Tuesday, October 21, 2008

RPG: Ideas for characters

I just put up the first of several rules heavy posts on Right Behind RPG. Basically, I'm putting up information needed to create a Mage character in GURPS Fourth Edition.

I currently have three player characters submitted. One more and I'll be able to start the game.

If prospective players are lacking inspiration for characters, here's a few concepts I wouldn't mind seeing as PCs, but will be set up as NPCs if I don't get them.

1) A Buck Williams analog. This can be either a mundane reporter (who unlike Buck actually files stories) with no idea that the supernatural existed until the Event, or a Union propaganda specialist with a cover identity as a reporter who is actively involved in the cover ups.
2) A charismatic religious leader, who may or may not be Awakened. This could either be a RTC nutbar a la Reverend McKinnon from the Celestial Chorus teaser, or some opposing religious leader who need not be Christian. Picture a Muslim claiming to be the 12th Imam (or merely paving the way for him), or a Buddhist claiming to be a reincarnated bodhisattva (The Dalai Lama isn't the only one). Heck, competing religious leaders is far more realistic than a proclamation of one world religion sticking because the AntiChrist said so.

I'd really like to see someone play a religious leader or two because I grew up in a decidedly non-religious household and I'm not sure I could write a religious figure convincingly. OTOH, LaJenkins are very much steeped in religious culture and they can't write religious figures convincingly so maybe I'm better off than I thought.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Right Behind RPG: Call for characters

I am ready to start working on characters for my Right Behind RPG. I've already got two PCs either complete or nearly so, and I'm looking for 2-10 more.

To the anonymous commenter who's never played in the World of Darkness, and anyone else in the same situation who wants to play: Just put together a 100 point GURPS character with up to 40 points in disadvantages (or one disadvantage worth 40 or more points) to play as a mundane who has no idea there's weird stuff in the world until a couple billion people just vanish. Hey, it gives an excuse for infodumps. 8)

WoD mages or Enlightened personnel should be built on 400 points with up to 100 points in disadvantages. I'll post some character creation notes later at Right Behind RPG. GURPS style mages, called "sorcerors" or "hedge magicians" in this game should be built on 250 points with up to 100 points in disadvantages.

I suspect that the LJ private message system is going to inadequate for actual character creation, so we can discuss the basic ideas there, but for actual character creation please use my Yahoo address: rh0adan@yahoo.com Note: If you want to use a spreadsheet to calculate point values, I have OpenOffice and can read Excel files. I've already got something I can use for the format if people want me to email it to them. Reminder, my LJ user name is inquisitiveravn.

Crossposted to Right Behind RPG.

Teaser 3: The Celestial Chorus

Ferrier, Haiti

Sister Teresa woke up in a cold sweat. The sense that something was terribly wrong would not leave her. She bolted from her bed, barely taking time to pull on a robe before exiting her room. In the hallway, she saw that her sister Singers had also gathered. She wasn't sure if she should be relieved or worried that others had sensed it. She decided to be worried.

"What is it?" asked Sister Jeanne, but nobody knew the answer. By common consent, they checked everyone else in the chapter house. Most of the nuns were not Singers, and they had not been disturbed. Pere Etien, another Singer, joined them. Once they had verified that everyone was fine, they debated what to do next. Pere Etien suggested that everyone pray for guidance.

As they prayed, Teresa got a sudden vision. "The children! Check the orphanage."

"Just the two of us," said the priest. "No reason to go charging in like a herd of elephants." The two of them rushed over to the orphanage where they split up. Teresa went to check on the girls and Pere Etien went to check on the boys. Teresa found an eerie scene, a room that should have held perhaps two dozen children held three. Her gasp woke the one of girls up.

The girl looked around woozily. Teresa realized that this was one of the older girls. Then the girl noticed the empty beds. "What's happening? Where is everyone?"

"I don't know," said Teresa, "I'm trying to discover that. Now, please, try to go back to sleep."

