Run at Scoundrel Camp 2010. A game of depression and misery, that ended with a rather fiery cataclysm. It went quite well, and the gamewriters are very satisfied. Everyone cried, which was the point.
"Gran, tell us a story!" "Yeah, c'mon Gran'ma!" Rose smiled at the trio of wide-eyed children sitting around her chair. "Shouldn't you kids be off washing up or cooking or such?" They had come running into her room over the tavern, covered in dust and a little scratched up, clearly fresh out of the woods. The eldest, six-year-old Maxine, shook her head. "Nuh-uh. Mam's at work again, so we dun' have much to do." "Hrm. Oh, alright, I'll tell you a story." Rose laughed as the children grinned with excitement. "Settle down, settle down. Here, I'll tell you a story about a man named Jon Farshield." "Whozat?" Kaya, the youngest, asked. Maxine elbowed her sister. "Hush up and Gran'ma Rose will tell us!" Rose leaned back in her chair, and began, still smiling. "Jon Farshield was the most amazing man I ever met. He was a hero, in the truest sense of the word. He traveled far across the lands, from Alharma to the Ka'tiga Islands." "Did he ever come to Tedoch?" asked Darian, the middle child. "Just once. He and his friends passed through on their way East, and ate in this very tavern!" Rose tapped on the arm of her old wicker chair and leaned towards the children, whispering conspiratorially. "He may have even sat in this very chair!" They all let out appropriately awed breaths, and Rose continued. "He didn't stay long, though. He was on a quest, you see." "A quest!" Kaya jumped up in excitement, but Maxine grabbed the hem of her dress and pulled her back to the floor. "Wot was the quest for?" asked Darian. "The most important quest of all," Rose said quietly. "Jon Farshield was going to kill the Emperor." Maxine wrinkled her nose. "That's silly." "Yeah," said Darian, frowning. "Everyone knows you can't kill the Emperor." The smile began to fade from Rose's face. "Well, this was before he was the Emperor... he was just a warlord, in those days." "What happened to him?" asked Maxine. "He was killed," came a voice from the doorway. "Along with everyone who traveled with him." Erick, the bartender and owner, was leaning against the doorframe, idly cleaning a glass with a dishrag. Darian frowned. "Why'd he die?" "Because he was a fool," Erick said calmly. "And he was destroyed, just like every other fool that tries to oppose the Emperor." He waved his dishrag at the children. "Now you kids run along and find someone else to bother." The three children obediently got up and ran for the door. Kaya paused just outside, on the top stair, and looked back at Rose, but Rose gestured for the girl to follow her siblings. "You shouldn't fill their minds with such junk, Rose," Erick said, once they were alone. "It isn't junk," Rose replied bitterly. "It's hope." She tried to stir up a defiant spark to fill her eyes, but the most she could muster was a sort of wistful sorrow. "Hope?" Erick scoffed. "Hope for what? Look around you." He pointed out the window, at the rest of the town outside. "The world has changed." "What do you know of hope, Erick? What do you know of the world? You were just a babe when the Emperor came to power. You never even knew a life of freedom, of happiness." "And I never will." Rose didn't have anything to say to that. "But you know what?" Erick continued. "It's still a life. Life has gone on, Rose, and it has gone on without you. It's time you caught up to the rest of the world or left it behind." He turned his back and started down the stairs, pausing halfway down to turn and call back. "And come downstairs soon. Need you to start cooking. Foreman Jones has been working everyone extra hard today--word on the street is there's an Inspector coming 'round soon." Rose was barely listening. She slowly got up from her chair and walked to the window, looking out over Tedoch. Not far away was the cold square building of the heart of the town, its chimneys belching columns of black smoke. She could hear the distant ringing of the bell signaling the stop of the workday, which meant in a few minutes she'd have dozens of factory workers downstairs clamoring for a meal. When she was little, she had watched the sunsets from this window. Now the sun was gone, hidden away behind the black smoke. Rose turned away from the window, not wanting to watch the bitter end of yet another day of life in a factory town.
Several years ago, the world was poised on the edge of darkness. Crops were failing, strange creatures were emerging from the forests, and the lights of civilization were becoming fewer and further between. Minor lords were overthrown, only to be replaced by rulers more corrupt than the last. Life became hard for everyone. Brother betrayed brother. It was an axe-age, a sword-age. A wind-age, a wolf-age.
