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World-Building TTRPG Style with Citizen Sleeper’s Refuge Update

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

Hello again, I’m Gareth Damian Martin, the (mostly) solo developer behind the indie Game Pass hit Citizen Sleeper. Back in July I was here on Xbox Wire to speak about Flux, our first episodic update for the game, and I’m back today for Refuge, the second episode in our three-episode run of free DLC!

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Refuge picks up where Flux left off, deep within a refugee crisis that threatens the space station Erlin’s Eye. But at the start of this update a shocking event shifts the balance of power on the Eye, and forces players, and the characters they have allied with, to consider their future on the station.

While Flux was a race against time filled with hard choices and high pressure actions, Refuge is a slower, more explorative episode. In it, you gain access to the refugee flotilla and meet characters from the moons of a gas giant named Ember, located elsewhere in the Helion solar system. This means Refuge is an opportunity for me to tell you more about the wider universe of Citizen Sleeper, and engage in that classic RPG activity of world-building.


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And yet, like everything with Citizen Sleeper, I like to do things a little differently. While I’ve been known to happily spend many hours reading codex and lore entries for the likes of Mass Effect and Destiny 2, as a developer I often prefer to let my characters drive my worldbuilding. In Refuge that means you’ll come to understand the wider context of the Helion system through the refugees you meet and the ships they travel on.

Like many aspects of Citizen Sleeper, (from its dice to its focus on player choice) this approach is inspired by TTRPGs (or tabletop roleplaying games for the uninitiated). A good Game Master will never simply dump a ton of lore on a player in your typical campaign or session, so instead they must use the primary tool at their disposal, characters and environmental description, to tell the player about the world.

In Refuge this translates to me bringing the Helion system to the Eye through the voices and personalities of three characters, the reluctant leader Sol, the steely engineer Petr and the mysterious Aki. I really hope you’ll enjoy meeting these three and finding out more about them and the places they came from in this episode. I’ve worked hard to make them compelling windows into their worlds as well as distinct personalities, and as always our artist, Guillaume Singelin, has skillfully sketched them into existence.

character closeup

And this is just the beginning, as Citizen Sleeper is a game set in a world that I am still building, each and every day. Refuge is the next step in the story, but in early 2023 you can look forward to the final episode in this sequence, one that will have far-reaching consequences for the entire solar system and all who live within it.

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And after that? Well, that would be giving a little too much away. A good GM knows how to keep secrets after all. But let’s just say that the world of Citizen Sleeper will continue to grow as long as I have characters to talk about it, new places to send you to and, of course, players like you to explore it all.

I hope you enjoy the newest episode, and if you do then head to twitter and let [email protected] or the game account @CitizenSleeper know what you think. I’ll see you again for the grand finale in 2023, but until then, good luck in Refuge and thank you to everyone for supporting and playing Citizen Sleeper this year!

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Citizen Sleeper

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ROLEPLAYING IN THE RUINS OF INTERPLANETARY CAPITALISM From the developer of In Other Waters, and featuring the stunning character art of Guillaume Singelin, Citizen Sleeper is a narrative RPG set on Erlin’s Eye, a ruined space station that is home to thousands of people trying to survive on the edges of an interstellar capitalist society. You are a sleeper, a digitised human consciousness in an artificial body, owned by a corporation that wants you back. Thrust amongst the unfamiliar and colourful inhabitants of the Eye, you need to build friendships, earn your keep, and navigate the factions of this strange metropolis, if you hope to survive to see the next cycle. LIFE ON ERLIN’S EYE
An abandoned station on the edge of a system in crisis. Now it is held together by anarchic alliances, ramshackle factions and a shared desire to be free from corporate control. DO THE WORK. GET PAID. SURVIVE.
Each cycle you choose what to do with your time. Make or break alliances, uncover truths and escape your hunters. Survive and ultimately thrive, one cycle at a time. TURN UP FOR FRIENDS
The Eye plays host to characters from all walks of life. Salvagers, engineers, hackers and more – each has a history. You choose who to help, and together shape your future. ACCESS THEIR SECRETS
Hack the station’s cloud to access data, new areas and secrets. This is your power, and it can change your future. Corporate secrets, rogue AIs and troves of lost data await. YOU WERE MADE TO DIE
Essen-Arp: to them you are just another asset in their almost infinite portfolio. Escape your decaying body’s makers, and chart your own path in a richly imagined sci-fi world. INSPIRED BY TABLETOP ROLEPLAYING GAMES
Citizen Sleeper uses dice, clocks and drives to create a player-led experience, where you choose your path in a rich and responsive world. CITIZEN SLEEPER EPISODES
This free post-launch episodic content introduces new characters and locations in an expanded storyline. True to Citizen Sleeper’s TTRPG roots, these three episodes will offer an expansive campaign module that tells the longest and most complex story to be featured in the game to date. In the first episode, FLUX, the first ships from a refugee flotilla arrive at Erlin’s Eye in response to pressures in the Helion system. Now, in REFUGE, a strange event sends ripples through the communities of the Eye. You will enter the flotilla to try to understand this new threat, and help the refugees stabilise their community. The story of the flotilla, the FLUX event and your Sleeper will conclude in the third episode, arriving early 2023.

Website: LINK

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