The girl shook her head. "I don't believe I can. Let me help look."

Teresa asked her "Who's still here?" The girl identified them as Claire and Helene, both among the older girls. She herself was Celeste.

Teresa and Celeste went looking for Pere Etien and found him confronting a scene much like that in the girls' room. Mostly empty beds, four boys, none of whom had woken. Teresa beckoned the priest out into the hall where she reported her findings. By common consent, they went to wake the custodians, who had a fit.

By the time, the custodians of the orphanage and the nuns from the chapter house got a search organized, word was starting to trickle in of other children missing. It wasn't until morning that they realized the full extent of the losses. Every child under ten was gone. So were many of the children between eleven and fifteen. The Evangelical missionaries who had set up shop in town had also vanished and promptly got blamed for the disappearances. An angry mob headed into the hills to search for them, despite the protests of the priest and the nuns.

The Singers all quietly agreed that whether or not the Evangelicals were responsible for the missing children, no one was likely to see any of them again. Whatever had woken them up in the night, had spirited away both missionaries and kids. All anyone could do was try to pick up the pieces. Eventually, it would occur to someone to look for clues in the missionaries' house.


Chicago, IL, USA

The home of Reverend Michael McKinnon

Reverend McKinnon knelt in his bedroom praying, pleading to know why he had not been found worthy. His wife and four children had been taken by the Lord, yet he remained. Hadn't he preached the Gospel to the unbelievers? Hadn't he smote the enemies of the Lord, the creatures of the night and worshippers of technology? Why then, in the wake of the Rapture was he still on Earth, while his family and flock were in Heaven?

After several hours of praying and fasting, the Archangel Michael came to him as he often came to the reverend in moments of doubt. The angel told him that he was indeed worthy but that the Lord had a special task for him. He was to go among the unbelievers and bring them into a new church, raising an army of the faithful to oppose the Antichrist.

Of course! It made perfect sense. The children were too young to bear such a burden and his wife, too weak, which was only to be expected from a woman after all. The others from the church who remained must be others chosen for this purpose or sinners unworthy of the Rapture. He'd have to determine who was who and bring the sinners to God. He'd start on his mission as soon as he broke his fast.


Chicago, IL, USA

The People's Church

Before stepping up to the pulpit, Reverend Jebediah Whitmore took a moment to pray for guidance. Then he took his place at the front of the congregation.

"Brothers and Sisters, we are here tonight in response to the greatest tragedy the world has ever known. My wife and I share your losses. Our two beloved children vanished along with every other child under the age of ten in the world.

"Now, you are no doubt wondering what happened. So is almost everyone else in the world. And let me tell you, it's the ones who aren't wondering that have me worried. That's because the ones who aren't wondering are sure they know the answer... and I'm just as sure that they're wrong. Y'see, the ones who think they know the answer believe that what happened was the Rapture; that God gathered up all his faithful to his bosom, leaving the rest of us sinners to suffer through seven years of Tribulation.

"I don't believe it, and I have my reasons not to believe it. So let me explain it to you now, and you tell me if what I'm saying makes more sense than the Rapture."

He enumerated his reasons for disbelief one at a time finishing with a scathing rant about how he knew the people of this congregation were good, caring people and they were still on Earth while most of the congregation of a local megachurch which he described as some of the worst hypocrites he'd ever known had vanished.

Having listed his reasons for not believing that what happened was truly the Rapture, he then went on to suggest that some other entity that he identified only as the Adversary was responsible for the recent disappearances and wanted them to look like this alleged Biblical prophecy. He finished by saying "We must not be fooled by this Deceiver and we must resist its efforts to destroy us, the fate of the world is at stake!" As he wound up his sermon, he flared his aura. Most of the congregation lacked the magical awareness to recognize what he was doing, but found his words oddly compelling. Most of them.

After the service, one of the exceptions approached him. "Jeb, are you nuts?" asked a young man in a black business suit. "If you're trying to get yourself raided, I can save you some time and make a phone call."