This all seemed to begin to pass when a new ruler took the throne, a man known to you as the Emperor. It was well known that he was a dark and twisted man, and that he took the throne through treachery. It seemed that he had no care for the troubles of his people, only for shoring up the boundaries of his land. To that end, he created a new military unit called the Emperor’s Guard, a vicious and brutal gang of thugs. Something needed to be done. A voice needed to rise out of the darkness to call the light together, to make a final stand for good in the world, against the Emperor. A hero arose, a man called Jon Farshield.
Jon Farshield was viciously murdered by a full battalion of the Emperor’s Guard. All of his friends were killed, as was everyone who happened to be in the tavern he was staying in at the time. The tavern itself was burned down, incinerating all of the corpses inside.
The following week, the Emperor announced his plans to take over the known world, which he proceeded to do handily. He then moved onto the neighboring realms of Heaven, Hell, and Faerie. The Emperor even captured the gods themselves, along with the most powerful faeries and demons.
This is the way it is, and there is no longer even a glimmer of hope that the world could be returned to the way it was. There is no going back. But life goes on.
The world has adapted to living under a dark overlord. People make money however they can. Those who had charitable hearts before have woken up from their pleasant dreams to face a harsh reality. But life goes on.
The magic that filled the lives of the lucky few has been dampened and thinned out by the Emperor’s dark cloud. But life goes on.
Even the once-devout clerical orders have given up mourning the death of the Gods. But life goes on.
No matter what. Life goes on.
The world as it was known was divided into four realms. There was the realm of Earth, populated by the physically weak but intelligent humans. There was the realm of Heaven, populated by the gods and their divine messengers, the angels. There was the realm of Hell, populated by demons and fire spirits that punished the wicked and planed endless plans against the gods. Then there was the realm of Faerie, populated by the inscrutable Fair Folk. There were many entrances to Faerie set across the land. It could have been reached across old bridges, through doors set in trees, by stepping through mirrors that had been left out in the light of the moon, and by many other passages. Heaven and Hell were much harder to enter. To gain entry to Heaven, the gods must have deemed you worthy. Only rarely did the gods love a certain human enough to lift him bodily into Heaven, but it did happen. Those humans served as the companions and servants of the gods. Hell could have been entered one of two ways. The legends said that a certain craggy rift in the ground far to the north may have gained one passage, but no one ever returned from such a journey. The second was to lead such a horrid life of crime and terror that one of the elder demons had no choice but to send up a giant flaming claw and tear you away from Earth.
As it is now, the terrible magicks of the all-powerful Emperor have bound the worlds of Earth, Heaven, and Hell together into one realm, and the realm of Faerie is completely destroyed. The doorways to Faerie still exist, but they lead to the burned and twisted ruins of the once-beautiful Arcadia. If one travels far enough to the North, one will eventually find oneself traveling through the blighted lands of Hell. If one travels far enough to the South, one will eventually find oneself wandering through the scattered pillars and broken domes of Heaven. Criminals and brigands have gathered there and spend their time killing each other; at least, when they don’t have any visitors.
Once, the worlds were full of magic. It was potent and omnipresent and wild. It was certainly not easy to use, but it suffused almost every aspect of life. Powerful maegi exerted their wills and reshaped the laws of nature, bending vast energies to their whims. People teleported across the land to visit their families, wounds were healed casually, plagues staved off, famines averted, and so on.
The Emperor is a very smart man. One of the first things he did upon taking the throne was round up the most powerful maegi in the land. He forced them to do an immense working for him, in which they locked away all of magic. Now, only those with a special license given personally by the Emperor may tap into magic. Many things that were once beautiful have now faded, and many things that were powerful are now gone. Magic still exists in pale flickers here and there, but it is mainly in the form of people with strangely good luck, or fortune-tellers whose cards are usually right. If you are exceptionally lucky, you might come across a real potion on the black market somewhere.
The Sight Potion Recently, a new kind of potion has been popping up here and there, sold in back alleyways and on the black market. It's said that taking a sip (and a sip is the biggest size of vial you can get) allows you to temporarily access real magic, and gives you a vision of the future. Some people claim it's addictive, or has negative effects on your health... but it's magic. It's worth it. There's a local fellow, kind of shady, lives on the edge of town, but if you want Sight, he's your guy. ... in actuality, the Sight Potions are being produced locally, by Cold Henry himself, using magic he's been siphoning off of the Bound God in secret. This is why productivity and output from the factory have been low, which is in turn why the Inspector has come to town. The Potions don't really give you magic--they just give you a brief but powerful hallucination, with maybe a bit of temporal distortion mixed in. In game, each vial will have a note slipped inside. The notes will be information about characters and their plans, veiled references to the fiery ending of game, vague fortune-cookie-like references to the future, or just straight-up lies.
