’t communicate that, if the player invites her along they get to assign her a name. If the name includes the word ‘soul’, [Unknown] will immediately offer the bonus item “Men’s Garters”.
Special Skills: Cry (cries a river and causes the ‘drowning’ status effect on the target, reducing the target’s HP every round) and Wail (causes explosions against the target’s head, dealing severe damage)
Boss toward the end of The Train. Just a wild mish-mosh of the creatures you’ve come across so far, no real motivation except that it’s wild and aggressive. You can choose to abandon the other beings on the train and walk the rest of the way, or to fight and protect the others, who reward you with some fresh socks and healing items.
Boss in Sitton City. Just wants to give you a nice hug and drag you into the dark with them forever. They came from the dark and think everyone should be happy to stay there. If you have Dustin with you, they follow you through the city until they’re prepared to attack and won’t let you leave with Dustin without a fight. If not, they appear occasionally in case you handily fall into the Crevasse but leave you alone so long as you don’t spend too much time in the city – uses the clock tower (somebody’s watch propped on top of an old Goldfish container) to keep track of how long you’ve been there.
The CEO of Pencilton, ‘respected’ and feared by all the paperclips and found sitting on a grand office chair of Clips and a desk made of pencils. Handy believes that none of them would have gotten lost if only their owners had been more organized and is thus almost pathologically determined to make Pencilton ‘perfectly tidy’, believing that if he can just achieve that, all of Pencilton will reach the nirvana of being found and used properly.
Manically positive, Handy will only communicate using helpful questions/suggestions, even if what he’s saying is “It seems like you’re trying to upend everything. Would you like help dying?”
A proponent of order and organization, Handy busies himself using goons – sorry, employees – to take down the buildings of the other Clips if they aren’t tidy enough. If you have a party with you, Handy is not happy to see you walking through Pencilton with members of other cities, disrupting the city’s normalcy. Handy will have you hunted down and pick a fight. If you don’t have a party, Handy will simply ask you where you’re going and offer that you’re more than welcome to take Clipton since he’s a problem child.
Boss in Medbane, made of extremely rare lost limbs, digits, and organs. Stitched together by a pair of medical gloves who then untied themselves and put themselves on the thing’s hands out of a desire to be in surgery again. Knows about the Chimera. It’s probably willing to give up some information on it when defeated (before dying) as the gloves are convinced their surgeon would have found them again if the chimera wasn’t gumming up the works.
Ultimate boss, made up of a lost little boy, a work-eaten man, and the protag’s BFF. It’s an abomination with spectral abilities, including psychic attacks. It’s currently using its abilities to prevent anything being “found” – meaning you can’t go home. In anger and bitterness over being lost and forgotten, it wishes to see everyone and everything becoming lost with it.
The faces of the three humans that make up the Chimera seem to be melted and blurry, preventing them from being immediately recognizable. The protag will not be able to recognize Face Three, The Best Friend, but it will recognize the protag.
Each face has a different attack pattern. Each face also represents something the protag is currently denying themself, though that will only become obvious if all lore items are found along the way.
Face One, The Child: Attacks will childish rage, using broken toys (that can be seen included in his lore) to attack. Represents the fact that protag has decided they are an ‘adult’ and that means no more fun because it’s all ‘childish’
Face Two, The Employee: Attacks methodically and with preparation, meaning his attacks can sometimes take a couple of turns to prepare. Once unleashed, however, they are impossible to dodge. One attack should definitely involve his work phone. Reps the fact that the protag’s work is taking advantage of the protag’s desire for stability and robbing them of other, non-work opportunities.
Face Three, The Best Friend: Largely psychic attacks to lower the defenses of enemies or raise the defenses/heal the Chimera. Even once she identifies the protag, the protag isn’t able to remember her name. Reps the need for network and connectivity with other humans for support and safety.
My current thought is that the player has an inventory with limited slots – their right pocket and their left pocket. One pocket can hold socks, the other can hold bits and bobs one comes across (or gains from monster drops) that might be useful for building (gum, rubber bands, string, elastic, etc) plus healing items.
