Triumphant return? We'll see. That old familiar writing itch has been troubling me and I'm interested in starting up one or two threads to scratch it.
In general I'm interested in science fiction, fantasy, historical and modern roleplaying opportunities.
Note, if I have indicated a system or specific setting in the title don't be deterred if you lack knowledge of said system or setting. I don't run systems in role play, and am extremely flexible in utilizing a setting for, at most, inspiration.
Available Recent Concepts
I. Giants in the Earth/Modern
The title is stolen from a beautiful novel by Ole Edvart Rolvaag about the lives and struggles of Norwegian immigrants as they settled on the Great Plains of the United States in the 1800’s. The setting is of a radically different time, modern day, but the location, a small farming community (Bellavue) in Iowa near the Mississippi, is similar, as is the central theme of immigration and generational estrangement. Here is the quick and dirty of it. An immigrant physician of Middle Eastern/Indian/Pakistani (your choice) origin his hired and relocates from a major metropolitan area (where he has raised his family, all American born, but in their ethnic community) to the small town. One of the children is a daughter, your character, a junior or senior in high school who has embraced her homeland, but still remains tethered by her parents to a heritage she doesn’t fully understand, or embrace, which is a constant source of tension with her parents. Her parents are doting and responsible, though they tend to be overly sheltering and protective further complicating the tension between them and their daughter.
Odds are that she is probably not thrilled moving from a major metropolitan area to a small town in Iowa. At the community high school however she’ll likely be shocked at how quickly she makes friends, after all, when your graduating class is 80, you have to be friendly with damned near everyone just to have a respectable social circle. This is also where she will meet my character, the young man from the wrong side of the tracks.
He has a story as alienating and complicating as hers. His father is brilliant, as in genius level, however he is also an abusive alcoholic and bi-polar to boot. He dropped out of school after his freshman year, but runs an auto shop on the outskirts of town and lends a hand on engineering projects at the nearby manufacturing plant and working on farms with his homegrown remedies for mechanical maladies. His father has been in and out of prison, often for violent, though not fatal, offenses. His mother was the town tramp, who married his father after she became pregnant and dropped out of high school herself. Years of marriage to his father and dealing with his alcoholism and bi-polar mood swings drove her to drug addiction and she passed away due to medical complications associated with a vicious meth addiction when he was 10.
Despite the calamity of the youth he has emerged as a comparatively healthy young man. He inherited his father’s intelligence, but tends to slack off enough in school that his grades do not accurately reflect his capability. He’s a star on the defensive side of the field in football, playing safety, but lacks the discipline to attract attention from scholarship offering schools. In a sense he’s adrift, eager not to replicate the failures of his parents, but at the same time dragged down by his family’s reputation that proceeds him in school and within the community as a whole.
So, the basic building blocks are there. Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, family matters complicate things. Where does it go from there? I’m wide open to ideas and suggestions.
A quick note, I don’t want this to devolve into some after school special on prejudice. I grew up in the suburbs, but had the opportunity to teach in a small Midwestern town’s high school and I have say that it was remarkably less segregated than the high school I attended. The kids genuinely got along, and I saw more interracial couples there in a school of 200 than I saw in a school of 2,500 where I graduated from. There is likely to be misunderstandings, but likely less malicious and more tentatively feeling out cultural differences and media assumptions.
II. Arming the Orient/Fantasy/Seventh Sea/Legend of the Five Rings
This is an extremely rough idea, so forgive the lack of details. Seventh Sea and Legend of the Five Rings were both produced by the same game developer. I’m not certain whether or not the intention was ever to have them exist within the same universe, but I’m rolling with it anyways as a crossover concept.
Contact has been made between the East and the West. The West has been engaged in extremely limited trade with the East as the massive wealth of Rokugan has attracted merchant companies like flies to honey. The heavy hand of the emperor and the clans, as well as a general distrust and disdain of outsiders, has prevented that trade from blossoming as it potentially could.
Rokugan merchants, resentful of the samurai’s interference in trade and the destruction wrought by years of turmoil and warfare has cast a keen eye on one of the most important items the Thean’s have brought with them, firearms. One peasant with a musket and a few months of training can easily take down a samurai warrior with years of experience under their belt. Just as gunpowder put an end to the dominance of the knight, and eventually the nobility itself in Europe, so to can the gun accomplish the same feat in Rokugan.
The merchants have begun to organize, enlisting aid from the peasantry and laboring classes, many of whom are embittered to the samurai after losing family and homes in the frequent conflicts. They are preparing to raise an army in secret.
The Vendel have been particularly keen on exploiting the burgeoning relationship. They are devising ways to smuggle in large quantities of arms to the merchants along with Eisen mercenaries to train them in their use. I envision the male protagonist being one of these gun runners. Opposite him are a number of potential alternatives ranging from a merchant herself of Rokugan descent, a courtesan or perhaps even a sympathetic samurai-ko. Like I said, the idea is extremely rough at this stage.
III. Rebellion Blues/Star Wars Updated Concept!
The time frame for this concept would be roughly between Episodes Five and Six. The Rebellion against the Empire is gaining momentum and leading to the fateful conflict above the second moon of Endor. While the focus of the movies is on the central conflict, between the relatively well armed main battle fleets of the Rebellion and the Empire, the focus on this story would be much lower key.
The Star Wars galaxy spans thousands of star systems, and a successful rebellion against the Empire would require multiple fronts spanning hundreds of systems. Rebellion Blues will focus on a frontier system that was recently settled over the past few hundred years. Comparatively poor the core worlds of the Empire, and therefore largely neglected by the Empire, the system will be but one of hundreds targeted by a Rebellion attempting to bleed the Empire dry by a thousand paper cuts.
Herein lies the catch though; the frontier star system prior to the advent of the Empire was a lawless, dangerous place. The Empire, though heavy handed and oppressive, has imposed a level of order that is appreciated by the common man in the system, and one that they would be loathe to see leave to give way to the chaos of a Rebellion that lacks the necessary infrastructure to maintain that order. Rebel agents will be active in the system, but will find their initial overtures spurned by most responsible civic leaders.
