Here's a rundown of the notes I took from the group brainstorming.
Our Protagonist is in their early-to-mid 20s. The setting starts off in 1960s San Fransisco (this can be disputed, I just like the travel distance between San Fran and Harlem/Baltimore), the hometown of our main character. His (or her, it isn't set in stone yet) objective is to find their Great Grandfather ("Mr. Knickerbocker"), who was last seen 40ish years ago in the San Fransisco train station boarding a train headed to Harlem NY.
The protagonist knows very little about their Great Grandfather, but they have a coin trinket that belonged to him. They got a tip that a mysterious train that never loads or unloads passengers appears at the same time every few days at the same train station the Great Grandfather was last seen. The Protag brings a couple of their friends to investigate this rumor. They wait for the train on the hour it's supposed to arrive, but it doesn't. The friends insist on giving up on the rumor and leave, but the Protag decides to stay a while longer. Once they leave the train arrives. Our Protag is confronted by the Conductor that the train "is not for you", and is rejected entry, but our Protag sneaks onto the back of the train.
Playable setting and overview:
On a train, it crashes in Baltimore before being able to make it's way to Harlem. The main
character has to avoid the crash and make it to the Harlem train station to stop the cycle and save
RANDOM DETAILS WORTH KEEPING IN MIND:
- Protag initially starts out in the 1960s, but upon boarding the train is set back to the 1920s (unbeknownst to them until later in the game), then re-enters the 1960s at the end of the game
- friends abandon main character at the opening of the game
- The San Fransisco train station is the game starting point. When the ghost train arrives the Protag sneaks onto the very last train cart. They have to make their way from the back to the front of the train in able to switch the tracks and avoid repeating the Baltimore crash.
- the further the Protag makes their way down the train carts, the more damaged the ghost characters and train become
- conductor lost half of his body in the 1920s crash (protag finds the bones of his legs mid-way through the game--a type of foreshadowing)
- fireman became blind in the 1920s train accident (becomes a sidekick, is actually the great grandpa, but this isn't discovered until near the end)
- "Cincinnati jacket and a sad-luck dame" is a depressed young woman the protag meets in the train bar/restaurant. She drinks away her sorrows and is unaware she is dead (until later one in the game). In the 20s, her and her boyfriend were going to run away from Cincinnati together. However, the boyfriend wanted to stay in Cincinnati because he played baseball and didn't want to leave the team. He had promised her he'd meet her on the train, but actually doesn't show up because he was too much of a coward to break up with her. So essentially, she gets on this train for him but ends up dying because he's an asshole. The jacket she wears belonged to him, and she had no idea he was going to break up with her. Instead, she thinks he got into some kind of trouble and that's why he didn't make it to the train. She is sad because she thinks he might have died--little does she know it's the other way around!
- the train is stuck in a cycle that makes it travel from San Fran to Baltimore where it repeats the 1920s crash, and kills the passengers over and over
- the Raven Lever ("bird on the pole") is what the Protag has to pull in order to switch the train off of it's deadly track to Baltimore (where the original crash took place), and will redirect the train to Harlem (Harlem = Live / Baltimore = Die)
- A rich guy from the 1940s shuffles coal into the engine. His curiosity and hopes to make some money lead him to board the mysterious train. However, he was unable to get off, and ended up being killed in a replay accident. This made him stuck with the original victims of the 1920s crash. He is a mini-boss controlled by the Conductor.
- there is a jazz band in the bar/ restaurant (any ideas to build these characters more would be appreciated)
- at some point, the protag is forced to climb the top of some carts due to debris and damage within them that makes them impossible to pass otherwise
- Protag finds a tommy-gun in a mobster's luggage (the mobster becomes a mini-boss)
- "Roosevelt dime" is a trinket that the Protag has that belonged to the great grandpa, this item becomes the thing that makes the Fireman realize the Protag is his great grandson
JUST FOR FUN:
June 16, 1925, – Rockport, New Jersey (near Hackettstown). A seven car Lackawanna Railroad passenger train travelling to Hoboken, New Jersey encountered an obstruction on the tracks during a torrential rainstorm. The train was derailed and subsequently the engine boiler exploded scalding passengers. Two cars flipped over onto the locomotive, essentially cooking the passengers. Fifty persons were killed. [wikipedia]