Races of the WorldEdit
Racial Integration Before the Emperor, there were four Worlds. Heaven, Hell, Earth, and Faery. Each was a separate realm, with its separate denizens. There were ways to cross from one world to another, and there was some cross-traffic from time to time, but for the most part they remained divided. Now... now there is only the Empire. Angels, Demons, Fay, and humans all live together, somewhat integrated. It has been twenty years, but there are still considerable racial tensions. In a town like Tedoch, though, no one particularly cares. As long as they pull their weight at the factory, the status of their horns or wings isn't a particularly big deal.
For as long as there has been light in the worlds, the Angels have stood on high, as guardians of order and justice. They meted out swift fiery vengeance, they appeared in blinding blazes of glory, and generally did all the things one would expect from an Angel. They were the Gods' first line of defense, their champions and footsoldiers, when needed. But then the Emperor came, and brought Heaven down to Earth. The Gods were bound and defeated, the Angelic Host was disbanded. Most of the Angels were killed, but some surrendered. Those that did had their wings cut off, to remove any magic they may have once contained. Those fallen angels are extremely bitter, but still tend to hold to their violent and strict natures. They are scattered throughout the land, here and there, serving as bodyguards, mercenaries, gladiators, or whatever else will allow them to shed blood in the name of their twisted vision of "justice."
You used to be great. Your people used to build towers to great heights amongst the sulfur clouds, and construct deep pits within the hard volcanic rock of your homeland. When you hit magma, you would rejoice for a night, but would return to work the following morning. You used to do good work. Who but you would punish the sinners of the world? Who but you would take that mighty task upon their shoulders? And yes, they all feared you, and yes, they all despised you. But you used to have a role, a place in the universe.
Then, The Emperor came.
He informed you that he had conquered the world of humans, and thus, your services were no longer required. There would be no judgment but the Emperor’s, no punishment but the Emperor’s. He gave you a choice: join him, or perish forever. Many of your people chose the latter, but by definition, the ones still alive are the ones who chose to knuckle under and live in the new, unified world.
===The Fay=== The Fay used to dwell in the land of Faery, also called Arcadia or Nod or any number of other names. It was a land that only the Fay themselves could easily navigate. More so than any of the other realms, Faery used to riddled through with magic. Sometimes it would obey predictable laws, and sometimes, it would be wild and chaotic. It was, in short, similar to the temperament of its’ residents.
When the Emperor came, he gave the Fay an ultimatum: live within the Empire I am creating, or die. The Fay, for the most part, ignored him. When the Emperor started killing Fay as examples, most of the others didn’t react. In truth, they didn’t understand what was going on.
So he continued.
He burned down their homes, toppled their towers, and burned their children. He wreaked such havoc on the land of Arcadia that even to this day, dangerous magic flows through the land, and fires still burn.
The Fay who remain are no longer so innocent. They are still obsessed with the idea of debt and contract, but they understand death now, too. They know that they are no longer the smartest and most powerful in their land, but they still long for their old power.
You all live in the town of Tedoch. It’s difficult to determine exactly where in the Empire anything is anymore, what with the rarity of maps, but you suppose it’s somewhere in the middle. There are several notable features in the town, and you probably have a strong connection to at least one of them.
The Shipping Lines are the main reason Tedoch was built in the first place. Two major shipping lines, one going from the southeast to the northwest and the other going from the southwest to the northeast, cross in the center of town. Of course, there’s not much shipping going on these days, so the old businesses that used to thrive on it (for example, the town inn) are struggling. Many of the owners of these businesses have taken second jobs to make ends meet, some of them somewhat less savory. Many of them have started working in...
The Factory. The factory produces weapons that are then sent out to the Emperor’s armies. Most of you work in the factory, in addition to holding down another job. It pays well. At least, more than anywhere else. It’s very strenuous, difficult work, but it’s hard to survive in the town and not work there. The place is filled with heavy machinery and old, unused rooms and cobwebs. Sometimes, moaning can be heard in the corridors, coming from nowhere. Sometimes, small objects go missing, only to be found in the most unlikely of places. Sometimes, people go missing, and are never heard from again.