This will leave the rebellion to turn to the fringe of society; the scattered democracy advocates, the communists, the religious parties and other fringe groups that agree on little beyond the need to put an end to the imperial hegemony. Uniting these groups will require patience and diplomacy, and getting the necessary firepower will require brokering deals with the less savory denizens of the system; the smugglers, pirates and criminal elements.
This is the true backbone of the rebellion. Not the spectacular space battles fought between Star Destroyers and Mon Calamari cruisers, but the thousand paper cuts that stretched the Empire’s resources to their breaking point.
The Imperial presence in the system will be minimal. An aging Victory-II class star destroyer is the lone true capital ship presence in the system and it carries only half its complement in TIE fighters. Beyond that the planets each maintain several patrol corvettes and Tycon, the wealthiest planet in the system, boasts an aging Nebulon B Frigate. The Empire maintains a small garrison on each planet, with a full complement of Storm Troopers housed on the star destroyer providing a fast response team to provide support in cases of emergency.
The limited resources have encouraged the imperial forces and its officers to be more nimble and flexible than is typical. This is not the fool Empire that will charge headlong into Rebellion traps. My interest is in playing the Captain. An honorable man who fought in the Clone Wars as an ancillary troop supporting the main Republic Forces he naturally fell into Navy service following the war as the anti-Jedi propaganda and the need to reassert order overrode the reservations he held about the Emperor's rise to power. He is intelligent, resourceful and thoroughly disenchanted with overall Imperial policy though he believes that it has provided a necessary stabilizing force in the system and corrected the worst excesses of the planets where exploitation by Tycon of its neighbors made the Imperials a welcomed presence. While the Regional Governor has ultimate authority within the system (the follows the dissolution of the Senate in Episode IV), the Captain holds sole military authority and consequently is an effect counter balance to the rapacious impulses of the man.
The focus on this story would be on the emergent Rebellion in the star system. I will leave this open for discussion on what the preference would be. I do not want to shore horn anyone in as an activist, a rebellion agent, smuggler, etc. Let me know what you would like to play if the setting and concept interests you.
IV. The Sunshine Project (Mage: The Ascension/oWoD)
The title for this thread concept is taken from the political watchdog group for Illinois that monitors the state’s incessant corruption. I suppose when it comes to White Wolf’s old world of darkness setting I’m a bit of a queer duck in that over time, as I grew up, I found myself agreeing with, and responding to, the Technocracy and its goals. When I was younger the Traditions were the ‘cool’ faction, and of course, the original playable faction in the game. They were the punks of the magical world, sticking it to the man, and who doesn’t want to be that when they’re just another rebellious minded teenage. As I got older the Technocracy appealed to me because I saw the wisdom in a world where you don’t have to worry about your village randomly ending up in a dragon’s stomach.
Of course, the Technocracy has its flaws despite its noble founding principles. That’s what this concept focuses on. The foundation for the thread involves a member of the Syndicate, an economics professor, who is a bit of a black sheep in the organization (he is a staunch defender of the Austrian school of economic thought as opposed the Keynesians that dominate the Union) has become concerned with the signs of corruption that have infested the Special Projects division, and via that division, is spreading through the rest of the Union as well. To that end he begins to research and catalog the corruption, establishing firm patterns of behavior in the investment strategies encouraged by the Special Projects division, corrupted technology and theories that are emerging from their research and tying it to the growing corruption of the Union itself.
Over time as he uncovers more and more of the rot the Special Projects division begins to take notice of the files he is accessing, surmises his intention, and organizes to have him declared a traitor to the Technocracy and eliminated via a HIT Mark strike. Before he dies he sends a single message to his most trustworthy protégé, an economic historian brought into the Union by the professor, on the location of a duplicate copy of his research. The student obtains the research, and now finds himself on the run from the Special Projects division and their corrupt allies throughout the Union.
The story would pick up with him narrowly avoided a Hit Mark strike similar to the one that ended the life of his mentor with research in hand, and a small, poorly scrawled note listing potential contacts and allies that could help him process and disseminate the information. Here is where things open up; I’m not partial to who the female counterpart is in this thread. Is it a Virtual Adept that the professor knew he could trust, perhaps another former student. Perhaps even a Hermetic in academia? Is it a sympathetic member of the Union? I’ll leave that part wide open for my writing partner to create.
Obviously this will be an action heavy thread with a focus on character and narrative development as the companions try to make sense of the research and expose the corruption to sunlight.
V Kai Su Teknon?/Star Wars New!
This is a concept that I’ve been toying with in the back of my mind. It revolves around the immediate aftermath of Order 66 where the Clone Soldiers eliminated most Jedi save for a few that retreated into hiding only to be ruthlessly hunted down by Darth Vader, Starkiller and other Imperial agents. In this instance the Emperor, realizing just how difficult it would be to eliminate an order that has survived for thousands of years, developed a series of deceitful contingency plans that would enable multiple hunters to be quickly and effectively dispatched throughout the known universe to hunt down any that escaped Order 66.
Enter Jedi Hektor Baryon. Straddling the line between the Dark and Light side of the force he marked one of the greatest successes of a controversial, and top secret, training program that divided the Jedi Council with Yoda casting the deciding vote. Rather than a balanced approach to conflict his training focused upon the violent resolution of matters, with a focus on the elimination of singularly powerful targets. He was trained, in effect, to be a Jedi assassin. Though the Emperor’s manipulations he was sent on a series of secretive missions in rapid succession that kept him well outside the confines of the Republic and effectively cut off from communication with the council.
Over time the Emperor’s agents began to warp his perspective of the Jedi Council, filling mission briefs and general strategy updates with misinformation on Council schemes and conflict as they sought to undermine the authority of the Republic government. By the time Order 66 was enacted Hektor was convinced that the Jedi Council had betrayed the Republic and thus through years of deceit, manipulation and most importantly information control the Emperor had at his disposal an incredibly dangerous, yet oddly principled assassin to target those Jedi that escaped Order 66 and the efforts of Darth Vader.
