I agree with Echo, a PC write up section could be fun and useful. I have a run a lot of games with pre-gen character concepts for the players to choose from. And more mainstream role-playing (i.e. Solve the murder parties) generally work from pre-gen character system. So I think Echo has made a good call here.
As I read this I thought the character seemed immediately familiar and thus accessible. Of course that is what you get with genre fiction, is derivative character and plots. I am not a literary scholar but I would bet that the scholars have at least agreed that one of the signatures or inventions of gothic/Victorian literature was the empowered yet elegant woman. (Not liberated mind you, but at least empowered) It would be interesting the chart the evolution of this archetype. In that same vein I suggest adding the character a habitual correspondence with a confidant of some sort: a sister or aunt. A player needs to find a voice, and in a character with such manner and reserve the spoken lines are only going to be the surface of a much deeper thought process. She needs an audience for inner thoughts, it could be a sister or an aunt or in this case even a spirit or bound demon.
For example when the Dame meets the other members of her team say the smarmy South American hypnotist, the “savage” tracker from Greenland, and the young disheveled French expert on “wireless” electricity, it would give the player something to latch on to if instead of just thinking of the Dame’s opinion try to imagine how the Dame would describe these characters to her sister.
I thought the intro story was fantastic, it was a little inaccessable written as transcript on sound rather than a discription of sound and at time confusing, but I think that was part of its strength. For the often banal and direct world of roleplaying, most creative risks in write up of support piece such as the intro rarely play off. I think it worked in this case.
Running this character as NPC could also present quite a challenge. In roleplaying it is difficult as a PC or a GM running an NPC to play a character with a great deal of internal dialog or conflict. But the details you provide would be a great aid in trying to run such a character. Roleplaying is already surreal, we you bring in more surreal stuff into you threaten to tip the balance away from something the whole group can hold on to. But the amount of details you have the character in this post would be very help in bringing such as unhinged character into the game. the irony is that it easier to bring vague and ephemerial stuff into the game when you have the details of the vague and ephemerial stuff down pat.
In one now famous shadowrun campaign from the 90s, when the anti-heros reach the room with the CGM, they find a thousand pound cow. The cow is the vehicle for the CGM and they have to lead the cow through firefights and make stealth escapes with cooperative thousand bound beast that can neither scale walls or fit in a standard size automobile. I am more or less with Hylandpad on this, if this is a submission on McGuffins or sci-fi hand waiving then it could use some more build up in those areas. There is odd mix of specific and generalities in this that negates much of the value. This could be interesting lead into to a discussion on these topics. . .
One thing we fanboy/rpg types have in common is that we often don't enjoy media for the content alone, but rather we see the speculative fiction, high concept and high design ideas as jumping off point for own ideas. (This isn't just me, there is a whole doctoral dissertation written around that very thesis). Thus I could see this being enjoyed as a story primer. But as actual tool for direct use in gaming, it doesn't offer much, at least nothing not already covered in Cobra's quest to make Serpentor, the TMNT origin story, 12 monkeys, and another of other stories.
Strolen, am sure these aren't fun things to post and that people must look to you full fill a role that you didn't ask for or imagine when you started this site. Thanks, seriously, for stepping up and asking for a higher standard of the site that carries your name. IGo to Comment
I thought this was good and it always nice to read an idea I am on board with, but I more on board with Scrasamax on this one in expecting some gimmick, trick it or meat to it.(as soon he finds out I am board he will be swimming to the next port). Yet you make a good point and give us a few examples on how to implement that point.
the rating system described above evaluates subs based on their ability to add fresh material to genre items and their usefulness in relation to the game.
Thus the literal message of this sub is that a sub that expands the gaming universe of the reader is a good sub. Yet this sub does not do this, it dives right into the meta content of this website.
For a post that is all about the author, it lacks self awareness. A self aware aside sometimes distracts from posts that are pieces of fiction or ones that are trying to make a point, but this post is all about you. It doesn't even have an argument or a purpose. It is already self aware, no need to cut corners.
Perhaps Pieh was commenting on when said it may be effecting his vote. Maybe this is so apparent to everyone that pointing it out just seemed banal, but if so I didn't catch an intended irony in anyones' response.
I am shocked: this is really heads and shoulders better than most of the RPG stuff I have ever read. The item is what it is and so what, as Lagantha might say, but the prose just flows so easily and your tone is so conversational that it draws us in. A good read.
I would like to link this to the fantasy fabrics codex if you don't mind.
There is just so much good to say about this one, ships are already romantic things and very personal things. I have been working on a ship scrap yard like the ones in Alang India. But after reading this I realize what I had left out. Each of these ships could be post, the plots could be a post but instead you give this whole thing all intertwined.
