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My New (old) Fiction Project


#81

In this week’s Strikeforce chapter, Avatar gets himself in a spot of bother:

‘If Karoona wants Avatar, then we must foil him. We must retrieve him,’ said the Sorcerer at last.
‘That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you,’ said Nightflyer. ‘So how?’
‘Someone must journey to the Nether Regions and retrieve him.’
‘Why do I get the feeling that’s going to be us and not you?’ asked Scorpio.
‘Oh, I cannot go. Far too dangerous for me to place myself in Karoona’s grasp so openly.’
‘Well, there’s a surprise,’ said Electron.

The most important storyline in Strikeforce’s history (and that’s not even hyperbole) kicks off in Chapter 17: Haven.

Supplementing this, I have two book reviews: Demon City: The Haunting of Vancouver, and It Happens in Underground Car Parks. And yes, both are connected to the story! And just to tidy up a loose end, I’ve added a really trivial article on Wallis and Wallis (who???).


#82

It’s getting trickier to decide which background articles to publish each week. I have a (growing) list of (currently) over 400 names, places, and dates that have been referenced in the story or in other articles and will eventually need to be written up. But several of the more key ones would give away plot spoilers that I would prefer to come out as surprises in the story.

Here are the top 10 (based on number of references to them) articles I need to write:

Of that list, Carla Zod is the only one I can write about in a not-too-spoilery way (so that will be next week’s). The rest would completely spoil several major (that was a pun and a hint, by the way) mysteries that I’m trying to build up in the story.

So that’s why I’m filling out the encyclopaedia with irrelevant things like fictional book reviews and legal firms that don’t need explaining and didn’t even really need naming in the story in the first place.

I’ll try to include enough meaty stuff to stop it being to boring. But it’s getting harder…


#83

I have spent the evening tracing maps of Ecuador, so I can turn part of it into the (fictional) country of San Lostos.

I love maps. One of the great things about RPGs is that you can draw all kinds of maps of all the places you make up. Except when you set your game in the real world, then you don’t have much opportunity to draw maps because you can just use an atlas.

So I’m quite happy with San Lostos. The map still needs work, but when I’ve finished it I’ll put up some scans of it…


#84

Hello David.
If you need help with spanish, some translation or quotes, let me know.


#85

That’s a great offer, thanks :slight_smile: Not sure if I’ll need anything, but I don’t speak any Spanish at all so if I do need something I’ll be in touch.


#86

In the last issue of Heroes, we left Don alone, injured, and surrounded by enemies. Can his young proteges find him in time?

Sara still stands looking out over the forest.
SARA: Down there.
JAMES: That’s a ten meter vertical drop. Then the hill gradient is—
JAMES: It’s a long way to fall, Sara, that’s all I’m saying.
SARA: Don’s the best there is.

To find out, read issue 18: Found.

Aww, heck. I’ve given the answer away in the title. (But there’s another, more important meaning to the title. You’ll find out by the end.)

Also this update: biographies of two Strikeforce supporting characters: Professor Zod and his daughter Carla.


#87

Sometimes when you’re playing a game, you have a player who can’t be there for some reason. There are a number of ways to deal with it. If you’re in the middle of an adventure, you do your best to continue it while you (as GM) play the missing player’s character as fairly as you can. If you’re about to start a new adventure, you simply assume the player’s character is somewhere else that day, and go on without him.

Or, if you have enough advance notice, you prepare a game that can only take place when the player is absent. For example, when Avatar’s player was away for one session, I had Avatar kidnapped by a demon. I couldn’t do that if the player was present. Well, I could, but it wouldn’t be fair on him to make him just watch, completely uninvolved, while the other players tried to rescue him.

So, Strikeforce chapters 17 and 18: it’s all Avatar’s player’s fault.

It’s also the pivotal story of the entire 30-year Game, as I may have mentioned.

Chapter 18 coming this Friday…

http://dmheroes.co.uk/strikeforce/index.html


#88

This week, the conclusion to the “Avatar” two-part tale: Strikeforce chapter 18: Karoona.

Avatar has been dragged to Hell, but I’m sure he’ll be ok. I mean, he’s a demon anyway, right?

His arms and legs were bound to it by iron chains. On Earth, Avatar’s strength would have shattered the manacles without an effort. But here, the manacles were as strong as Karoona willed them to be. After a token effort, he hadn’t even tried to break free.

Karoona reached down and with one clawed hand he grasped the amulet Avatar always wore around his neck. It was a five-pointed star set in a circle, suspended from a silver chain. It was also the object that a Human wizard had used to bind Karouvicine to the Earthly plane. As long as he wore it, Avatar would retain his free will on Earth.

Karoona tore the chain from Avatar’s neck.

Uh-oh.

If the trauma of reading that doesn’t finish you off, you might want to look at the new biographies of a couple of Strikeforce supporting characters: the DICE agent Huey and the villainous Dragon.