The way of the Sith does not long accommodate fools that leave hanging threads unattended. The Emperor realizes that as Hektor continues to hunt down Jedi, some of whom may have once been respected and even mentored the Jedi, the chances increase that a mark will force Hektor to realize the truth of matters making an efficient tool a terrifying foe. To that end he has dispatched an intelligence agent under the pretense of acting as an liaison/guide for Hektor on his missions.
Deceit requires webs within webs, and not even the imperial agent is fully aware of the extent of the mission. They have been told that Hektor is a dangerously unstable asset, and that he may be converted by the treacherous Jedi. To that end for the greater good of the Republic if they suspect that Hektor is turned by the Jedi they are to eliminate him. To that end the agent has been given a syringe filled with nanomachines that will form a small explosive device at the base of Hektor’s skull upon injection, requiring only a trigger word to detonate.
How matters unfold will be a matter for the evolving narrative to determine. Does the agent begin to realize the truth of the Emperor’s deceit alongside Hektor? Does the agent remain loyal to the Emperor, or choose instead to ignore the increasing evidence and instead follow their orders in blind faith? I’m open to ideas, concepts, characters and anything else that furthers the above central concept.
VI. Atlantic City/Modern New!
“Everything dies baby, that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies, someday comes back
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
and meet me tonight in Atlantic City”
Suttree has never found a four-leaf clover in his life, not for lack of effort, but days spent scouring the clover patches that were abound in the backyard dilapidated family home he grew up in failed to turn up a single one. That lack of luck has defined his life. His mother was a fearful woman, and his father was an abusive alcoholic, a curse of the drink imprinted on his genetic code that haunts him to this day. Growing up he was a good athlete, but the ball never took that extra bounce in his favor, that spectacular play never unfolded, and someone was always more gifted, had a star that shone just a bit brighter. He was decent student, good enough to get into state school, but he always ended up getting beaten out for the scholarships that would have allowed for him to attend straight out of high school. Once he started community college a series of sudden layoffs at the manufacturing plant where he worked forced him into taking on a second shift to keep his job preventing him from taking the courses he signed up for. Every effort he seemed to take to improve his lot in life
He never found a four leaf clover, but he did find his wife, and if that’s the most luck his life ever blesses him with, he’d take it in a heartbeat. Together they had a child, a beautiful daughter, but there his luck turned sour again as she was born deaf. They managed to eke out an existence together, his wife staying home with the daughter, him routinely turning in doubles at the factory. It wasn’t a rich life, but they managed to carve out their own piece of happiness in Hammonton, NJ. Years down the road, when his daughter was nearing her seventh birthday life seemed to hand him a small turn of fortune as a new surgery, one that could correct his daughter’s deafness, was approved by the FDA. The surgery would have been covered by his insurance, and they were quick to try and schedule until his luck turned sour again and the factory closed throwing him out of work and terminating his health insurance.
That was five months ago and he hasn’t been able to chase down steady work since then. Their savings have dwindled down to practically nothing, and the promise he made his daughter, that she would have the surgery and be able to hear, is weighing as heavily on his heart as the overdue notices that line the mailbox every morning. In an act of desperation they are walking away from their home, packing up the family and moving to Atlantic City where an old friend of his believes he can set him up with a job at a warehouse. The pay isn’t great, but if it works out for him after a few month’s he’ll get insurance, and that’s all the motivation he needs.
This is where the story will pick up, when their luck runs out.
Clearly the story is inspired by the Bruce Springsteen song. Suttree’s luck is going to sour again, as it always does, and how can a man as unlucky as he has been survive in a city rejuvenated through the application of luck. Eventually the story will take a dark, desperate turn, and he’ll end up involved with the mob. How they get there is undefined, as is the role of the wife. I want my partner to define her, and together through the organic evolution of the story we’ll reach that breaking point. How desperate will they become? What will they be driven to?
Suttree is a complicated man, beaten down through a lifetime of bad turns. He drinks too much, but he’s never been violent to his family. He smokes too much, and it’s a habit he’s promised to kick for as long as he’s been married to his wife but one that he’s been unable to keep. He is deliriously in love with his family, and always tries to put them first in his life but somehow always gets swept up in mildly mischievous events that spin out of control. He’s spent more than a night in jail being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that record haunts him. Despite all his flaws, he is a decent man, and tries to do the right thing even when he fails.
VII. Numenera/Fantasy/Science Fiction
I don't have a specific plot in mind for this setting, yet. My book just came in via Amazon last week and I absolutely love what I've read regarding the setting. As always this would be free form. No system mechanics or gospel for the setting, just inspiration and concepts.
VIII. In Dreams/Changeling: The Dreaming (oWoD) New!
High King David, long may he reign, has fortified his holdings throughout the North American continent into the kingdom of Concordia. From sea to shining sea Changelings, their fae mien awakened through events wonderful or terrible, gather together to hold court. From the wisdom of the grumps to the hyper kinetic creativity of the Childlings each subset of the population brings its own unique perspective and challenges to live in the Dreaming.
When a Childling awakens it is a beautiful event. Closest to their true nature, unfettered by a lifetime of banality; they are the purest representation of the true nature that all Changeling’s have been severed from. Beautiful, and yet, complicated. It is not uncommon for Childlings, unable to balance their glamour filled double lives against the expectations of their parents, to be medicated or otherwise mishandled by well-meaning parents that are simply unable to cope with how their child’s runaway imagination not only prevents them from paying attention in school, but leads them into terrifying and dangerous situations.
In many cases Childlings are removed from their homes, liberated, as their Wildling and Grump protectors would refer to the matter, but therein lies the complication. The Dreaming coincides with, rather than supersedes, life as the bulk of humanity perceives matters. Young children living with teenagers and adults that are not their parents, and without formal adoption or even consent of their biological parents, is a legal nightmare that threatens to unravel the very basis of Concordia.
