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  1. #71
    The Replicant
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    I believe that at this time they are busy with a Heist.

    Although there are other reasons why I have not included them as yet, such as a lack of decent plot ideas on my part, and (having just read Dak’s new character sheets) feeling that a badass assassin and an angry psyker might be stepping on Sarna and Alyss’ toes a bit.
    Spoiler: My RP links 

    PM me for novelised versions of any of my RPs, or ones that I have participated in. Set by the awesome Karma.


  2. #72
    The Replicant
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    THE SHADOW WALKERS

    Technically, the above title refers to the entire Night Lords 17th company - my personal band of evil, time-displaced super-soldiers, who used to tear up our local 40K games on a semi-regular basis. However, what I’m actually going to write about today is the two of them who have featured in other stories, and so have something resembling a personality: Kira Loque and Azazeal.

    Yes, he is a reference to the same character as is featured in my username and avatar. In fact, his entire squad are named after Hex characters (the various fallen angels, specifically)

    Featured In: Hearts of Darkness, Ampoliros Adrift (thread no longer available; PM for copy), Heist (pending)

    Az and Kira’s first step towards characterhood came when I decided to give the 17th a showing in the 40K spin-off game Inquisitor. Because many 40K-equivalent characters are hilariously overpowered in that game (space marines, for example, literally break the game system) I thought the best way to dial it back would be to feature the characters earlier in their careers. So Azazeal the chaos marine became Azazeal the aspiring recruit, Kira the primaris psyker became Kira the psyker-in-training, and Dregor the obliterator became Dregor the tech-priest with an obsession with the obliterator virus. Their justification for being out in the field was simple - thrown far into the future, the 17th needed information, supplies and recruits, and those recruits needed to be tested to determine their worth. Their human auxiliaries could kill two birds with one stone, being subtle and devious in a way that regular space marines aren’t normally qualified for.

    Sadly, I didn’t write up my Inquisitor campaign featuring them in the same way I did for the two featuring my Eldar rangers. However, it made me want to write about them, and soon enough they started appearing in RPs. Hearts of Darkness was a test run, and as time went on I found myself focusing more on Az and Kira, with Dregor and their space marine handler Comorant taking more of a support role. After Ampoliros, however, there was a long period where I set them aside. As I noted in a previous post, this was partly to do with a lack of suitable plots, but it was also because I was struggling to fully visualise the characters. As I gained more experience in writing, I wanted to move away from the teenage staple of “characters who do cool stuff” and towards “characters who are cool in themselves”. Developing Az and Kira beyond their basic premises proved surprisingly difficult, even after re-reading all their old material.

    Luckily, PaintSerf was around to provide inspiration and motivation with an upcoming RP concept called Heist, which is shaping up to be 40K’s answer to Ocean’s 11. I eventually went back to basics and thought about Az and Kira’s childhood, rather than them simply leaping into existence as young adults with a bit of occasionally-referenced backstory. Az managed to manipulate his way to the top of a feral tribe before the Night Lords arrived and picked him - how? Clearly, he is both charismatic and has absolutely no compunctions about screwing with other people. A competent fighter yes, but above all a manipulative bastard who is making plans to kill everyone he meets. Kira got stuck with an incredibly obvious psychic familiar in a society that rounds up all psychics to be either trained or killed. Clearly, she’ll have had to go into hiding in some way. Even worse, her planet has a significant mutant underclass that she’s been taught all her life to hate, and what is a psychic but a form of mutant? How does she come to terms with that? How does her own family feel about all this? Kira’s story quickly became both desperately sad and almost an allegory for an LGBT+ person coming out to an unsupportive family.

    Anyway, I finally feel confident enough to write them some actual character profiles, so here you go.

    Trivia: The Azazeal reference was previously even more blatant, as his appearance was modelled on Michael Fassbender. But since he’s already busy playing Danny Hawke, I switched to James McAvoy, who has portrayed enough cheerfully manic and dangerous characters (Filth, Split, Atomic Blonde...) to be a good inspiration.

    Spoiler: Az’s profile 


    Spoiler: Kira’s profile 
    Last edited by Azazeal849; 03-23-2021 at 02:52 PM.
    Spoiler: My RP links 

    PM me for novelised versions of any of my RPs, or ones that I have participated in. Set by the awesome Karma.


  3. #73
    The Replicant
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    VACUUM CROWS

    Mechs. They don’t make much sense, scientifically speaking, but they are awesome. I have kicked about a few half-formed ideas previously, most recently a pilot for the IMS (the bad guys in Titanfall), but since Dakkagor is now threatening to launch a new mech-based RP I should probably step up.