The sock pocket can obviously hold fewer items because socks can be pretty bulky, depending on the type (e.g., a tube sock might take up four inventory slots, a crew sock two, a slip-on may take just one), plus the protag learns early that getting pairs of socks suddenly makes the socks found so they disappear.
The bits and bobs pocket should have just as many slots but most items are only going to take one slot. These items can stack up to 10.
Socks are the main tool and only weapon/armor in this game. Here are just a few ideas:
- Found everywhere
- Your basic sock, does basic damage. Kind of boring but it works. Enemies in the back row take less damage because you have to reach further.
- Good for covering pointy edges that might hurt you on your builds
- Holey crew socks make very basic armor
- Found in Sitton City (just one, to get to the hidden item) and every area afterward
- An aggressive sock. Snap attacks do vary wildly from low-range to occasionally critical damage, but most often mid-range damage.
- Can reach enemies in the back row easily. The length and stretch are also extremely useful for building
- Holey tube socks used as armor mostly make you trip and fall, but do have the potential to occasionally enemy attacks so you take zero damage
- Found in The Climb and every area after
- A sneaky sock that can be fired from the finger for a ninja star-like attack. Cuts through armor like butter
- Holey no-show socks make slightly better armor than crew socks for frontal attacks, but provide no protection against back attacks
- Extra warm sock
- Can be unraveled with the use of a sharp tool to provide you with string
- Holey woolen socks can be used as an excellent armor but it will slow your movements a bit
- Found in Medbane and Hoofing It
- A sure-footed sock that does midrange damage with a quality critical rate. Can also be used to Wrap enemies, stopping them in place so they can’t attack and you can, with a different sock. Can be retrieved after battle only.
- Holey hospital socks make good armor, as the non-skid spots absorb a good deal of damage
- Key: Hidden item, found in Pencilton. Required to receive the secret ending. Cannot be used as a tool to build but can be used as a weapon
- Men’s Garters: A bonus item, received from [Unknown] in Orphanage. When attached to a pair of socks they turn the socks into a distance weapon
- Only weapon that can be upgraded – they can only have one upgrade at a time
- Added elastic means you get a second attack at an RNG between 50-80% of the full attack
- Using needle and thread to stitch it a bit shorter means it comes back faster and your next turn thus comes 50% faster
- Added weights means it can do a grapple plus extra bludgeoning damage
- Added sticks turns it into a sling shot and you can shoot items from your inventory at a monster for different types of damage (credit card slices and dices, lint forces the enemy to do a strength check to burst it or be forced to skip a turn, etc)
- Only weapon that can be upgraded – they can only have one upgrade at a time
- Relationship items: Each character you can add to your party also has one item you can find to help max out your friendship with that character
Healing items must be purchased at shops in towns. In fact, they’re the only items you can purchase at the shops in town!
Healing items are recombined lost foods and the stranger combinations may provide you with a bonus… or just a stomachache. Remember that the citizens of the Land of the Lost aren’t human and not all of their foods are suitable for human digestion!
Shopkeepers will take great pride in the foods they provide you. Maybe make sure not to insult their creativity in front of them, it might not end well…
Recombining lost food is one of the only art forms the Land of the Lost has. Might make for some fun side quests!
Building is a key element in this game and helps create scarcity with weapons, adding an extra level of challenge for the player. It’s also required for crossing a realm wherein things go lost (or get found) all the time. You never know when a building, road, or bridge that was meant to be somewhere suddenly won’t be, or a path that should’ve been clear will be blocked.
Building is a skill the player brings with them; denizens of the Land of the Lost aren’t terribly creative when it comes to problem-solving, just when it comes to recombining lost bits of food.
Potential Building Items by Area
Linteria and surrounding travel zones
- Dryer lint
- Hair ties
- Bobby pins
Sitton City and surrounding travel zones
- Plastic utensils
- Random playing cards
Pencilton and surrounding travel zones
- Pencils (yes this is also an enemy – players will need to use the corpses of the monsters they’ve killed to build into some areas)
- Sticky notes
- Pencil shavings
- Sticky tack
Medbane and surrounding travel zones
- Tongue depressors
- Surgical needles
- Suture thread
- Injection needles (enemy)
A very basic relationship mechanic that’s mostly there to help unlock the true ending, relationship maxing requires a set number of interactions with a character, plus the gifting of one special item meant specifically for that character. Characters do not have to be in the party to increase your relationship with them.
