Creatures of the Snow

a Sci-Fi Adventure by Bill_Ingersoll

Commended by mizal on 10/9/2020 4:49:27 AM

Player Rating?/8

"Too few ratings to be ranked"
based on 8 ratings since 10/08/2020
played 63 times (finished 10)

Story Difficulty3/8

"trek through the forest"

Play Length6/8

"It'll be a while, better grab a SnickersĀ®"

Maturity Level4/8

"need to be accompanied by an adult"
Contains content that may not be suitable for persons under age 13. If this were a movie, it would probably be PG.

Creatures TitleIt is the distant future, and Earth has been ravaged by an ancient war with an alien foe known as the Cryndy. The War of Extermination, as it was called, left the world scarred by flames and littered with the debris of ruined warships and Battle Mech. The surviving human population lives in scattered settlements called Steads.

Elia Redling is an outcast in a remote Stead located at the edge of one of those ancient battlefields. With neighbors who are fearful of her red hair due to superstitions she barely understands, Elia spends her days hunting alongside her pet fox, Olix, exploring the surrounding woods and ruins in search of their daily meals.

One gloomy afternoon she finds evidence humanity's ancient menace may still be stalking the woods surrounding the Stead. She could notify her neighbors, but will they believe her — or blame her for bringing this threat upon them? If her suspicions are correct, though, this may turn out to be more than she can handle herself…

Important Stats:

  • 9 endings spread across 39 total pages
  • Individual storypath lengths range from 5 to 18 pages
  • Written for the Sci-Fi September Prompt!

© 2020 Bill Ingersoll

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Player Comments

The first thing that came to mind when I think about this story is that it feels like a brief glimpse into a much larger world. As I read through each branch, I somehow felt that there was a lot more to the setting than is mentioned in the text. Perhaps this has something to do with the excellent quality of the world building, even for a story with a relatively simple plot such as this. There are so many interesting little details sprinkled throughout, such as the existence of genetically engineered animals as well as humans on the planet, or the fact that a large portion of the human population took to the stars in search of a more inhabitable world. Though these little tidbits are not really necessary to move the story along, they add a some depth to it, leaving the reader with a little more to wonder about after they're done. For me personally, the idea of "Red Burnings" really intrigued me, perhaps because they are reminiscent of book burnings. What's interesting to me is that both are rooted in fear and ignorance. For book burnings, it's usually an aversion to new ideas contradictory to those of the ones doing the burning, and for red burnings, it's an adherence to superstition. It would probably be possible to write a whole new story around that concept alone.

The well developed setting lends itself excellently to the plot. I already mentioned that it is fairly simple, with most branches taking place over the course of less than 24 hours. At it's core, it's really just a narrative about an outcast girl trying to help save her people from an outside threat and hopefully get a little glory in the process. There is no oppressive authoritarian dictatorship to overthrow or intergalactic war to be won, (at least, there hasn't been for a long, long time), which, for me at least, is kind of refreshing. For some reason, I tend to automatically assume that all stories are going to escalate until the stakes are at least at end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it levels, especially with anything Science-Fiction or Fantasy. This isn't to say that there aren't already a surplus of stories that do this, but it's still always nice to hear a story about a person trying to save just one settlement instead of every living thing on the planet.

There are one or two specific plot elements I'd like to focus on for a little while. Firstly, I'd like to draw attention to the cleverness of having a superstition against the color red. I already touched on one of the ways the story explores the implications of something like this when I mentioned Red-Burnings, but there are a few other well done aspects of this that I'd like to cover. The most obvious of these is the idea that anyone with red hair is immediately ostracized, something that often comes up in the plot. Even more interesting, however, is the origin of this superstition. Supposedly, the Cryndy are drawn to the color, attacking it on sight. Though none of these creatures have been seen for generations, the fear of the color still remains. This has got to be the most logical way I have ever heard of any superstition being born. Even in real life, it's usually something dumb that causes them. For example, someone just so happens to wear a certain sweater on a certain day, then randomly finds a hundred dollar bill lying on the sidewalk. From that day on, they think that sweater is lucky, and ignore all evidence that conflicts with this theory. I actually kind of wonder if this is what happened in this story. It may have just been an oversight on the part of the author, but the protagonist's red hair never seems to actually come into play when fighting the Cryndy. It could be like how everyone assumes bulls hate the color red, when in actuality, they just don't like having someone wave a cape around in their face.

The other thing I'd like to focus on is not as well done. Throughout the story, a lot of characters never seem to have much of an emotional reaction to death. For example, when they hear the chief and his sons getting killed over the radio, nobody really seems to bat an eye. Even in a harsh environment like this, and even if the protagonist doesn't think too highly of him, I would have at least expected there to be a moment or two of shocked silence when the weight of what had just happened sunk in. This is their leader we're talking about, losing him has got to have some sort of impact on moral.

While we're on the subject of things that could be improved, I did notice a couple places where the pacing seemed just a tad bit off. To be clear, the vast majority of this story was great in this regard, and at this point I'm mostly just being nitpicky, but it wasn't always perfect. For one thing, the drunk snowman seemed to be able to gather his friends together a lot more quickly than should be possible. Unless I missed some sort of short time jump, it seemed like one second he was going to get reinforcements, and the next he was already back with an army. Maybe the snowmen can communicate in ways we humans cannot, but it still should take some amount of time to pass the memo along. Another pacing problem was at the very end of page 36, right before the end game link. One of the snowmen just casually mentions that the protagonist should be made chief, and the story ends. This felt a little too abrupt, as it had nothing building up to it. The really strange thing about it, to me at least, was the fact that this was done so well in the branch that ends on page 39. I understand that it's a hassle to write basically the same thing twice, but if I hadn't read the ending on page 39 before the one on 36, I would have been very confused.

Anyways, now that the obligatory constructive criticism is over with, I guess I can go back to saying how much I liked this story now. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone in need of a few hours worth of quality Science-Fiction content, so if you haven't already done so, go ahead and give this story some love.
-- jster02 on 10/14/2020 1:09:30 AM with a score of 2
Surprisingly well written and engaging, with a unique take on a post apocalyptic setting and a likeable protagonist. (And a cute fox!!)

I hope I don't offend anyone if I say the writing here is much better than what I've come to expect from this site, I'd recommend this author to anyone.
-- AmritaB on 10/13/2020 1:04:40 PM with a score of 1
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