Thursday, 26 March 2015

No Mean City: Becca Adams/Threnody Noir

Becca Adams "Threnody Noire"


Threnody Noir is a pint sized Gothic Burlesque dancer from Glasgow. Performing routines for bars and clubs on the alternative circuit, she is just starting to get her name known, and has even been to London once or twice to perform at the Torture Garden. Her style is a mash-up of Suicide Girls meets kinky Bram Stoker.

When not performing or creating costumes and routines she balances the books with income from a part-time job pulling pints and dishing out Jack Daniels to drunks at the Hard Rock Cafe. Outside of her stage-life she is Becca Adams, 22 years old and living in a damp and dingy shared flat with her two flat-mates. Life is tedious but she gets her kicks when she can.

Becca Adams grew up in a tenement just off Duke Street with her brother John and her mum. It was nothing exciting and her mum did the best she could as a single-parent, working two jobs to provide for her children. Because of this Becca was able to go to ballet classes from when she was little and showed herself to be a rather exceptional dancer. Her mum found it a terrible and disappointing shock the day Becca decided, aged 13, that she didn’t want to dance anymore and instead joined her brother at the local Aikido dojo. Her mum secretly hoped it was just a phase with her rebellious young daughter.

By 16, Becca and her brother John were on their own as their mum died of cancer, leaving John to bring up his sister. This time left its mark on Becca and her confidence shrank as she found it increasingly difficult to fit in at school. It felt like she was living in a different world from her peers, though try as she might she couldn’t make any real friends. By the time she left school for college she was a very average student who secretly coped with her anxieties by controlling what she ate and purging when her control slipped.

Once at college she discovered a whole new world. Studying an HND in Applied Art was a revelation to her. Trying her hand at glass, ceramics, jewellery and textiles she uncovered a passion for making performance costumes. Suddenly she could be whoever she wanted to be. Suddenly she was cool, people found her funny and attractive, and it was here she discovered Glasgow’s rock scene and alternative culture.

On the eve of the referendum Threnody Noir is slumming it big style on the National Express. Her costumes are packed in a vintage travel case in the hold, while she is with the hot and sweaty human cargo that was scraped up and crammed in at London Victoria. She’s wishing she’d been pushier in the queue to have gotten a window seat and now she’s rubbing shoulders with Mr Old-Firm who’s oozing Tenants from his gills. Closing her eyes and hoping for sleep between here and Buchanan St. Bus Station, her hopes for her country flicker through her mind - tomorrow it’s the ballot box, but for tonight it’s the coach. Burlesque isn’t all nipple tassels and glamour.

CHARACTER SHEET:

Concept: Gothic Burlesque Dancer
Virtue: Charity
Vice: Gluttony

Mental: Physical: Social:
Intelligence ** Strength ** Presence ***
Wits: ** Dexterity *** Manipulation *
Resolve: *** Stamina *** Composure ***

Mental Skills:
Academics *, Crafts *, Occult (Wicca) (Vampire Novels) **

Physical Skills:
Athletics ***, Brawl **, Drive *, Weaponry *

Social Skills:
Empathy ***, Expression (Dance) ***, Socialise ***, Streetwise **

Merits: Fighting Style Akido *, Iron Stomach **, Barfly *, Contacts (Nightclubs) *, Fast Reflexes *, Fleet Footed *

Willpower: 6, Defence 2, Initiative 7, Size 5, Speed 11, Wisdom 7

XP Spent: 15. Saved: 0

No Mean City: Alyss Clarke-Wilson

Alyss Clarke-Wilson

Alyss is a pretty, rich girl with a friendly heart and a slightly spoiled, sheltered life. The only child of two Cambridge barristers, she grew up with everything she wanted without having to work to get it. Her childhood was spent in the company of au pairs while her parents worked. Her best friends were the dogs that mummy bread as a side project and her pony, Arthur, who was a gift from daddy for her eighth birthday. She also developed a fondness for knitting, reading and gardening from her au pairs and the house staff.

Her parents expected their pretty little girl to grow up and become a trophy wife, setting up a trust fund to support her until a suitably rich husband came along -and she was happy to spend it! However, at 19, after an eye opening gap year in Paris, she decided that she'd rather be a librarian than a trophy wife.

Alyss is full aware of how pretty she is and with the life she's had and the money from her parents, she afford the best of everything. A huge fan of 1940's fashion, she uses her slim figure and red hair to pull off the wartime beauty look.

This woman likes to keep people guessing about her.

Unfortunately, she learned at university that the pretty people don't always get to be popular. Bullied by other women and targeted by men as an easy lay, she became a much more introverted and studious person than she was at school. She left the university of Aberystwyth with a 2.1 BSc in Information and Library studies before she moved to London and gained a Masters degree in Library Science. After a long term job and a messy breakup in London, at 27 she's keen for a fresh start and has sworn off men for the foreseeable future. She wouldn't have been on the bus to her new life and job in Glasgow, if it weren't for the fact that she didn't want mummy and daddy to work out where she was headed until she got there.