Players may have up to three members in their party, including the protag. While characters in later cities will come to the player at higher levels to start, characters not in your party will not continue to gain levels
There are a few questions that linger at the end of the Land of the Lost. First of all, how did the Chimera come to be in the first place? Denizens of the Land of the Lost will assure the protag that nothing like this has ever happened before, so why is it happening now? Some observers may also note that the people making up the Chimera cry not only about being lost, but about being forgotten – a word nobody else applies to themselves in this world.
The answer is fairly simple; the Land of the Lost sits above the Land of the Forgotten, a truly horrific place that even dear Lintsey would have difficulty finding a bright side for, and someone in that land has decided that they should never have been forgotten – and they’re angry, spiteful, and driven enough to collect the power to do something about it. This someone is present in Fistful of Socks: Land of the Lost, but I’d prefer not to name them here. What’s important is that this being created the Chimera as a first foray into finding a way to never be forgotten. Having failed, they will try again.
My thought is that the story should be in three parts, with the fact that there is an overall antagonist revealed during the second game and the identity of that antagonist shared in the third. The ideas are still largely undeveloped, but here’s what I have so far:
A Fistful of Socks: A Bridge to Nowhere
In your travels back and forth from the Land of the Lost, you’ve started noticing that some familiar faces have gone missing. When you check with your friends about what’s going on, they assure you that some beings have started taking the bridge to Nowhere – a mythical place where things go to be found (Nowhere to be found, ha ha). On your journey across the bridge to Nowhere you encounter locations in trains, cars, buses, airplanes, and other types of travel (haunted sunken ships anyone?). Upon reaching Nowhere, however, you find … nothing, and no beings. Separated from your party and utterly disoriented, you eventually find yourself falling into the Land of the Forgotten, a place where nothing has a face.
Naturally the only thing to do will be to get your friends and get back out again, but during your time there you not only witness the horrible state of everything existing there, you learn that someone there is amassing power. While you can succeed at rescuing all of your friends and returning to the Land of the Lost, you can’t forget about that power or the fact that it seems to know you.
Gameplay would be similar to the previous game early on, but I think there’s definitely room for some new, difficult mechanics in the Land of the Forgotten.
A Fistful of Socks: The Land of the Forgotten
Months down the road from Bridge to Nowhere, you are still unsettled by your journey to Nowhere and haunted by nightmares of what you saw in the Land of the Forgotten. It doesn’t concern you too much until you wake one morning and find that not all of the things in your nightmares haven’t all disappeared. The Land of the Forgotten has started emerging into the real world.
Gameplay would include both ‘real world’ and LOTL/LOTF areas, so there’s a place for first person play and third person. Also, I think it would be cool to have the protag be able to retcon some of their LOTL skills to solve problems/puzzles in the real world, though probably not just with socks. That should allow familiar players to feel at home while offering new ways to play in and experience the story.
@Ice-cream-fairy This whole story concept is fascinating but in a weird way. I would almost compare it to some type of Miyazaki film in its strangeness. I like the incentive for the protag - just get to your kitty! I think it's got rich lore and a complex system in place which is also reminiscent of Silent Hill (at least, that's the inspirational 'vibe' I'm picking up on from reading this). I think this would play off really well as a two-person game. One as the game master, and another as the protag. Intriguing stuff, for sure.
@SerasStreams Oh, thank you so much! I'm completely flattered that you would mention Miyazaki; his films are so awesome and I admit I had it in my head that the game could be a bit reminiscent.
@Ice-cream-fairy Happy you enjoy the compliment
I am really seeing more of the Silent Hill vibes coming off of this now on a second read-through. Definitely, something that, should it be made into something that is readily consumable, is something I would definitely buy for a 1-shot night or two.
Would love to do a campaign using the setting/rules/ideas, but my group is super into Fantasy and World of Darkness, respectively.
This idea is super fun. I never would have thought the ideas of wholesome and horror would mesh so well together.
@ae-writer85 Thanks! I think it's the most fun kind of horror myself.
@Ice-cream-fairy I have to agree.