Enter Tor, under Royal Retainership by High King David. A Troll with a keen legal mind, he left behind a youth and young adulthood of grand adventure, where his mighty Ice Axe Hoarfrost struck terror in the hearts of mighty Dragons, and, at the behest of his King, enrolled in law school, graduating with honors, to provide the legal defense that Concordia desperately needed. A decade removed from graduation he maintains a small private practice, struggling to balance time commitments between a handful business clients that pay his bills, and the ever increasing demands of Concordia.
Each passing week it seems his grasp of the Dreaming fades. As of late it has not become uncommon for Tor to wake up disorientated and confused, with only vague memories of his more fanciful case load prompting the King to send out a knight to reawaken the Troll, (and interrupt his pursuit of more profitable cases). In his more lucid moments he faces the grim certainty that he is on the cusp of losing his connection to the Dreaming entirely, just one more fae fatality in the face of the encroaching demands of the modern world. Tor, the Troll, is on the verge of dying. Tor the man, who has put his life on hold in service of a kingdom he can barely recall, is struggling to justify how he can maintain such a hefty pro bono case load in one of the most expensive cities in America.
There is a melancholy theme to this story. Tor’s dreams are dying, and the powers that be solely seem interested in jump starting his connection to something wonderful to maintain the fragile empire that they’ve built. This is a story that touches all of our lives as we grow older and lose connection to the wonders of childhood, the endless fonts of creativity that sustained us for so much of our young lives, to better handle the challenges that our day to day lives present us with.
I’ll leave what happens wide open, to be dreamed of together by my co-writer.
IX. I, Coalition (Rifts) New!
Grigori Dubrovina was five when a dormant nexus point, one that an entire generation of settlers in his village were entirely unaware of, suddenly flared to life as a result of some entity manipulating one of the intersecting ley lines dozens of miles away. The nexus yawned open just long enough to deposit a horrific, tentacle monstrosity from some unholy dimension. With no warning the beast ripped through his village, consuming screaming men, women and children that it eagerly stuffed into its multiple, gaping orifices, until a flight of SAMAS that was on routine patrol engaged the creature. The end result was three lost SAMAS suits and pilots, four with varying degrees of damage, and a handful of orphans, cast into the well by desperate parents, the sole survivors of the encounter.
Grigori and the other children were recovered by a Chi-Town convoy that was diverted to search for any human survivors. They were brought to an orphanage located in the Chi-Town burbs where Grigori, who already demonstrated an aptitude for reading and mathematics, was educated and raised until he was old enough to enlist in the Coalition military. His aptitude scores won him immediate placement in Special Forces training, which was his goal and suited his temperament. Grigori had no stomach for the random search and seizures that he had seen carried out in the outskirts of the ‘Burbs, where random D-Bees were rounded up and summarily executed by Coalition Grunts. His intention was for something more surgical, more purposeful and more directed towards the actual enemies of what was left of humanity.
Grigori has a complicated relationship with the Coalition. More so than most he understands how delicate a precipice mankind is balancing upon, and is firm in his belief that the Coalition, and its allies in the NGR, are the best remaining hope for humanity. The sight of a flight of SAMAS power suits to this day calms his nerves after a trying day. They represent hope that there will be a tomorrow. He has difficulty reconciling the duality of the Coalition’s role as humanity’s savior with its barbaric slaughter of every dimensional being that falls within its crosshairs, however. His village was home to D-Bees. He understands that most are not here by their choice.
What I am envisioning for Grigori is a high risk mission deep within Tolkeen, Lazlo, Federation or even Atlantean territory. Grigori’s squad will be ambushed, picked apart, leaving him desperate, alone, but as always resourceful and cunning. Where the story goes from there I will leave to collaboration with a writing partner.
Available Older Concepts
This is for anyone familiar with the Iron Kingdoms universe published by Privateer Press. For those not aware, it's an eclectic mix of steampunk, fantasy and mecha.
The setting would be in the Protectorate of Menoth, at a non-canon location. The status of the Menite nation as a protectorate caught my eye, as it is implied in the canon materials that the territory was still theoretically under the military protection of Cygnar up until open war broke out. Protection requires money, and it would be a hard sell to have the Cygnar citizenry foot the bill for a group of religious 'fanatics' that have already shed Cygnar blood in the past.
So, I envision a special tax on salt moved from salt mines in the southeast to the larger cities located in the northwest of the nation. The design of the the taxing system would be very similar to the tax that the British imposed on India during its colonial occupation. Mimicking the British system a "Great Hedge" will have been built dividing the nation in half with tax posts established every ten miles.
The setting would be at the headquarters post, located on the outskirts of a midsized town that sprouted up due to proximity to a freshwater spring and the one major thoroughfare that runs through the Protectorate. Naturally the posts are despised by the locals, but, as is typical a small segment of the population will have set up shop living and working in the shadow of the fortress providing basic services (trades, shops, inns, prostitution, etc.) to the contingent of troops stationed at the base.
The timing would be roughly a year before all hell breaks loose, with tensions rising between Cygnar and the Protectorate and the base becoming a lightening rod for the rising animosity. Themes to be explored will be religion, cultural differences, conflict in standards of law and morality, tension between the military and the local population, tension between the "service population" and the general population, going "native", how to enforce laws with limited authority, etc. Ultimately this will lead to the base being attacked and destroyed at the onset of the conflict between the two powers.
I had initially devised the idea as a novel I was going to write and submit to PP, but between work and a newborn I just haven't had time, so I figure why let a good idea go to waste. I'm not sure whether this will be a one on one or if I will move this to a group session.
Please forgive the sketchy nature of this idea. Like I said, I hope to develop it further in the near future.
II. Soldiers of Misfortune/Fantasy (Seventh Sea)
Castille has been locked into a bitter fight for its very existence with its neighbor to the North, Montaigne. As the war enters into the year of 1668, Montaigne has taken a full third of Castille’s territory, much of that the most fertile farmland in all of Thea. Vicious fighting, a technological edge and even excommunication by the Church have done little more than slow down the relentless Montaigne advance. With a dispossessed noble class flooding the capital the boy-king, thrust into his position by the untimely demise of his parents and the mysterious loss of his older brother, now struggles to hold together a kingdom tottering on the abyss of chaos. He’s made one last ditch effort to pull victory from the jaws of defeat, and hired the Silver Fox.