    While my profile for the pilot(s) is still under construction, pending more details on the story universe, I did have a fairly clear idea for what kind of mech I wanted to field. Since I’m trusting other players to bring the heavy hitters, I decided to create a kind of support mech that is essentially a futuristic AEWAC platform. Hopefully it will fit in with what Dak has planned, and no doubt there will be edits to this post to follow!

    The guide I used to construct this mech was Vietmyke’s impressively detailed homebrew system from the RP Falling Skies, which can be found here.

    Spoiler: Pilot 

    Spoiler: Mech 
    Last edited by Azazeal849; 02-26-2019 at 01:28 PM.
    Spoiler: My RP links 

    PM me for novelised versions of any of my RPs, or ones that I have participated in. Set by the awesome Karma.


  4. #74
    The Replicant
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    READING THE RUNES

    So I’ve been thinking for a while now that Runes has been my most challenging project, and now that it’s finished I wanted to unpack some of the learning points from this. For those that are reading it, feel free to leave comments - I love feedback.

    Before anything else, I want to thank all the site members who took part in the project: Kris, Scottie, Kiro Akira, Splat, Price, Derpnaster, Minkasha, Underblank and Katrina. Additional thanks go to Minkasha (for plot help and ready-made excuses to have more Leveler scenes) and Scottie (for subplot ideas, character insights and the occasional pointing out of logical progressions that I had missed). And I also want to add that despite Runes being “challenging”, I have very much enjoyed writing it with you all.

    So where did it all start? It’s usual for me to have two or three unwritten RP ideas rattling around in my head at any given time - sometimes fully pre-plotted sequels to whatever I’m currently writing, sometimes half-baked concepts that never really get developed. Often, they come from a book, film or game I’ve just experienced that makes me want to write something similar. For example, the basic premise of Eclipsis came to me after watching Event Horizon, and the Replicants were inspired by the CGI remake of Captain Scarlet, which I watched a couple of episodes of because I’m a neeeeeerd.

    The foundation for Runes came out of replaying Myth: The Fallen Lords, a dark fantasy game in which the living struggle against the twisted shades of their world’s greatest heroes. The concept didn’t go anywhere for a long time, because I’ve always been more comfortable writing sci fi than fantasy, and I also worried that my typically serious and gritty style was more at risk of seeming cheesy in such a world.

    And then Karma roped me into Sojourn, a cookie-cutter fantasy adventure that I normally wouldn’t have touched with a barge pole, but with the twist that it was supposed to be a parody (something that I missed in my initial skim-read). I decided to take one of the characters from my Runes concept and play up his egotistical and snarky attributes to the point of comedy. Sojourn folded disappointingly early, but it was still quite fun to write an overtly comedic character for once.

    By chance, Kris contacted me not long after this to ask about co-GMing a story, and armed with my new appreciation for silliness, I pitched Runes to her. Kris was able to fill in a few of the story gaps that I had been struggling with, as well as flesh out the world (the Mer and the anti-magic Risemen were both her idea). The runes themselves, with their ability to instantly grant magic to anyone who touched them, remained central as a metaphor for power - essentially standing in for money, oil, WMDs...any form of power that can be hoarded and used to coerce or dominate others. Power being a force that reveals true motives was very much the message behind the various rulers of the three cities - as well as corrupting in a more literal sense, with extended rune use damaging and degrading people’s bodies.

    With my new confidence for light as well as serious writing, I felt that Runes could possibly work as either, and so I put the decision to the players in an interest thread. They seemed to prefer something more light-hearted. Having just finished watching Final Space, I wanted to craft a similar story - one which at its core was rather silly, but had room to delve into emotional or dark territory. Balancing these two was probably the biggest problem I ran into with this RP, although it wasn’t the first one.

    The first issue I hit was with the story’s NPC characters. With a theme of power being a blade without a hilt, I wanted to show a range of ways in which people could use it: from the PCs using it for good, to various minor characters using it for evil, to the grey areas in between like the egocentric Immortal who hoards power but isn’t explicitly out to dominate anyone, and the main antagonist Leveler who seeks a theoretically noble goal by extreme means. I also created a squad of lieutenants for the Leveler with the intention of letting their different personalities play off the PCs as well as each other, and to offer some varied perspectives on the major plot developments. In practical terms, they were also there to make sure that the Leveler didn’t have to do everything herself, and wouldn’t diminish her sense of power and threat by putting the players through multiple narrow escapes from her. So far, so good.

