In Vast, the narrative evolves from minute to minute. Both the GM and the players can send the story spiraling off in wild new directions at a moment’s notice. For us writers, that often means that for every idea we get into the show, there are two that never make it off the pages of the game doc. We talked with two of our fellow Vast writers (and contributed a bit ourselves) to bring you some stories about the Vast that could have been.
RICK BAER, Season 1 Episode 4, “THE CORSAIRS”
I designed the episode around a timed mechanic where the invading pirates would, in quick succession, disable vital systems (engines, weapons, life support, etc.) on board the Screaming Valor. Which systems went down and when would be determined by dice rolls. The idea was to create an episode driven by intense combat in claustrophobic quarters. The players would be spread thin and have to decide which parts of the ship to save and which to let fall to the pirates, which boarding parties to engage and which to ignore, which crew NPCs to sacrifice and which to let live. It was meant to be a test of their resolve and teamwork, and of Visionary Destroyer’s command abilities. I wanted to leave the Screaming Valor critically damaged and its crew beaten, so that they’d have something to work back from in subsequent episodes.
Of course, all this was dependent on the crew staying aboard the Valor, which very much did not happen. While some aspect of this mechanic remains in the episode, the players were not really able to engage with it as I had planned, and the episode took on a much different shape, culminating in an ending that left the crew of the Valor not beaten, but triumphant. But even though the cast largely ignored what I built for the episode, I do take some comfort in the fact that the episode set up story threads that continue to play out, even in Season 2.
EMMETT FUREY, Season 1 Episode 10, “THE HUNTED & THE DYING”
In episode 7 of VAST’s first season, Nydar the Mind learned that, in the process of enslaving his people, the Brightest Eye committed genocide against millions of Mind. There was some question if Nydar would remain loyal to his Brightest Eye captain, Visionary Destroyer, in light of this revelation. So in “The Hunted and the Dying,” I thought I’d give Nydar the opportunity to be disloyal. The crew of the Screaming Valor found a planet overrun by a colony of Brightest Eye at an earlier stage of their evolutionary development. Nydar was abducted by these “Bountiful and Thriving” and had a chance to become the queen of these sentient beings.
There are a couple of reasons why it would have been interesting to see how the Nydar mutiny might have played out. Visionary Destroyer was the only Brightest Eye serving aboard the Screaming Valor, because at the time no Brightest Eye would serve under him. Without Brightest Eye crew members under his command, the Screaming Valor would almost certainly have fallen to a Nydar/Bountiful and Thriving onslaught.
And the Screaming Valor entering the two-part finale with a mutinous Nydar in command could have had very fascinating ramifications. How would Captain Nydar have dealt with Lucy Bard? Would Visionary Destroyer have allowed regaining control of his ship to take a back burner to resolving the Slate crisis, or would he have complicated matters by trying to reclaim his captain’s seat while all of that chaos was still going on? We’ll never know for sure.
NICK GILMAN/RICK BUDD, season 1 episode 11, “LINKS”
After the loss of Sira and Good idea, the 11th episode of season 1, “Links,” was designed to be a chance for the crew of the Avalon to come together and start figuring out who they are as a team before facing the ultimate showdown we knew was coming in the finale. The crew was sent to an area of space that had been rocked by a civil war for hundreds of years and through their adventure managed to end that conflict. In the end, they were contacted by a representative of the previously warring factions.
In actuality, the crew accepted his gratitude and moved on, but this interaction could have gone so much further. If the crew had stayed and talked, they would have learned that the the factions of Links were not just grateful, but in fact, felt they owed a debt to the Avalon for helping them. The admiral was going to put the whole warfleet at Lucy’s disposal. With these forces at their back, the confrontation with the Screaming Valor and the Pac Ha flame ships would have looked totally different. Instead of being on the back foot, our heroes would have had a position of strength. And going into the future, Lucy would have always had an ally in the Admiral and his fleet.
Let us know what you think of these alternate visions of what could have been in the comments below and watch VAST on Alpha, Monday nights at 7:00 PM PDT — because even the writers honestly never know what’s going to happen.