No Mean City: Sebastian Spencer

Sabastian Spencer:

Sebastian Spencer is a 20 year old student, studying Computing Science at Imperial College, London, and just starting a gap at a small computing company in Glasgow. Sebastian is the only child of Vicky and Tom Spencer, who worked in a bakery before winning a large sum of money on the races just before Sebastian was born. They've spent the time since trying to climb the social ladder and into the upper middle class.

Their attempts to do this mostly involved splashing money on all the gadgets money can buy and trying to mold their son into a Paragon of the middle class. As a result, Sebastian had the finest tutors and any interest he developed, no matter how fleeting, was indulged; including Chemistry and Computers. He also had a range of "extracurricular" activities including shooting, camping an metal working. He would create "practical jokes" that involved covering people in foul smelling liquids. He would go on protest marches about all manner of things, and he would use the computer equipment he had to hack into secure servers and build computer viruses.

Due to the indulgence of his parents, he learned to drive at 15 and as driven on racetracks, on and off-road. Being a spoiled only child, he also developed an ability to lie convincingly, able to avoid most consequences of his rebellious actions. As time went on, Sebastian focused much of his attention on computers, building a network of online friends, while spectacularly failing to make more than one or two friends in the real world.
He even rebelled against his parents religious views- being staunch Anglicans- and began to study and follow a more alternative spirituality. He dabbled in Wicca, Buddhism, Druidry and other varied and eclectic paths while never settling on any one.

At 18, he was accepted into Imperial College London to study Computing, mainly due to a large "donation" and recognition of his existing ability rather than any previous academic achievement. He continued this trend of half heartedly performing the academic work but scraping through assessments because of the quality of his practical work. Towards he end of his second year his tutors, despairing of his academic ability, persuaded him to apply for a gap year placement working for a computer company. He was accepted onto a year long work programme with "North Central Software and Management," a company that designs and maintains software tha runs banking and cctv systems. He caught the coach from London Victoria Station









Sunday, 22 March 2015

Mage the Awakening: No Mean City

Way, way back in 2011 I spoke about starting a Werewolf: The Forsaken Game chronicile in Glasgow. It kind of fell through, but I've about to start DMing a Mage chronicle based loosely on the original campaign outline, with a few changes here and there to bring it up to speed with the present day.

Here's a nice piece of foreshadowing I sent my players, along with a portrait of our first character, Becca Adams/Threnody Noire. Mage and Burlesque dancer extraordinaire. I'll put up her full profile and background in a couple of days.




TEASER:


An hour south of Glasgow, the bus slumbers. The "Let it Go" family at the front of the bus have fallen silent, bleary-eyed parents whispering quietly over the somnolent forms of their sleeping children. The rugby-sevens team from Glasgow University, triumphant after their away victory at King's College, London, are snoring loudly. The contents of their re-filled "soft-drinks" bottles long since imbibed by throats parched in the dry heat of the darkened cabin. The bus is lit intermittently by the passing motorway lights, illuminating the cabin every few moments in a rhythm uncannily in tune with the human heart beat. Overhead, a few reading lights remain lit, indicating that you are not the only passenger still awake on the packed London-to-Glasgow Express. Muted, ceiling-mounted televisions display BBC News 24. Tomorrow's referendum on Independence looms large in the hourly newscasts, the sombre faces of the anchors looking ever so slightly troubled at the prospect that tomorrow might witness the death of the United Kingdom. The latest poll figures flash ominously across the bottom of the screen. "Should Scotland be an Independent Country?" 51% Yes, 49% No.

The bus is packed with expatriates returning home, many of them City professionals who work in London through the week, returning to their families mostly at weekends; taking a rare weekday break to cast their ballot. Forced to "slum" it in the bus with the riff-raff by the huge numbers of Scot's clogging the United Kingdoms airways and railways. All desperate to have a say in their country's future. A future in which only the Scots - and a few hundred thousands other EU nationals living in Scotland- will have a right to vote in a matter that affect the future of every man, woman and child in three countries and one province.

Someone coughs a little further down the aisle. It's the off-shift driver, stirring in his sleep. His leg stretched far out into the centre isle. You can just barely hear the stilted "patter" of the late night Radio Clyde DJ, his voice meandering lazily down the aisle to your seat in the middle of the bus. A few rows further down, you can hear the French woman make another disgusted tutting noise as -for the third time in as many hours- she's forced to nudge the head of a sleeping drunk away from her shoulder.