The Silver Fox was one of the most brilliant generals in the War of the Cross. A steadfast defender of the Church, he orchestrated many of the most stunning advances, and retreats, of the war, often with much smaller and ill-equipped forces. When the impossible reared its head, he was tapped time and time again Now, in the wake of the conflict, he has struggled to come to terms with the destruction rendered through his ruinous efforts. The chance to defend the Church again, this time from godless Montaigne, may be the opportunity he needs to save himself from divine punishment for the hell on earth he brought to his homeland. He brings with him a powerful contingent of veteran Eisen troops, the promise of tomorrow, and the Iron Wolf to Castille.
The Iron Wolf was the Silver Fox’s protégé. He emerged from the academy a promising young officer, and a decade of service in the War of the Cross sharpened him to a razors edge. In that service he was asked to lead a small contingent of 100 men deep into Reformation holdings, to bring war to the home front and cut off supply lines. For over a year his men carved out a path of terror and destruction to cities and villages alike, leaving behind a nightmare landscape of salted fields and rotting bodies. The Iron Wolf became like a demon in folklore, some dark prince of Hell unleashed to torment mankind. The process so scarred the man that he fractured, mentally, into two separate personalities; the Iron Wolf, an engine of destruction that mercilessly follows the orders of the Silver Fox, and Johannes Bismarck, the capable and haunted military officer employed by the same. It has been several years since the Iron Wolf has been called upon.
Much of the nobility is not pleased by the King’s decision. They see the Eisen mercenaries as usurpers, taking away valued leadership positions held by their families for generations. They may be the kingdom’s last hope, provided that courtly intrigue doesn’t sink the relationship before they have the opportunity to test their tactics and steel against Montaigne.
There are several paths that can be taken here. Your character could be a Castilian noblewoman, perhaps from one of the families that objected to the presence of the Eisens. Alternatively, your character could be a Montaigne noble woman/sorcerer working as a double agent for Castille, feeding them information that will lead to the assault and capture of the first major victory in the conflict, a powerful fort that protects one of the major rivers that will provide logistical support as they begin to push Montaigne back across the border.
As always, I’m open to suggestions. Please PM me if interested.
III. Aπάθεια/Inspired by Kult
Aπάθεια (Apatheia) is a concept emerging from the Stoic school of philosophy. Loosely, it is a state of mind where a soul is free of emotional disturbances, the highest ideal, perhaps beyond achievement, of Stoicism. We cannot control that which is caused by others, or by nature, rather, we can only control ourselves and Aπάθεια represented the pinnacle of that self-control.
The setting is Chicago circa the late 1980’s. This is prior to Chicago’s downtown renaissance that birthed the dichotomy of abject poverty found in much of the city’s residential neighborhoods and the extravagant wealth and gentrification of the central business district and select communities on the north sides of the city. In this Chicago the projects are still running full tilt with dreams of tearing them down and dispersing the rot that had taken hold of them to the four winds years down the road. This Chicago is pure decay.
Sergeant Gary Lannon has been with the police department for over a decade. He works narcotics in the precinct that includes amongst its troubled holdings the Robert Taylor Homes. Sharp as a tack he has spurned offers to take on a higher position within the department due to his reluctance to be removed from where he felt that he could do the best work, on patrol. He is beaten and weathered, prone to fits of heavy drinking that have lined his face and cost him a marriage entered into by a far younger and more naïve man. More so than many of his fellow officers he keeps the horrors of his experience day to day bottled up, driven deep down inside where they have been allowed to fester and grow into a great cancerous psychological wound that may never heal.
On the verge of breaking he is radioed to the Robert Taylor Homes in the early afternoon by an alarmed mother who has not heard from her daughter in several days and wants the police to perform an apartment check. He knows the daughter well; she was one of his ‘problem children’ growing up, but in recent years after having several children seemed to have begun putting her life back into a semblance of order. She’d even held a steady job for the better part of a year. When he entered the apartment he found her dead on the floor of the living room having overdosed on crack, and all three of her children drowned and laying peacefully at the bottom of the full bathtub. Something snapped.
Reality is beginning to fray on the edges, giving him glimpses of a second, darker world beneath the skin of the consensus. It comes in flashes: an alleyway that yawns open and reveals the twisted rebar and dilapidated structures of a hidden world, the strangely lecherous grin of a parish priest whose eyes turn an unholy shade of black when his congregation isn’t looking.
Later, one night he is called in on a drug bust at the Robert Taylor Homes. As they make their way through the campus, dodging cinderblocks thrown by random residents more than nine stories up he becomes separated from the other offices and forced down the ‘rabbit hole’ of an alleyway. He emerges onto the other side to a twisted and warped landscape, filled with half-collapsed buildings and hoards of feral creatures like emaciated humans only with sewn eyes and long, grasping claws.
Has he found a rip in the veil and stumbled upon a greater truth, or has he lost his mind to the throes of madness? The interaction with the other character could vary. She could find herself lost as well in this twisted realm. Or is it a shared delusion? Perhaps she is a long time resident of the projects, a whore made Madonna by his skewed vision that holds power and sway amidst the decay.
I love in Kult the concept of madness and its relationship to how we perceive reality. I wanted to play with this concept and its varied levels of perception in the story. The blind and feral hordes, the dilapidated buildings, all of these are shadows of what normal people see day to day, only here made into very visceral metaphors to reflect the madness and destruction of poverty. He is an outsider to this and must blindly try to make his way through the madness to come to a great realization of what entropic forces have hobbled the world he finds himself in and define himself as separate and apart from them and in doing so may free himself to come back to our world armed with the knowledge gained.
