As a follow-up to the release of our first Mandatory Upgrade themed video game “X Marks the Spot“, this week I’m posting the short story that was the inspiration for the game. The Hobbyist is a prequel to X Marks the Spot and was written as an exploration of some of the themes and technologies of the Mandatory Upgrade world and how they affect the people who inhabit it.

When it comes to role-playing games, it’s sometimes too easy to get caught up in the whiz-bang technology, or magical or otherworldly aspects of the setting and forget about the thing that really makes RPGs work: characters. I find that the best way for me personally to get a handle on a new world, fantastical or not, is to write some fiction set in that world from the point of view of those who live there everyday. The Hobbyist is the happy result of this process.

The story takes place before the events in X Marks the Spot at a time when Rachel Varley has left active service with NASIA to settle down with her partner and start a family.  As you’ll discover when reading (and from the video game, if you’ve played it), her plans don’t exactly work out the way she expected.

Whether you’ve played through X Marks the Spot or you’re new to the world of Agent Varley, you’ll be sure to enjoy this glimpse into life in the near-future world of Mandatory Upgrade.

Short story link: The Hobbyist

Video game link: Mandatory Upgrade: X Marks the Spot

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