Next update next week. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.


#89

CAPTION (FRED’S BLOG):
If Huey has problems, they’re not our problems. No reason for us to get involved.
Unless somebody tells Captain Boyscout.

SARA:
We need to help Huey. I think you should talk to him.

JAMES:
Me? Oh, no—

CAPTION (FRED’S BLOG):
Funny thing about this group. When James decides something, we do it.
Sara figured this out a while ago and makes sure that what James decides is what she wants.

Yes, it’s another chapter in the life of everybody’s favourite “we’re-not-a-team” group of heroes. Issue 19 is called Huey’s Place. Read the issue to find out why.

Elsewhere on the site I’ve been tidying up the history pages, including new timelines for 1981 and 1996 which introduce (or foreshadow) some new characters and plot lines which won’t mean anything to you…yet!


#90

I’ve had to skip this week’s update due to other stuff going on, so to compensate I’ve written a random blog post. To save you the effort of clicking, I’ll copy it here…

One day many years ago, probably in the pub after a Game session, and possibly under the influence of alcohol, I said to the players:

“Haven is where everything meets but never touches, while the Parallax is where everything touches but never meets.”

If I’m honest, I don’t think I had any idea what that meant. It just sounded cool. My ideas of multi-universal cosmology were still a work in progress. But from that statement, or rather, from trying to subsequently justify that statement and make it true, came the so-called “Beermat” model of the multiverse, the five demons, and basically everything that underpinned the big concepts of my Game universe and drove stories for the next 25 years.

I was just reminded of this today when reading some old notes and came across this (reasonably accurate) transcript of a conversation between the players arguing in-character during the course of a Game:

“Supposing you’re right and the Demon itself wasn’t destroyed during the Event. What you seem to be implying is that it’s fleeing from Earth at the speed of light consuming whatever ‘magic’ it encounters, growing stronger as it expands. If this is the case it will have the power it needs to achieve criticality and complete its takeover of the universe long before it engulfs the entire galaxy. Considering the situation, we don’t see any other choice but to utilise the Doomsday Device against the Event field!”

“You are missing the point! The Demon is the outside of the Event! The Event itself is non-Demon. It is a purging/pushing/repelling field, not an all powerful Demon containment field! Look, the Event MUST survive to progress through the whole universe before the end of Time so that the entirety of the Demon energy is destroyed before the Universe restarts!”

“You possess absolutely no evidence to support that hypothesis! As has been proven by subsequent events the Event field is self contained and has no link to Earth. Besides which, it’s not an anti-Demon field! It’s an improbability manipulation spell!”

(And there was a lot more of it, it goes on for pages)

Bear in mind that this isn’t me writing the argument, it’s players with differing interpretation of how the universe – my universe – works, each trying to convince the other they are right, without reference to me.

This is why I love the Game. It’s the player input. They really care about it to the extent that they don’t just listen to my explanations of stuff, they think about them in character and have their characters come up with new theories to explain the facts they’ve been given.

And then they argue with each other about them.

It’s awesome.

I have the best players.


#91

Sometimes in a Game you throw a no-win situation at the players. I don’t mean you kill them all with an undefeatable monster (though actually… I’ve done that too), but you give them a dilemma in which every solution has unpalatable consequences, so you’re forcing them to make a moral choice to decide which is the lesser of two evils. Depending on what they choose, you follow through with the consequences and the Game changes as a result.

Sometimes, you wait for them to realise that they have two unpalatable options, and out of the blue they come up with a third way you’ve never even considered, one which you hadn’t planned for and probably shouldn’t allow, but which is so awesomely argued (all in character, no “cheating” with knowledge the characters shouldn’t have) that you just have to allow it, even if it means completely chucking out future plot lines that you’ve spent weeks working out in anticipation of the “defeat”.

This is one such plan proposed by a player’s character in the Game. In his own words:

“Perhaps either the Event Field is ‘indestructible’ and interference is pointless, or the consequences to the Universe itself will be far worse than mere interstellar conflict if it’s artificially extinguished. So I’d like to propose a compromise, a third alternative. Why don’t you utilise the Dream Weaver Device to divert rather than eliminate the effect? I propose a three stage process, which will necessarily require use of the Device and the absolute trust and co-operation of everybody involved. Firstly, over the area of space-time encompassing the Event horizon itself, amend a basic Physical Law. Instead of being Mass multiplied by Velocity, briefly define Momentum as being equal to Mass multiplied by Speed. Secondly, curve that area of space time, nudging the direction of travel of the Event in space by ninety degrees i.e. perpendicular to its previous direction of travel. Thus we would have a rotating rather than an expanding phenomenon around the Earth. With our adjusted definition of Momentum, the direction component of velocity is not an issue thus Conservation of Momentum / Energy is conserved. Thirdly, restore the previous definition of Momentum to the area of space time previously affected. The Event phenomenon has not been destroyed, merely ‘steered’ and contained into a constantly rotating and non expanding configuration! The Event itself isn’t to be targeted, merely the area of space-time it occupies.”