I. You Owned a What!?!? Lilias I’ve been looking over my thread ideas, and realized that they tend to trend very heavily on the dramatic side. I have a battered mutant struggling to heal, a psychic trying to escape from CIA custody, a lost soul running a bookstore, a lost soul ghost and a mature couple trying to reconnect and rekindle a long lost, childhood romance. Perhaps it’s time for a slightly lighter fair. Call this my ‘dramedy’ offer.
Enter Chase, a straight laced accountant in his late 20’s. His father, a right asshole as far as he can remember, left his mother when she was young, but she performed admirably in raising him to be a responsible, well educated, and reasonable young man. He studied hard, got excellent grades in school, took the right internships and got a great job at a Fortune 500 firm. He dotes on his mother, helps old ladies cross the streets, and yes, has an Eagle Scout merit badge. Bottom line: if there is a right thing to be done, he’s probably done it one better.
Driven, logical and resourceful, he’s succeeded in every venture he’s applied himself to; except for the one venture he hasn’t been able to allocate his limited resources to, love. For now though, he mistakes complacency for contentment, works hard, and comes home at night to fire up his Xbox for a round of merry ‘fragging’ with good friends now committed to the four corners of the States via the Diaspora that was their now distant graduation. Until he receives notice, via a letter from his father’s attorney, that he passed away and left him everything.
What is everything? A sizable savings, ample stock holdings and a privately owned business venture of ill-repute that has built up a small fortune, or, in more common terms, a brothel. Legal and in the middle of the desert, outside of Reno, NV, The Cheerful Chipmunk Ranch has become established as one of the finest dens of sin in the state. He’s analyzed his father’s poorly kept records, and now must weight the profit of the venture against his knee jerk reaction to promptly shut the place down.
So, he’s on a plane to Reno, to check his deceased father’s operation and make a final decision on its fate. The rest I’ll leave wide open. This could be as light hearted as The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, or as serious as you want. I’m flexible. I just think it’s a fun concept.
II. Mind Games Midnight Diamond I recently watched Firestarter, and the premise, a covert government agency attempting to cultivate and study psionic abilities in unsuspecting citizens intrigued me. Playing with the concept I’m interested in something that fits roughly into the framework outlined below:
The MK-ULTRA program, run by the CIA since the 1960’s, investigated and attempted to develop mind control techniques suitable both for interrogation of cold war spies and population control practices. To this end they employed highly questionable procedures and experimentation, including the application of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD to unsuspecting volunteers (and a completely innocent pubic, particularly nefarious was their abuse of blackmailed “closeted” homosexuals). This field of study was believed to have been discontinued following illuminating investigation by a congressional committee.
Rather than being discontinued, per this universe, the MK-ULTRA program was discontinued not because of congressional attention, but because the researchers had stumbled upon something far more potent and interesting. Through the administration of a new hallucinogen, RT-57, first administered in a double blind test in 1983 to volunteer psychology undergraduates at Georgetown University, a small percentage of the volunteers (less than 1%), began to develop “abilities”. Initially dismissed as a byproduct of their hallucinations, after careful study in a controlled environment it was revealed that the drug had unlocked a cultural inhibition that prevented all but the insane from taping into a wellspring of psionic ability.
Careful study revealed the presence of a “node” of brain tissue located beneath the frontal lobe that was present only in the students with abilities. Students fell into categories: pyrokinetics, cyrokinetics, telekinetics, biokinesis. While latest telepathy was common to all students regardless of their manifestation, it was largely limited to detecting “moods” from people in their immediate surroundings, and certainly not the vaunted mind reading and mind control more common to science fiction novels. The rigorous application of brain scans, culled from every scan performed across the country, produced a regular stream of fresh blood into the program that, operating out of a secret, underground laboratory/training grounds at Georgetown, began churning out carefully trained operatives for the CIA.
Then came Test Subject 1437. Taken in at the age of 16, he underwent routine exposure to RT-47, but failed to develop in any of the typical categories outlined above. Much to their disappointment, the researchers were prepared to accept the first outright failure to develop psionic potential, until the subject repeated, verbatim, every thought the head researcher was thinking during his exit physical. Telepathy, and, through training, mind control, had finally been discovered.
As quickly as the joy came, it faded as realization of the absolute danger posed by the psion became apparent. He could read minds like a book, and with but a thought could stop a heart, force a suicide, or jump start a thermonuclear Armageddon. Test Subject 1437, also known as Robert, has now been kept under lock and key by the CIA for two years. Kept under control on a steady diet of depressants and inhibitors, he is only allowed out of his perpetual stupor to read the minds of visiting dignitaries during critical situations, or so the CIA has been led to believe. Test Subject 1437 managed to skip a single administration of the drugs seven months ago, and through guile and the subtle application of his abilities has cleaned out his system and is eager to escape.
And this is where it opens up. Robert wants out, and has been observing operating procedures for the past seven months to carefully cultivate his plans. The involved character could be a scientist, CIA operative or a fellow psion (perhaps a second discovered telepath). I want to keep this open to any desired input. As I stated before, this concept is highly mutable.
III. A Life Less Ordinary/Modern Absinthe Tori Young, bored, frustrated and without direction in life; it’s an apt label for many in their early to mid twenties, but it bit him particularly hard. A college dropout despite a very promising academic career, he has settled in Chicago, working at a small, locally owned used bookstore that specializes in rare prints.
His life has become a clockwork device, beautifully intricate and spooled together by thousands of blood vessels and millions of interlocking cells, but stymied into performing a single, monotonous routine. He works the afternoon/evening shift, exercises, sleeps, wakes up, reads and repeats the process. He lives without purpose, without an eye to the future; only to become obsessed with the present as he fiendishly works to catalog the grim and gritty details of each passing moment with a keen intellect now forced against the whet stone of the present in the absence of a tomorrow.
