Alternate intro one.
Eugene Simons was a 32-year-old man who believed he understood the world far more than his education and professional achievements justified. Despite having no higher education and not having a full time job, Eugene was very pleased with his own intellectual capabilities and often disgusted with the lesser thought processes of most people. Eugene had always had an enthusiasm for ideas but he lacked the self-discipline and stomach for disappointment that was required for true intellectual or artistic careers. This love for ideas but distaste for the reality in which those ideas existed gave Eugene one true life path. Eugene became a Dungeon Master.
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He worked part time as the ground’s keeper at a church to which his family were generous contributors. But of the 20 hours a week they paid him to be there he spent most of it scribbling notes about dungeon maps and wilderness encounters in a spiral notebook. He felt he worked better at the small basement desk they had given him next to the furnace. The rest of his week he spent watching the television or reading comic books. Both tasks he approached with an affectatious seriousness. He considered these endeavors to be important research.
Imagine one could shop for minds the way one shopped for houses. If such a thing was possible a person could not help but be struck dumb when the realtor stopped her car in front of the mind of a 32-year-old custodian named Eugene Simons. Eugene’s mind is enormous. Just in shear scope and square footage it would rival the fabled pad of Mr. Darcy or shame the stage for lazy storytelling that is Dowtown Abbey. The inside is no less spectacular in terms of scope. The rooms of Eugene’s mind are enormous. The size of ideas and concepts that these spaces could hold is absolutely stunning. And layout of this cranial castle is such that all the enormous ideas can run together. Each room opens upon another (Eugene is to old fashion a thinker for anything as efficient as a hallway) and if you were to throw open all the doors you could effectively merge scores of different ideas into one contiguous form.
But those are just the first impressions. Upon second appraisal one would be forced to notice how little furniture and material there is in these room. Yes they can hold huge ideas, but the rooms themselves are almost useless. The space is excellent for party but Eugene has poorly equipped his mental house for the day-to-day tasks of living. Additionally, there is very little light in these spaces. The windows are small and hard to access. The lack of light means that when all these ideas parade through this gigantic house they appear as little more than shadows. Details and depth cannot not be seen when something passes through these dim rooms.
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Finally if one were to look a little deeper you might find something discarded in the corner. That item in the corner is our entire universe, or at least Eugene’s conception of it. Eugene took one look at the universe, and was confident he understood it all from quarks to macroeconomics to marriage to why milk is better with hot wings than beer. Eugene glanced at the universe, felt he mastered it, rolled it up into a small ball and tossed it aside so that he could parade his own poorly illuminated ideas through his great empty mind. Eugene became a dungeon master.
Speaking to that retro feel, that may be in part because this centers on a Mind Flayer which is still a pretty esoteric monster. The Mind Flayer's squidy visage is still a flag for the true geek community.
Fantasy and Sci-fi is enjoying a golden age now with vampires, lycans, superheros, zombies, wizards and dragon mamas enjoying mainstream success. In 1974 I would wager that the majority of americans did not have a mental image of an Orc. Today you would have to be living on a Roc to not have a least a conception of an orc (yeah they might get it confused with a goblin or troll) but the Mind Flayer is still ours. But as the Dawn Breaks open the markets for speculative fiction a Twilight descends on what was once a Secret Circle of knowledge and learning. Under that Dome we knew what Tenser's floating disk was and we knew it had nothing to do with Disk World. Now though the main stream media is Staking a claim to the undead and the mystical, and twisting them away from the ideals held by the unwashed masses that could correctly pronounce acronyms like T.H.A.C.O. or G.U.R.P.S.. Some things are still pure though; the beholder, the rust monster, the displacer beast and of course the Mind Flayer.
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And until somebody writes a best selling book or movie about a sexy noble Mind Flayer who flatters a small town girl to ruin than we can keep some pure memories of rolling 20 sided dice in our garages. Perhaps that is why Mind Flayers are retro. Mind Flayers are still clean.
8) Street Car:
Newbie: “Wait that was my stop, I thought this stopped…”
Local: “Oh no darling, between 4:47-6:59 the Green Line is an express. You wanted the Purple Line.”
If you want a snap shot of a city this is your train. Sometimes they are subways, sometime they're elevated trains, sometimes they are electric trolleys that move through automobile traffic on rails buried in the concrete. Boarding these trains is no special trick. Any mook with local coin can buy a ticket or token, some cities don’t even bother charging. So what separates this train from just any ordinary train? There are no Strangers on this Train, unless that stranger is you. The people on this train may not know each other by name, but they now each other by feel. If your whatzit is on this train then the trick to making the hand off smoothly or meeting your contact discretely will be blending in with train’s daily passengers.
9) Circus train:
That fist-fight on the over pass goes from bad to unbelievable worse when wrestle your opponent over the railing and on to this train. You could land in car full of lions, tigers, bears or elephants, and those vicious beasts are the passengers that won’t lift you wallet after they gut you.
The circus is full of desperate showman, ruthless capitalists, and discarded outcasts. It should be a community full of danger and promise. These train cars are the inner sanctums of a group that is both extremely public and deeply secretive. This is the place that they strive hard to keep private and personal. The circus won’t be happy to find people snooping or stealing, but they might be sympathetic to fellow vagabond or showman. The only thing you can be sure to find on a circus trains is something that people are willing to spend money to see.
10) Toxic Train
General: “Mrs. Secretary, I have 500,000 millions tons of the deadliest most evil compounds ever known to man sitting in an aging weapons depot in New Jersey that your president just de-funded. And the only place that can dispose of that stuff, really disappear it, is in Arizona. Here is the Map Mrs. Secretary. If we get a clear track and follow this path we put this stuff to bed in a month.”
Mrs. Secretary: “Oh no general, Ohio and Pennsylvania are swing states, if they find out we shipped this through their country side, certainly not Akron. Oh no no no, we send it through Maryland, then Virginia, but stay away from the beltway during rush hour…”
This train is a government’s dirty secret. It could be carrying radioactive material, chemical weapons, mutagens, aliens, or just death. The route of this train is irrational and political. It will be hard to track if that is what people are trying to do, but alternatively it may show up were somebody won’t expect it. It will be guarded, but not too well staffed because this train’s route and cargo is on a need to know basis only.
11) Maximum Overdrive-Train
Little Girl: “Grandpa, is it true people made the trains and use to ride in em.”
Grandpa: “Heck! Use to be they wouldn’t run without us shoveling coal down their gullets and constantly tugging at their innards with wrenches and levies.”
Little Girl: “What happened?”
Grandpa: “Trains got smart, trains got mad.”
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In this hellish steam punk fantasy-scape the trains were the most powerful tools man ever made until they got smart and jumped their tracks. Now the trains are man’s worst enemy, and possibly man’s new overlord. These long steam engine driven trains have steam plumes that be seen for miles as they cross the desert. They are mile long and move in flowing s curves like snakes gliding across the sand. They come to towns demanding water for their boilers and taking goods and material for their cars. They threaten the town with ferocious and ear cutting whistle like roars, before they chug their way over to the water tower. If the town doesn’t comply, then the train crushes the town and moves on until it finds a town that will comply or it dies trying. Trains don’t die pretty either. Capturing a train like this would be worth quite a bit as her box cars are full of plunder.