"Zacharia, what are you doing in Chicago?" asked the reverend. "Come on, I think we'd better talk in my office."

"I came to express my sympathies in person, and update you on the rest of the family." said Zacharia, as they headed to the reverend's office. Jebadiah's wife joined them en route "Rosa lost her baby; she's taking it hard. So are Mama and Papa. On the plus side, they aren't nagging me about my failure to give them grandkids." Zach ducked the swat Jeb aimed at him.

"Don't make light of your family's troubles boy."

"Hey, it's that or have a complete breakdown. You've got a psych degree, you should know that."

"Okay, point. Maybe I'm just taking things too seriously." They entered the pastor's office, and he automatically activated the wards. Then a possible problem occurred to him. "Uh, is your employer going to have a problem with you being incommunicado?"

Zacharia looked thoughtful for a moment. "Depends on how long. Fifteen minutes, probably not. Two hours, definitely. In between, well, the longer I'm out of touch, the more likely they'll be upset."

"I'll try to keep it short, then. Before I say anything else, can you give me your word of honor that your organization didn't instigate this mess?"

"No problem. My word on it. Not only did they not instigate it, they're in a full blown panic over it. I'll tell you though, the Chorus is high on their list of suspects." Zacharia looked apologetic. "I'm glad to hear that you didn't have anything to do with it, but what about this 'pack of hypocrites' you were talking about?"

Jebadiah sighed with relief then said, "A bunch of Pre-Milennialist crazies. I know the Chorus as a whole didn't instigate this, and I don't believe that any factions within the Chorus did, but I do think that one faction and its Sleeper followers, ah, enabled it so to speak. That is they didn't actually plan this, but they set up a belief structure that made it possible." He looked straight at Zacharia, "I also don't think that your bosses took that threat nearly seriously enough even after the Shrub years. I'd hoped that man's disastrous policies would've woken them up."

Zacharia raised his hands, "Don't look at me, cuz. I tried to tell them, but I'm just a lowly minion in the Payroll department."

"Right, well, now that they've had their noses rubbed in their mistakes, I'm just gonna have to try to explain the problem to them. I think you'd better make that phone call, but I've gotta go on a little shopping trip first," said Jebadiah.

"What? You really are nuts." Zacharia looked at his cousin's wife. "Jess, did you know he was gonna do this?"

Jess said, "Yep. We argued about it for the last two hours before the service."

The argument continued for several more minutes.

Crossposted to Right Behind RPG

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lead Thoughts and Lost Horizons, Part 2

"This will cost her her life you know," Big Nose stared hard through him.

"It's the truth."

"Then why did you desert?"

"I couldn't take it any more."

"You expect me to believe that?"

"I don't have much of a choice."

The door behind Big Nose opened. "Okay, Karl, I've seen enough."

It took a moment for Rob to focus. A new suit stood in the doorway. He carried himself with authority. Spook, probably. Former Ranger by the looks of it.

Big Nose nodded once. He picked up the DVD player and walked out of the room.

New Guy crossed the room and extended a hand. "Would you prefer your old name or your new?"

He stared at the hand in confusion. "I prefer Rob."

"Then come with me, Rob. We have a lot to talk about."

"How's...how's Dawn?"

"She's fine. For the record, I'm very sorry we had to do that to you. Now come on, up with you."

"Why was she crying?"

"She had just been told you might be executed for treason."


"Come on, then. Get up."

Rob took the offered hand and numbly followed New Guy out of the interrogation room. They walked down a long, white hall, then another, then a third, then took an elevator up several floors. Another hallway. A closed door. New Guy opened it. A locker room.

"There's a fresh set of fatigues. Clean up. Someone will bring you to my office when you're done. By the way, I'm Special Agent Smith."

"Of course you are."

Smith snorted. "I get that a lot."

Rob closed the door, peeled the gritty clothes he'd been wearing during his captivity off, stepped in to a shower stall and turned the water on. He stood in the flow and stared at the wall for a long time, dazed, on the verge of tears. He'd gotten sloppy, let someone in. Now he was caught and she was a knife at his throat.