Something needs to break him out of the rut, a rude karmic slap upside the head that shakes him free of the clouds that he has allowed to obscure his vision and set him once more on a path, any path at all. For this, I will need a female volunteer to help cultivate a story of cautious but emergent romance, one that spans the changing of the seasons from a winter that matches the stasis of his soul to the awakening of spring and the unbridled passion of summer. To the same effect, a female character that is loud and exuberant, a polar opposite of the librarian’s existence he leads today, would be greatly preferred. Suggested occupations range from college student/part time stripper (actually how I envisioned the original story when I planned to develop it solely on my own) to artist to athlete. The only bricks and mortar I demand are the ones I have already set in the above paragraphs. In other words, I’m open to all sorts of variations and ideas.
If interested, please PM me.
IV. Your Wildest Dreams/Modern Ravensahnk I was listening to the above song title, by the Moody Blues, when inspiration struck for the potential plot line. To me, the song paints a vivid portrait of nostalgic yearnings; the kind we all have from time to time, as we think back to that first crush/love and what might have been, and what that person is doing right now. The plot line follows that same line of thought.
I picture the scenario unfolding thusly: a man and woman, best friends when they were children, grew into early high school sweethearts, until one of the two had to move long-distance away. Pledges were made to never lose touch, but, as those who have moved can attest, the best laid plans of mice and men…
Fast forward twenty five years into the future. Both adults, around 40 years of age, they’ve moved on in their lives, perhaps had families, perhaps not, but in moments of loneliness or remembrance, ask the same question, “I wonder if you care. I wonder if you still remember.” Then, in a rare chance, perhaps while both attending a conference, or on unrelated but coterminous business trips, they bump into each other. Imagine the excitement as they bump into not only one of the best friends they have ever had, but their very first love!
I’m not interested in an adulterous storyline; I want this to be something more, pure. How puppy love matures with time and fond remembrances. My vision for my character is someone who was once married, but lost his wife to cancer nearly a decade ago and never felt comfortable remarrying, or reentering the dating pool for that matter.
So, the above represents a general framework for what I think is an intriguing concept. What would it be like if you ran into the person that your mind flits to, from time to time, as you stare out of your window in a moment of isolation on a cool fall day, and think back to a fondly remembered past?
V. Cry Havoc/Science Fiction Elunari It’s the year 2432. Mankind has escaped his earthly confines and has spread out amongst the stars aggressively establishing colonies in distant systems with advanced terraforming techniques. In time colonies grew and became nations themselves with established alliances and unions. While humanity may have outgrown earth, they have not outgrown war.
The narrative would focus on a strike team, a force of marines that is being sent to a terrorist controlled planet to wage a guerilla campaign in the hopes that the population will be encouraged to rise up as well. The resources appear to be extremely limited. A single cruiser and two dozen platoons have been sent. These are not the marines of the modern era however; equipped with powerful powered armor each soldier is as powerfully armed as dozens of his modern equivalent.
Each platoon is assigned to a drop ship when they are first formed. That same ship and pilot are, unless causalities determine otherwise, designated as part of the platoon for as long as they serve. Freshly minted platoons are often coupled with recently trained pilots, allowing them to mature and intensively train together to become a tightly wound team. This has led to a family structure for most platoons with the Lt. of the platoon referred to as ‘father’ and the drop ship pilot, most of whom are female for reasons to be discussed below, being designated as ‘mother’. Despite the close relationship between the marines and their pilot, it is rare for them to interact personally outside of training. Most marines have never seen their pilot in person. As always, this protocol is intentional to prevent an already intense relationship from becoming distracting.
Piloting is no longer a function of inadequate manual controls and human limitations. Pilots, suspended in a protective and reactive gel casing, are linked directly to their respective ship allowing for instantaneous response times and a bodily awareness that stretches as far as the vessel’s sensors allow. It was determined after extensive psychological profiling that women were more receptive to the role of piloting drop ships and capital ships. The sensation of the personnel in the holds of the ships was described by women as familiar and maternal, as though hey were pregnant. Male pilots often described the sensation as alien and distracting, and this, combined with their increased propensity for insane risk taking, has made them perfect fighter pilots.
The focus of the story would be on the relationship between the Lt. and the pilot. Though they have never seen each other out of respect for military protocols, they have established an extremely close and personal bond over the years that they have worked together. Indeed, the platoon often refers to ‘Mom and Dad are having another fight’ when the two bicker over drop and extraction points.
So, what happens when the drop ship is blown out of the sky on a hostile planet? Do the separation protocols work? Or does the Lt. risk mission and men alike to save his ‘wife’?
VI. I and Thou/Modern Remy Life was good for Martin. He had an excellent job working as a currency trader in Chicago, a young and beautiful wife, a young son and second child on the way. They owned a small but charming house in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, a fixer-upper more on the fixer than the upper half of the equation, but one that he was diligently renovating on the weekends and with vacation time when he could fit it into his busy schedule.
An old and faulty furnace, a unit that he had planned on replacing when time allowed, finally fell off its last leg early one morning after he had already left for work (currency trading typically takes place during “off” hours depending on the currency traded), spewing carbon monoxide into the partially finished basement. The detector had been taken off the ceiling while he was starting to install an acoustical grid in the unfinished portion of the basement and he had forgotten to reinstall it. His wife and son were having a “camp-out” in a small pup tent in the finished portion of the basement. They never woke up.
Devastated, he turned inward after the funeral and took a prolonged grief-absence from work. In that time he rededicated himself to finishing the house and in a month’s time had completed the renovations and, to the shock of family and friends alike, immediately placed the home on the market complete with furnishings. The home was priced to sell and moved quickly. He pocketed the proceeds from the sale and the following weekday quietly walked into his manager’s office and posted his notice, effective immediately.
He bought a hybrid SUV for carrying capacity and fuel efficiency, a brand new laptop, a new SLRS camera and a lifetime’s worth of pens and notepads. He packed the SUV with his belongings, kissed his parents goodbye, and then hit the road down along Route 34 out from the city.