The Fighting Pits are on the edge of town. They’re technically illegal, but they’re the only entertainment left. Many of the “gladiators” are just normal townsfolk who want to make some extra cash, but some of them are skilled warriors who have decided not to join the Emperor’s Guard for whatever reason. You know that someone runs the gladiator pits, to the extent that you know they wouldn’t work if someone weren’t. Beyond that, you have no idea what keeps it all working.
The Lonely Crow, the town inn, is basically just a bar these days. Very few people ever check in, except for those who pass out drunk here and are thrown into one of the old, musty beds. The manager, who is also the barkeep, is a man named Erick. He makes a good bartender because he doesn’t talk very much. His wife, however, does.
So there you have it. The town of Tedoch, a dreary, sad town in the middle of a dark Empire. You wake up every day knowing that nothing is going to change, ever. The Emperor reigned over you since you were born, and he reigned over your father, and your father’s father. There is no last glimmer of hope. There is no candle in the darkness. But life goes on.
Factory Workers Most folk in Tedoch are just fairly normal Factory workers. Men and women (and often their children, once they hit the age of about twelve) all go straight to work. Of course, there's all manner of family drama between them. Petty rivalries, hidden romances, debts owed, and so on. There is particular tension between the demonic Factory Overseer and the handful of fallen Angels who work in the Factory.
===The Bureaucracy === No good system works without middlemen, and this is no different. There are a half-dozen members of the bureaucracy within the city, who oversee the factory, make sure everything goes according to regulations, and so on. They have spent the last week scrambling desperately to make sure everything is perfectly in order, in preparation for the inspection. It's their jobs (and very probably their lives) that are on the line if anything goes wrong. Most of them are extremely corrupt--some are on Cold Henry's payroll, most extort and tax the bejebus out of the locals, and none would hesitate to hire the Guild of Silence to get rid of any potential problems. They are all competing violently with each other as well, as each wants to be the one to make the very best impression on the Inspector, as a recommendation from him would give them a huge push towards a promotion--maybe even to a big city.
===The Guild of Silence === Jon Farshield's best friend was a reformed thief, a woman known only as Lynx. After Jon's death, though, she quickly returned to her old ways, and used the contacts she'd made along their journey to create an organization of thieves and assassins called the Guild of Silence. The Guild operates out of view of public society, and its members tend to have double lives, masquerading as productive members of their city during the day, then vanishing into the night on assignment. As in most cities, there is a small local branch of the Guild of Silence. They've recently received a larger number of contracts than usual.
Right on the edge of town, there is an old abandoned building from some failed enterprise. The fighting pits are located in and around it. On certain nights, brawls and melees take place between contracted fighters and local stock. There is much betting, and much drinking. Several people have won a lot of money here. This tends to overshadow the fact that many people have lost a lot of money here, and all have lost some. In the end, the fighting pits turn quite a profit for Cold Henry, the Fay who runs them. All of the fighters, except for those who choose to fight for fun or profit, owe Cold Henry a debt of some kind. There are some very strange competitors here, including angels, demons, and the occasional crossbreed.
What Actually HappenedEdit
Jonah Vergen, the Out-of-Towner, was a rival of Cold Henry's. He ran a much larger mafia, and Cold Henry was starting to edge in on his business. Cold Henry, you see, was behind the production of the local Sight Potions, made by siphoning magic from the Factory Furnace. ... the Factory Furnace was a God of Fire, bound by the Emperor.
Jonah Vergen hired the Guild of Silence to assassinate the Inspector. They did so. The Emperor found out, and was extremely upset. He possessed the God of Fire, and conscripted a number of the souls of the dead to be his voice. They marched into the town center, and read an Imperial Edict. The Emperor used the last of the magic of the dying god to wipe the town off of the map. Almost everyone died in the enusing fireball.
Cold Henry himself escaped, in addition to a handful of townsfolk, having fled town long in advance of the Inspector's death.
(These folk all work in or around the factory during the day, on top of whatever their night job might be.)