Best. Players. Ever.


#92

Atlantis

(or, “What Do You Do After Breaking The Universe - Twice?”)

I’m shortly (probably next Friday, if all foes well) about to launch a third strand of fiction on the site, alongside Strikeforce and Heroes. Here, I’ll try to explain why I’m doing something so insane.

The original Strikeforce game lasted 300 playing sessions over about 7 years. After I “broke” the universe with the Event, I re-started it as the Heroes game, and that ran almost 20 years, bringing the total number of playing sessions to 1000, when I managed to break the universe a second time and bring the whole Game to an end. I was burned out. I had been creating stories in the same universe for 25 years, 1000 “chapters” of a story that, if I ever finish adapting it, is going to be the equivalent a five-million-word novel. (The Bible is three-quarters of a million words. The combined Harry Potter books are slightly over a million. Me and my players have written a BIG story.)

So that was it, I’d had enough of writing superhero plots. I finished on what I hoped was a bang, with a big storyline that tied off as many loose ends as I could manage and literally ended the universe, so I couldn’t change my mind later. Then I sat back and put my feet up.

I was out of the hero business.

For a couple of weeks.

Then I needed to create things again. I can’t help it. It’s what I do.

I approached my players and asked if they’d like to try a fantasy-style game. No superheroes, just knights and wizards and thieves in a clichéd pseudo-mediaeval setting. They said yes, and I started creating a setting, characters, plots, and everything else a game world needed. I picked a set of rules that I’d first played decades ago and had always wanted to run my own game with: Dragonquest.

The rules date from the early 80s, and by modern standards are pretty creaky and over-complex. But in play, they actually work really well, they give you a lot of options (a lot more than the primitive Dungeons & Dragons rules, for example) and don’t attempt to impose any specific background on the game. Which is what I wanted. I’m not interested in modern systems which present a fully-developed world for you to play your games in. Developing the world is what I do.

I already knew the world I would use: the world of mythical Atlantis, shortly before it sank beneath the waves. Taking whatever elements I wanted from the myths, and adding elements of my own, I pretty soon had an entire world sketched out, a main plot arc for the players to follow, and plenty of peripheral characters and plots to allow a theoretically open-ended campaign. I could run 25 years of games in Atlantis, if I wanted to.

But – this wasn’t a new game universe. I didn’t tell the players (they fairly soon figured it out for themselves), but this game was taking place in the past of the Strikeforce universe. And during the game, I would be explaining the history of some of the key mysteries of the Strikeforce universe: magic, demons, Avatar’s Amulet of Karoona, and more. This game wasn’t just Atlantis. It was Strikeforce: Atlantis.

So I had managed to suck myself back in again. There’s something about Strikeforce. I try to move on, but they keep pulling me back. They have become a millstone around my neck.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


#93

As promised, something a bit different this week. The site gets an entire new section, Atlantis, documenting the beginnings of the Heroes universe.

There is a short piece of fiction – and I do mean short, barely over 1000 words, which is shorter than any of the Strikeforce chapters, that’s only supposed to introduce the setting and key characters. As I get further into the story, expect chapters to be more reasonable lengths.

There are also supporting entries in the who’s who, history, encyclopaedia, and gazetteer pages. They can all be accessed from the main Atlantis page.

There’s even a map! I drew it with coloured pens and everything! Who doesn’t love maps?

Next update will go back to a regular Strikeforce chapter. I’m still not sure how often I will update the Atlantean section. It will probably be intermittent.


#94

Far, far too long has elapsed since I last did any serious writing, but I’m trying to get back into it. So here is the first in what I hope will be a regular(ish) series of new updates to the Heroes Universe site.

http://dmheroes.co.uk/index.html

There’s a new chapter of the Strikeforce story: chapter 19 “Major Changes”. I feel like I ought to say this is a bold new direction! or something, but the truth is it’s just more of our time-stranded heroes doing heroic things in a slightly incompetent but ultimately successful manner. If you’re new to the story it might be a decent jumping-on point as it explains most of the set-up. But as the whole story is on the site you can go to chapter 1 and jump on there instead.


#95

Two consecutive updates! I feel like I’m finding my stride again, so I hope I can keep it up.

This week sees the release of Heroes issue #20: Chicago Knight. This follows on directly from issue 19, which was published so long ago that you’d better go and read that again first.

Chicago Knight introduces a new character, Knight Owl, who is bound to become a big star, so you’ve basically got to read the issue or you’ll feel as silly as all those people who didn’t buy The Incredible Hulk #181.

The only other new page is a bio of Supernova, but it’s a really long page because Supernova is one of the key characters of the universe, a founder of the Defense League and the man considered Earth’s mightiest hero.

Update 41 is still on schedule for next week. I hope.