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05 May 2014 @ 06:51 pm
The Summer Empire: Character Creation  
My to my delight, softlykarou is taking one of the random RPG ideas I come up with, work on feverishly for a while, and then eventually peter out on when I realize that it's probably never going to get used and I'm the only one who will ever see it. That's not quite true here, because softlykarou did run a one-on-one game using this thread basically as written.

My innovation was that I thought "airships are cool. Floating islands are cool. That thread is cool. What happens if I combine them all?" and then add a bunch of inspiration from Blue Rose, the Fall from Heaven mod, Vampire Hunter D, plus bits of Xenogears and the Elder Scrolls games, mix together and stir. A setting recently freed from the iron grip of the vampiric Nobility but learning that democracy and freedom are easier than overthrowing tyranny. A setting with revitalized by the invention of the airship and the easy wave of exploration it enables. A setting of bickering nations, Noble pirates (note caps), watching werewolf tribes, rogue spirits, ancient ruins, vanished civilizations, conflict, trade, strange magic, and glorious adventure and opportunity.

Then, I had no opportunities to play it, so I set it aside and didn't work on it for a year until recently. Yesterday we met for character creation, with the premise that we're the crew of an airship looking for new sources of profit, and this is what we've come up with so far:

  • Petrichor, one of the winged People of the Air, who was plucked from his gang of street kids due to his affinity with air magic and conscripted into a special military program to create supersoldiers. He had killed his first man before he turned 16, but eventually left the service and took his magical talents freelance. He signed up with the ship as the weather-witch, to keep the air currents good and for his battle talents. Taciturn and stoic, he spends much of his time on the edge of the ship, staring off into the sky.

  • "Counselor" Bartelby Marklay, the nominal owner and financier of the ship, who may be a representative of the Patrian Trade Council doing on-site supervision of their latest exploratory venture or may have an empty storefront in The Capital and some hastily-filed business papers as the sole parts of the company that aren't on the airship. After a string of failed business ventures, he hit on airship trade and exploring the floating islands as a way to make money, but it's a constant struggle between the need to spend money to make money and his desire to hold on to as much money as possible. Also the ship's main negotiator, since he's a polyglot and well-connected.

  • Mara, who comes from a family of folk healers and midwives in the small oasis towns of the desert land of Malak. Unsatisfied with her future as another member of the clan, she arranged an education in a city medical academy and is currently out on fieldwork. She signed on as the ship's doctor to provide her transport and give her plenty of access to new medicinal compounds, plants, and techniques she can use to expand her education. Trained as a thaumaturgic Healer, she's also interested in finding more broadly-applicable medical discoveries that don't require a thaumaturge to be nearby to be applied.

  • And my character, Autumn Oak, a druid from the wooded fastness of Alfheim who's signed on as the ship's shaman to keep the peace both with rogue spirits and with the ship-spirit. The part I've worked out since we met, inspired partly by the song in the "Listening to" section, partly by Shepherd Book, and partly by taking the Longevity merit, is that Autumn Oak used to be named Waning Moon and was a rebel commander in the insurrection against the Nobility, but ended up wiping out several villages of noncombatants due to worries about Noble sleeper agents and mind control after a number of skirmishes against his forces. He earned the name "The Butcher of Hearthglen" for his actions, and after the war he resigned his commission, refused employment anywhere else, and vanished into the forest to live as a hermit for a while.

I didn't want to be all hard men making hard choices, but I figured that in a world where powers like Dominate and Majesty exist, there's a reasonable argument to be made that anyone who's been alone with a Noble isn't entirely trustworthy ever again. At least, the kind that people in that situation would find reasonable. Whether his fellows would think he was a war criminal or someone forced into it by the horrors of war, he wasn't okay with it. We'll see where that goes during the game.

softlykarou also used a trick from a while ago that I picked up from somewhere (sadly, I forget where). At the beginning of the game, each player gets a sheet with five categories--Combat, Mystery, Intrigue, Romanticism, and Exploration--and has to divide 100 points into them to show how much they want each of those themes to be focused on. All of us had Mystery, Exploration, or both among the top two, which makes it pretty easy to imagine the game. It'll be Firefly with an airship and floating islands instead of planets.

I'm excited!
 
 
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