- Foreman Doakeg Jones - John Dermony
- Semilla, Angel Mother - Chiara Harrison Lambe
- Sera, Junkie Angel - Ruby Lavin
- Marissa Smith, Pickpocket - Makaela
- Tate Smith, Repentant Boyfriend - David Gottsegen
- Sebastian Smith - Zachary Pesner
- Elizabeta Scordata - Samantha Strauss
- Federick Bering - Anil Kelso
- Jackson Bering - Chris Miller
- Briget Scordata - Eleni
- Cleary Scordata - Jud Packard
- Darien Troy, New Arrival — Wiley Gorn
- Tornin Casta, Hopeful Youth - Evan Paller
- Jonathan Hastings, Idealistic Orphan - Corey Dale-Miller
- Jess Casta, Single Mother - Dorothy Cosentino
- Sylvester Emanual - Re Character Rowan Crowley
- Taerya Emanual - Re Character Trine Boode-Peterson
- Miandra Zane, Exiled Intellectual - Re Character Summer Sorge
- Lee Zane, Cheating Husband - Re Character Jeremy Cook-Williams
- Doradella Thraid, Shameless Hussy - Re Character
The Guild of SilenceEdit
- Lynx, Thief Queen — Genevieve Casagrande
- Salia, Master Thief - Lizzy Neiman
- Abidon - Michael Conroy
- Noa Koros, Hired Killer - Andy Brown
- Daye Koros, Professional - Caleb Fricke
- Isaiah Barjana, Guild Contact - Aidan Garrity
- Tyr, Conflicted Bodyguard - James Lavin
- Renard Duncan, Apprentice Informant - Finn Hall
- Carmino, Humbled Man - Ryan Thomas
- Leor Windblade, Broken Hero - Reed Peck-Kriss
- Zariah, Lost Angel - Will Duffield
- Little Max, Fae Brute - David Rubenstein
- Azna'gol Vau, Ka'tiga Exile - Jeremy Cook-Williams
- Lucas Dietzel, Determined Youth - Jonah Ury
- Laramie Dietzel, Determined Youth - Eli Goings
- Robin Goodfellow, Witless Fay - Josiah Mercer
- Samuel Bellings, Amnesiac Warrior - Ryan Simpson
- Gideon Horn, Retiring Mercenary - Matt Wright
- Daniel Bellings, Mercenary Legacy - Sam Dickson
- Alexei Stover, Mercenary Survivor - Teague Stover
- Janessa Graves, Stressed Mayor - Kellyn Bardeen
- Lee Moran, Rising Bureaucrat - Ben Raften
- Kon Perric, Jealous Bureaucrat - Skyler Osherow
- Remington Guycott, Judicial Executive - Eamon Burdick
- Tairvin - Tom Gordanier
- Verkaen - Adam Coatsworth
- Dayroak - Arthur Whelan
- Restern - Brian Rubenstein
- Kaedina - Sophie Danish-Brown
- Ryxaen - Rio Sperling
- Ryta - Isabel Spearance
- Aldegonda - Isabelle Louge
- Eri'Kat Le, Elder Shaman - Rachel Sprague
- Aman'tolo Le, Sharesoul Thief - Jason Kleban
- Ara'sima Ta, Scout - Nick Hamilton
- Endo'lon Ta, Experimental Scout - Zed Lucienne
- Est'fan Ta, Cartographer - Trevor Volpe
- Ema'nan To, Adventurous Teen - Lily Rosenthal
- Elis'tof Lo, Jilted Friend - Iris Colan
- Aomon'som Vau, Defender - Eli Sorich
- Eyim'yan Vau, Defender - Summer Sorge
- Alit'sor Vo, Teen Psion - Alex Lawson
The Emperor's AgentsEdit
- The Thorn King — Roo
- Vrayko, Pyromancer - Sean Keefe
- Malina Nauka, Hybrid Healer - Becca U-D
- Ilenna, Demon Hunter - Sam Zierler
- Doctor John, Mad Mentalist - Dylan McLaughlin
- Bram Turnbull, Master Psion - Caleb Gleason
- Lord Commander Roland Valerian - Shane Hennessey
- Jensen Padalius, Eager Cadet - Eli Gleason
- Jared Padalius, Overeager Cadet - Zack Tashman
The Inspector & co.Edit
- Inspector Datanne - Dylan Scott
- Judas Pilgrim, Inspector's Secretary - Will Cooper
- Marta, Inspector's Apprentice - Julia Sub
- Veno, Inspector's Apprentice - Jules Robins
- Keiran Nauka, Runic Scientist - Jonathan Polin
- Saycrus Nauka, Created Bodyguard - Clay Matthewman
- Joshua, Traumatized Teleporter - Peter Frisch
- Cold Henry/Rocket Ship - Michael Joseph Grant, V
- Gregory Harkness - Alex Gruber
- The Out-of-Towner - Griffin Simpson
- Lindsay Dietzel, Sight Salesman - Jacob Perlman
- Sweet Elizabeth - Taylor Fisher
- Horus, Stoic Golem - Josh Culbertson