No more. He'd get out of this somehow. He could run.

Newfound determination filled him. He cleaned up quickly, found the fresh clothing, and walked out of the locker room.

Hot One was waiting for him. She'd traded the tight skirt and fuck me pumps for a conservative pant suit that showed no cleavage. "Rob," she said, "Special Agent Smith wanted me to escort you. I should tell you that I'm Agent Cline."

"Um, hi."

"It's awkward, I know." She smiled, then started walking down the hall. He shrugged and followed. "By the way, she must be really special."




"I was starting to think it would take months to break you."

They took the same elevator up a few more floors and walked down another hallway to an office. "He's ready for you," Cline said, opening the door.

Rob walked through the door. Smith was seated behind a cluttered desk. He didn't even offer the pretense of rising. "Rob, please," he gestured to a chair across the desk, "Sit. Let's talk."

Rob took the offered chair. "About what?"

"I have a job for you, if you're willing to take it."

This was the last thing he'd expected. "You what?"

Smith leaned forward. "I'm sorry for all the shit we put you through, I really am. But these are desperate times and we have to do extraordinary things, up to and including working with people who a month ago we would have left to rot in Leavenworth."

"Like me."

"Like you." Smith sighed heavily. "I have a lot of friends in the regular Army and the Guard. I asked a few of them to keep an eye out for people who might be able to help me in my task. You have the skills and determination to do what we needed, but I couldn't afford to have someone who I couldn't trust working for me. And I certainly couldn't justify working with someone who left Delta Force to commit treasonous acts."

"So that interrogation was a job interview?"

"You could call it that."

"It's nice that you you think you can trust me and all, but I'm not really feeling I can trust you."

"I understand." Smith held up a thick folder. "This is your file." He began feeding pages in to a shredder next to the desk. "It's going away. You've got a clean slate and, I dare say, you can be Rob or you can be Alexander Simkins. Hell, you can be Alexander Graham Bell for all it matters. You're free. But your country needs you now."

"To do what?"

"To find people."

"And kill them?"

Smith shook his head emphatically. "Absolutely not. We need you to help people." He finished with the shredder and leaned across the desk. "I'll level with you. It's absolute chaos out there. We're not advertising it, but the armed forces of this nation are at just over 50% strength and maybe a quarter of their expected effectiveness. A lot of people have disappeared and a lot simply went AWOL. Militia groups and gangs have sprung up all over the place and are grinding the Guards down. We couldn't win a war right now if we wanted. Hell, we couldn't fight a war right now."

Something clicked in Rob's head. "So is that why the U.S. Ambassador suggested turning everything over to the U.N.?"

Smith stared at him for a moment, blinking silently. "Um, not exactly," he finally said. "In fact, no one is really sure why that happened. The Joint Chiefs are up in arms over it and word has it that the British Ambassador isn't welcome home any more after his move to support the motion. Quite frankly, as weak as we are, turning control over to the United Nations will only weaken us further."

"So have we recalled the ambassador and reversed course?"

The Special Agent rubbed his eyes and breathed heavily through his nose. "No," he said after a moment. "The President went in to a closed-door session with that Carpathia creep mad as hell and came back like they were the best of buddies. Congress is panicking and word has it that they'll either turn control over or declare war on the U.N."

"What's going to happen?"

"Well, that's where you come in. Some of our most vocal opponents of the United Nations disappeared. We know a few of them were part of The Event, but several others were out of the Capitol at the time and apparently away from witnesses. We need them. And we need someone to find them."

"Can I think about it?"

"Yes. But not for long."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lead Thoughts and Lost Horizons, Part 1

[Note: This is the next entry in "Answered Prayer."]

"I will ask one more time. And this time you will tell me the truth."

"That's what you said two times ago."

"No it isn't. I have never asked this question before."

"That's what you said last time."