    One of these “lieutenant” characters, Redmoor, was the creation of Splat to serve as a personal antagonist for her character. I then hit on the idea of doing this for everyone, with all the PCs getting their own personal nemesis secondary to the overarching villain. I hoped that this would give players additional investment in the story, but it turned into a complete disaster because I forgot one of the fundamental constants of GMing on RPA: player attrition. Two players bowed out after a single post, and two more for personal reasons by the end of the second act, leaving many of these 1x1 rivalries unbuilt or hanging. Redmoor probably had the worst luck, being set up against the PC Raven, then Solar, then Red, all of whom eventually dropped from the RP. With the “personal nemesis” plot truncated for a lot of characters, I belatedly started treating the lieutenants as more of a unit instead of pairing them off with individual PCs. This was probably something that I should have done from the beginning, as letting the players fight as a united group (forging their own bonds and picking their own nemeses) would have been better for their own character development too.

    At the start of the RP, I PM’d everyone to ask if they wanted a particular subplot or character arc written in. I was doing this to mentally sort the players into the ones who had a particular idea in mind, and those who would just flow along with the plot, reacting to events with no particular character development or relationship building in mind. Of course, I forgot about a third group - those who have no plan at the beginning but still want to develop some kind of arc as they go. I did schedule a few “down time” scenes where the PCs were left to their own devices to do character scenes among themselves, but this wasn’t really enough with the reduced pool of players available by act 3.

    Balancing the down time between writing NPC interactions and encouraging the PCs to talk to each other was something that I struggled to get right in this RP. In an attempt to keep the pace of the story moving forward, I also wrote a lot of conversations out in full, between NPCs and inactive PCs - I’m not sure if this gave the remaining PCs enough opportunity to speak. Although it ensured that important plot and character beats were covered, I might have given the players too little room to maneuver, out of fear that they might not ask the right questions to prompt exposition out of the right characters.

    I also feel that I could have paid more attention to the players’ plans beyond the initial subplot offer. I made assumptions about which inactive PCs could be easily retooled or which ones the players still cared about. As an example of the former, I killed Raven early and brought a swift end to his rivalry with Redmoor - something that I could have made more of if I wasn’t being lazy. As an example of the latter, I made the effort to develop Solar but then made him a shock death based on process of elimination (Illusion had a subplot still to play out, and Wraith I was holding in case of Price’s return). Unfortunately by doing this I also robbed my remaining PCs of a budding friend, which I might not have done if paying proper attention to my remaining players.

    The biggest problem for me and my players though was one that I mentioned previously: tone. The original rules that I made for myself were something akin to those of Final Space - silly except when emotion or combat was required, and generally turning dead serious when the main villain shows up. This can be seen in the rather dark prologue featuring the Leveler, compared to the grim but humour-dusted opening scene where the PCs arrive in the Enlightened City. Unfortunately, I didn’t explicitly communicate this blueprint to my players, which led to PCs running the gamut from almost totally serious (Wraith) to almost totally loopy (Hole). The latter, incidentally, also made me break my own rule of keeping the Leveler’s presentation non-comedic. Adding to the potential for player confusion was a mostly serious first act being followed by a mostly silly second one (due to the introduction of the crazy Hole and the highly snarky Immortal), and then flipping again to a mostly serious third (featuring sinister and creepy Mer that somewhat clashed with the one the players had been previously introduced to). As my first attempt at juxtaposing tones, I don’t think I succeeded all that well.

    Because of trying to fix these mistakes - the evolving tone, the evolving miniboss dynamic, trying to juggle inactive PCs - on the fly, I ended up with a messy plot and many setups without payoffs. If I ever want to do my usual thing and novelise the finished RP, there is definitely going to be some amount of rewriting needed. But a bigger sin than the incoherent story was an RP that was sometimes not particularly fun for players, with them playing catch up even more than I was. I could definitely have done more here to make a better RP and there are some lessons which I will try and take forward to future projects.
    Spoiler: My RP links 

    PM me for novelised versions of any of my RPs, or ones that I have participated in. Set by the awesome Karma.


  5. #75
    The Last Remembrancer
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    I should have made time for Runes. I should really make time to go and read it now its finished. Balancing tone is hard.

  6. #76
    The Replicant
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    It is indeed. You’re quite welcome to read through - let me know what works and what doesn’t...and if you can follow what’s going on!

    I don’t think I’ll have time for rewrites anytime soon, but one of the clearest cut changes would probably be the ending - narratively speaking it makes far more sense to have the Leveler die in front of the PCs, so that everyone sees the godlike being proved mortal, and the PCs aren’t implicitly looking over their shoulders for the rest of their lives. The Hole presumably still ends up in space, albeit teleporting there in a mad fit of grief this time.
    Spoiler: My RP links 

    PM me for novelised versions of any of my RPs, or ones that I have participated in. Set by the awesome Karma.


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