You're just about to -finally- doze off when a intense flash of orange light fights its way past your closed eye-lids. You've no time to blink away the after-image before the blast hits you -followed shortly thereafter by a wall of sound and humans screams. You feel your stomach lurch, grateful you had the sense to leave your seat restraints buckled as floor becomes the ceiling and two dozen passengers fall from their seats onto the roof and luggage racks. A terrible shriek of grinding metal tells you the bus is on it's roof, sliding across the motorway embankment. With another sudden lurch, the bus rolls. One of the "Let it Go" Children flies past you, her horrified baby-scream lost in the noise and tumult. Something wet, acid and smelling of bile soaks your clothes, a window smashes, and a man is crushed as the bus rolls again, his upper torso still in the bus while the lower is pulped into paste by the still-rolling vehicle.

After a few moments more, the bus comes to an -almost- rest. It's not moving any more, but it's rocking up and down like a see-saw, as though poised at the edge of something. You can hear what sounds like gunfire nearby. Outside, you see lightning flash. Was it lightning that did this? But no, the skies were clear. You reach up to a warm sticky spot on your forehead. Some-ones blood is running down your face. That's when you see the rapidly approaching headlights. There's a screech of brakes then... nothing.

It feels like a very, very long time before you wake up.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Edarnia: Gods and Weather

In Edarnia, my home-brew setting, weather doesn't depend on climate patterns in the same way as it does in real-life. Instead, on Edarnia, weather exists at the whim of the Gods. So, the weather experienced in any given geographical area is entirely dependent on which pantheon is worshipped locally, and on that pantheon's relationships with other pantheons that might influence the local weather.

Take the Protectorate of Zama, for example. Here, the Pantheon of the Sun (the Phoenician Pantheon)is worshiped by the vast majority of the inhabitants. As one might expect, this results in warm, sunny days and (because the Pantheon of the Sun also has purview over the moon and stars) warm, clear nights. Because the Pantheon of the Sun has fairly warm relations with the Pantheon of the Earth, the soil is healthy and experiences a long growing seasons. Three to four crops a year are common, but crop growth is also dependent on the Pantheon of the Suns' somewhat difficult relationship with the Pantheon of the Sky (also known as the Pantheon of Storms). Thus, when it does rain, the rain often comes accompanied by high winds and can damage crops as much as nourish them. Thus, the Protectorate of Zama does all it can to keep on good terms with the Pantheon of Rivers, which provides a steady source of clean water to irrigate Zama's crops.

In a similar vein, the lands under the reign of the Pantheon of Storms are dark, cold and often windy. Due to the difficult relationship with the Pantheon of the Sun, the lands see very little direct sunlight through the omnipresent cloud cover. And due to the outright hostility the Pantheon of the Earth bears the Pantheon of Storms (due to the rape of an earth goddess by a god of the skies), the soil is extremely poor. Thus, the population in these lands is dependent on the seas for raiding, fishing and trade - and the violent Storm Gods have assured themselves of the cooperation of the Pantheon of Seas by the simple expedient of having taken one of their number hostage.

Under the Earth, in the lands between the surface and hell, the Pantheon of Darkness alone holds sway. Thus, there is no sun and little breeze, for the one thing the Gods of the Sky and the Sun can always agree upon is that the Pantheon of Darkness is their greatest foe. That being said, the Pantheons of Water and Sea have no quarrel with the Pantheon of Darkness, and so both fresh and salt water can be found in the Underearth. Moreover, the neutrality of the Mycenean Pantheon, the Pantheon of Fire, (who reside under a mountain themselves, after all) ensures the Underearth remains warm. This combination of water and heat allows some plants to grow and fish and other animal life to prosper in small number.

Finally, the lands of the Imperium are bleak and barren. The humans who reside their have turned their backs on the gods to traffic with demons and devils. Thus, the temperature is always either too cold or two warm, the lighting is always dull and grey, water is brackish, there is very little direct sunlight and it almost never rains. Thus the humans of the Imperium ever see to expand their lands by conquest and enslavement and rely entirely on conquest, trade and tribute in order to feed themselves.

Monday, 1 September 2014

L5R Characters

Here's a group photograph of the miniatures I painted for my L5R group. From left to right: Tsuruchi Daiki, Agasha Haruki Naoki-Ro, Chuda Fumiko, Bayushi Midori, Hida Tadakatus and Kuni Kasumi.



Kuni Kasumi

Friday, 29 August 2014

Dark Heresy/Death Knell

Isn't it typical? No sooner do I start recording our adventures on the blog than the game dies. While a few of our players were away over the Holidays, I started up a game of Legend of the Five \rings with my group, using the Heroes of Rokugan III organised play modules.

My group liked it so much, we've moved over to playing L5R instead of Dark Heresy. We're now four module in and all the payers who have been able to make a full session so far love it. One of my players commented that they loved the challenge of navigating the put-falls an constraints of what is, to westerners, an entirely alien society. The other quickly agreed.

And that, I think, is what's central to the appeal of Legend of the Five Rings.

Unfortunately I won't be able to put up any actual play reports here for a good long time (because it's an organised play campaign, anything I put up here would constitute spoilers). But I am keeping a journal. So when the campaign ends I about a year or so, I'll put the journal up for all to see.