The frown. When Black Hair frowned it was a good sign. It meant he was losing. He couldn't keep the questioning up forever.

"Did you or did you not consort with enemies of the United States of America after going AWOL from the Armed Services?"


"You disappoint me, Alexander." Black Hair stood. "Perhaps you'll be more talkative in the morning." He turned and left. When he closed the door he took the light with him.

Morning and night meant nothing in the inky blackness. He had no clock, no watch, but even though nearly two "weeks" had passed, it was probably closer to a day. A day of mind games, drugs, darkness, light. Child's play.

The trick was to keep the mind focused on something, anything. Preferably something that couldn't be used against him. A song.

There ain't no moral to this story at all
And anything I tell you very well may be a lie
I've been away from the living
I don't need to be forgiven
I'm just waiting for this coal black soul of mine
To come alive

Good, remember the words. The next chorus built on them. Remember the new words.


"Good morning, Alexander." The Hot One. She was good. Almost unfair, really, training a beautiful woman to be an interrogator. Like men had a chance in the first place, especially since she brought the light and one of those skirts that professional women with great calves wear when they want to show off. "Did you sleep well?"

Silence. Women hated that, at least to hear a dozen ex-girlfriends tell it.

Hot One leaned over, nice and close. Cleavage. Perfume. Damn. "I asked how you slept."



"My name's Rob, not Alexander." It was his game with her. Keep her off her toes.

"Ah, still on this, are we?" She stepped back. "Sergeant Alexander Simkins, formerly of Delta Force. Well, not officially, of course. I know who you are. And the United States does not take too kindly when members of its special forces just disappear one day. Would you care to guess what the punishment is?"

There ain't no moral to this story at all
And anything I tell you very well may be a lie
I've been away from the living
I don't need to be forgiven
I'm just waiting for this coal black,
Sun-cracked soul of mine
To come alive

"Don't care. My name's Rob."

Hot One leaned forward, her eyes softened. "Look, Alex, you seem like a good guy who did something stupid. I can help you. I can get you out of here. You just have to work with me." She dropped her voice, made it husky. "I might even be able to work with you."

This was a new one. He looked her up and down once, slowly, for the first time. He drew her scent in, let it linger in his nose.

"No." It was a challenge, but he had a weapon. He could beat her.

"Awww, Alex," she purred, "Are you sure?" Hot One leaned in close, her lips brushed his ear as she whispered, "You don't know what you're missing."

"You wish."

"Who is she?"


"C'mon, you've got to be head over heels to reject an offer like that. Who is she?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"I think you do."


"Maybe it's that girl who you were with when we found you."

"She means nothing." No, not Dawn.

"Dawn, I believe her name was," Hot One's voice dropped, sinister this time. "Maybe I'll just have to ask her a few questions." She walked to the door. "Tomorrow, then, Alexander."


He spent the "night" staring in to the empty blackness.

Light. Big Nose.

He placed a portable DVD player on the floor. "I'm sorry the volume doesn't seem to be working, Sergeant, but I thought you might want to see this." Big Nose pressed play. Dawn appeared on the little screen, across from Black Hair. Her hands were over her eyes. She was sobbing.

He took a deep breath, heart cracking inside like glass.

"We are sorry we had to do this, Sergeant. Had you been more cooperative we might not have had to." Big Nose pressed stop. "This was right after she found out what the penalties are for harboring a fugitive from justice and aiding and abetting a treasonous act."

His glass heart broke.

"She did nothing." He fought back tears.

"Tell me what I want to know."

"Will you let her go?"


"What do you want to know?"

"Have you or have you not ever committed a treasonous act against the United States of America?"

That same damn question. They didn't seem to want the truth, but the truth might cost Dawn her life. He stared at Big Nose.

There ain't no moral to this story at all
And anything I tell you you can bet will be a lie
I've been away from the living
I don't need to be forgiven
I'm just waiting for this coal black
Sun cracked
Numb inside soul of mine
To come alive