He now follows the historic roadway as it winds through the heart of Illinois back to his alma mater; a small Midwestern liberal arts college. As he travels he is stopping in each small, rural town along the way spending several weeks at a cheap hotel and meticulously recording conversations with the people who live there, combing through historical records, taking photographs and generally constructing a story for each town from its inception to its modern day inhabitants. With each stop he makes new friends and further fleshes out the hefty compendium of each town, weaving a story about each living, breathing collective entity that he plans to publish one day.
He lost himself when he lost his family, and with that loss he forgot how to truly connect with the world. So now he searches for and hopes to find it in towns long forgotten by the mainstream. He is a wandering soul, trapped in an “I-It” relationship with the world hoping that the next stop, the next connection that he makes will bring him back to “I-Thou”. For now he writes about these small towns, learning about them and yet conversely disconnected from them as he fails to look beyond himself. This has kept him detached from the communities he learns so much about; perversely making him an outsider that is eager to be taken in by those he meets but unwilling to accept.
Where does this leave a story? I’d imagine that the counterpart for the tale could be a resident of such a town. She could be the anchor that he’s been searching for that overwhelms his guilt and fear and allows him to truly connect with the outside world again.
VII. Wraith: The Oblivion Naiayur This idea is loosely tied to White Wolf’s Wraith setting and would be free form in nature.
The setting would be Chicago, December of 2008. The story would focus on the aftermath of a car accident involving a young attorney, his wife and two children. The cause of the accident was negligence on his part. As a typical law firm associate he had been putting in regular 16 hour work days, seven days a week over the past two years, a classic workaholic. The combination of exhaustion, stress and an ill-timed check of his blackberry led to him running a red-light onto Dearborn where is car is annihilated by a truck. All four family members perish in the wreck. An overwhelming sense of guilt (for family neglect, he’s deliriously not aware yet that they perished), brought him screaming across the Shroud and into his caul.
Active role play (after initial, introductory storytelling) would pick up several week after the accident as the wife’s twin sister, a wild child who recently moved back in with her parents, moves into the couple’s condo to begin packing things up to liquidate their assets. She angrily harbors resentment for the man she believes (rightly) is responsible for the deaths of her sister, niece and nephew. The attorney, haunting his condo is still disorientated and deliriously convinced that his family is still alive and mistakes her for his wife.
The central themes of the story will be guilt, sorrow and, depending on how events play out, acceptance and reconciliation.
VIII. Let it Go Lilias Yes, this is, in part, inspired by a recent viewing of Frozen. Deep down inside of me there is a thirteen-year-old girl desperately trying to claw her way to the surface. Yes, I do have almost the entire soundtrack for Anastasia on my iPhone, and yes, I do listen to it when I work out…..Now that I have that confession out of the way this is also inspired by an aborted thread that I had started years ago with Maeven called Out of the Darkness. The pairing of a persecuted mystic with a hardened champion is an intoxicating one.
I’m interested in resurrecting The Hound, a character I had developed years ago for that I applied to Out of Darkness. Molded since birth by the church, a powerful organization that wields political as well as spiritual power, to be a tool. Not a champion, champions are celebrated. He is a tool, designed to operate in darkness and fear, taking care of the dirty work that plagues the faith lest the holy father’s hands become tainted by the filth. Intelligent, educated and dangerous, he is as loyal as a dog, no matter how many times he is struck by his master.
The territories of the faithful are lands under siege. A global cooling has resulted in stunted harvests, spreading famine and its companion, dread disease, across the known world. To the North barbarians that truck in dark sorceries, summoning fell creatures from across the abyss, raid and pillage along the borders. Within the kingdom scheming nobles and corrupted church officials alike scheme and manipulate, at times erupting into brief but bloody warfare between the provinces.
Magic is at once an accepted part of the world, and yet shunned by the faithful. Part of this fear is practical; centuries of attacks by the barbarous tribes to the North and the twisted creatures that they summon have tainted perceptions of magic. Those born with the gift are persecuted, many are burned at the stake, still others are imprisoned by the church (who employs them in the manufacture of ‘holy’ relics).
Opposite The Hound would be your character. Able to tap into magic she possesses some quality that is desired by the church. The Hound has been sent to retrieve her. Can she convince him to slip his master’s leash?
IX. Fear and Trembling/Modern (Changeling: The Lost) Yggdrasil Contrary to what some may believe, there are still parts of America where mystery still clings to the land. Southern Illinois, also known as Little Egypt, is a land of endless fields and dark foreboding forests. The nights are darker than what is experienced closer to big cities, and miles of unlit roads are all that connects small, struggling towns of hundreds to each other. The people are friendlier here, but at night, you make certain your windows are locked, and the curtains are drawn as humanity’s innate fear of the dark unknown, primal and free of its fluorescent constraints, urges caution.
De Soto, a small town of 1,700 twenty miles West of Carbondale, captures the very essence of where the rural Midwest kisses the Dirty South. Sharing more in common with the people of rural Missouri and Arkansas than Chicago and its suburbs, it’s a town of small, decrepit housing, rusted out classic automobiles and an economy that boasts one stop sign, a small restaurant/pie shop, a gas station, and four strip clubs to its name thanks to a ban in Carbondale. There is something raw and unsanitary about the town, a stark honesty to the glitz and glamour to the North, that seems to define it with a rich vibrancy all its own. It’s the kind of place where old dreams die hard.
Changeling the Lost is about those old dreams. Nightmares that we would rather forget that force their way kicking and screaming into our world, and, much to the horror of its prisoners, sometimes drag us back through the mists of time and space. De Soto is the kind of place where old gods can walk the land and rekindle myth with little fear of cameras exposing them to the masses. A place where Grandfather Thunder could still whip up a sudden and terrifyingly powerful thunderstorm, the kind that are summoned up from thin air and roll dark and menacing to pound relentless winds and rain on tin roofs.
He was one of Grandfather Thunder’s Stormcrows, plucked from the mortal coil and made beak and talons to carry his will in each stroke of lightning that crackled down from the heavens. He counted his years in split and smoldering tree trunks, burnt out houses and burst electrical transformers. Time beyond that visceral count had long lost meaning. He could have been twenty, or he could have been a hundred.
Then one day