The Golitsyn (SECRET SUNKEN STEAM SHIP FROM CZARIST RUSSIA!) (try saying that three times)
In 1863, during the height of the American Civil War the Russian Atlantic and Pacific Fleets wintered in the Union Ports on the North America. Like all things Russian, the gesture was significant but the exact meaning was enigmatic. The Lincoln administration spun it as a sign of support for the Union cause and as counter weight to the threat of French and English intervention on the Confederate behalf. Others have suggested that Russia believed itself to be on the brink of war with England and France over the question of Polish sovereignty and wanted to prevent their fleets from becoming ice bound or blockaded. While most of the Russian Atlantic fleet laid anchor in New York, one ship, the Steam frigate Aleksandr Mikhailovich Golitsyn, arrived in Philadelphia. Whether the Golitsyn had an official mission to Philadelphia or was “separated” from the fleet during the crossing will never be known. Confederate spies had learned of the Golistyn’s approach and decided not to let Russian influence go uncontested. Considering what the Golitsyn was carrying it is also possible and likely that other parties had found a way to influence the Confederate agents towards their own end.
The day after he (According to the author's memory of Tom Clancy novels, Russian ships are always male) set anchor, Confederate saboteurs boarded and blew the boiler on the Golitsyn. The ship, most of her crew and all of her cargo sank in less than a quarter hour. The Golitsyn’s presence and its sinking was kept a secret and never officially acknowledged by either the Union government or the Russian Admiralty. The Lincoln administration did not wish to advertise the success Confederate saboteurs. The Russian Admiralty was not truly interested or capable of becoming involved in an American Civil War and did not wish to deal with the consequences of acknowledging an isolated act of aggression against their forces by the Confederacy. Today the half buried wreckage of the Golitsyn sits under the decaying remains of the Philadelphia Shipyard’s “younger” retirees. But thanks to his cargo, the Golitsyn has not entirely been forgotten.
In the 1800s pogroms against Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe had been on the rise. Immigration of Eastern European Jews to the United States had also been on the rise. The USA of the 1860s presented an interesting problem for the Jews, true there had been a rise of anti-Semitism manifested by General Order Number 11 and wide spread scapegoating of their communities all over the North. But there was also hope, Lincoln had over turned Order Number 11, they allowed Jewish Chaplains into the military and there was always the promise of the American Constitution that a man was free to have his religion. It seemed clear that even after centuries of living side by side the Russian masses were never going to accept Jews as true countrymen. It was decided that one of greatest treasure of the Eastern European Jewish Communities would be smuggled out of Europe and into the United States. The captain of the Golitsyn agreed to carry the treasure to the United States and this treasure is still with the Golitsyn’s wreckage.
The Golitsyn was carrying the Golem. After the Golem’s creation in Prague it was moved secretly around Europe, staying mostly dormant (met), only occasionally be reanimated to protect communities but he was always a power too great to be wielded by flawed mortal men (maybe if they had let women study…). If the Golem is brought up from the wreckage he can be animated by changing the inscription on his head from met to emet. After that he will serve to protect his master and his family from any perceived threats. Let us hope the calligrapher speaks Hebrew.
There was also a survivor of the Golitsyn, a Russian-Jew, who hid his identity and settled in Philadelphia. His family has quietly passed the story of the Golitsyn and the Golem down for generations. Plus there are still rumors (in circles that gossip about Jewish mysticism) that the Golem was smuggled to Philadelphia in the 1860s, but these rumors have forgotten the Golitsyn.
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There is also another connection to present time in the form of an hourglass. The Golitsyn still used watch hourglasses and when the boiler blew the mid-shipman in command of the deck watched his life and the sands of the watch hourglass drain the simultaneously. That glass survives to this day and still has air in it. If it ever comes free from the wood and rot binding it, the hourglass will float to the surface. The Mid-shipman’s spirit or psionic shadow is linked to the glass. Whoever, finds it will be haunted until at least some piece (the hour glass counts) of the Mid-shipman and his young lover (who was also a sailor on the ship) are brought up and returned to their home city of Perm (third class mail would be fine).
I like this a lot, I think you could post it as is, but as for advice, I think some of the spells are a little redundant-the slave map, sibiling maps, signal charts all seem to be variations on the exact same power. But maybe writing it up this way is clearer than describing in general the powers a cartogramancer will have over the maps he or she creates. As trade items that adventures might equip themselves with while not themselves practing cartogramancy,slave maps and signal charts and the items that go with them are all useful descriptions.
I like the mount weazel concept, could a powerful enough cartogramancer use this to make islands at sea or streams or lakes in the desert? Could he put a forest over a road or a bridge over a river?
Another area of power you might explore are small scale maps. Could he/she make a map of door or gate to find the weak point? Could he make a blueprint of a puzzle box to find the traps? Could he use his maps like voodoo dolls, if he has a map of a person: there is plot idea the evil cartogramancer is kidnapping important people, drugging them, carefully mapping their body then sending them back in the world. If they fail to obey to he removes their eyes or cuts off circulation to their brain for awhile.
Can he use his power over maps to travel back in time, or at least age the map? Looking at an over grown jungle valley could he map the city that was there 400 years ago? Would this map include who lived where and what buidling were used for what?
Finally I can see having cartogramancer player as being challenege for game planning. You will have to have bunch of hand outs, you can forget the maze or traps you drew up...unless you really want to frustrate your PC by muting his powers so you can drop him in a pit or something.
But I think the idea is great, I had an order or map making clerics once, but they were no where as developed as this. Well done sir.