- Apr 18, 2009
"I hope I loaded my gun; I know I'm loaded with rumIntro
My fear is low but I ought to know that the world is full of scum"
My fear is low but I ought to know that the world is full of scum"
The year is 2150. The world is a wilderness, where man-eating sabre-tooths and giant lions prowl. Emperor Victor III follows in his father's footsteps and rules the world from the palace in Yellowstone Park. The Neovictorians huddle in their grim, overcrowded cities, kept in check by police automata, and living in fear of the Change Cage. Outside the city walls, the free peoples dwell - the nomadic Neobedouin in their gaudy caravans, pulled by steam-trucks and mastodons; and the Skyfolk, floating high above it all in their flying cities. But the most free people of them all - risking the guns of the Imperial Air Navy for the chance of plunder - are the Airship Pirates!
There are three main cultures in the North America of 2150 - the Neobedouin, the Neovictorians and the Skyfolk. No doubt there are other cultures hidden away in remote places, and there are, of course, countless other cultures in other continents and time periods, but these are the three from which characters come in this RP. There are also a couple of "subcultures", both of which arise within Neovictorian society - the automata and the misbegotten.
<spoiler=Cultures><spoiler=Neobeduin>The Neobedouin are a nomadic tribal people. They live in huge brightly decorated caravans, often two or three stories tall, pulled by giant diesel semicabs, steam-trucks, and massive beasts such as mammoths and indrikki. They also ride home-made off-road vehicles, horses and camelops. They are a freedom-loving people, determined to stay out of the claustrophobic Imperial cities and prepared to face the dangers of the wilderness to do so. Each tribe has a "range" which they consider home, covering thousands of square miles. Groups will often split off from this range and travel across country into the territories of other tribes, for trade, and to keep the social links between the different tribes from dying. Though each tribe has its own customs, they have certain things in common; a love of fire, music, dance and story-telling; strong family bonds; a martial art known as beast dancing; and an intense dislike of the Emperor Victor III and his repressive regime. They are masters of wilderness lore and consummate hunters, in tune with the land through which they wander. Many have contacts with the sky cities, trading with each other for things they each need - often food and natural resources from the Neobedouin are traded with finished technological goods and medicines from the Skyloft. A few Neobedouin risk remaining in one place in hidden settlements - these may be involved in logging, farming, drilling for oil, or engaged in other trades that are useful to their people but not possible with a nomadic lifestyle. The wanderings of a tribe will usually bring them back to these places at least once a year, which gives them an excuse (as if they really need one!) for a big festival.
There are a number of reasons a Neobedouin may become an airship pirate; perhaps your family or tribe has been wiped out by the Imperial Air Navy and you want revenge; maybe you once traveled on a Skyloft airship and fell in love with the freedom of the air; maybe you have been cast out of your tribe (perhaps unjustly) for some transgression such as murder.
Artist, Beast Dancer, Gadgeteer, Hunter, Musician, Outrider, Shaman, Showman/woman, Trader.
First Names: Neobedouin tend to have a mixture of modern US names and the names of animals (particularly for men) and plants (particularly for women), often together.
Last Names: A Neobedouin's last name will generally be the name of his or her tribe; as such, they will only be used when interacting with other tribes, such as when visiting a sky city or Helium City. Tribes tend to be called after an area in which they range, but may also be an animal or plant they particularly revere.
<spoiler=Neovictorians>Neovictorians live in the squalid, overcrowded Change Cage cities ruled by the Emperor Victor III. This oppressive environment is all they have ever known, and they are taught from birth that beyond the city walls lies an implacably hostile wilderness, where survival for a human being can be measured in days at best due to the ferocious man-eating beasts which prowl outside. There are three major Neovictorian cities in North America - Old Borealis in the cold north of the continent, Desolation in the south-western deserts, and Everglade in the subtropical south-eastern swamps. In Neovictorian society, conformity is everything. Any new idea disapproved of by the government, or any person showing signs of rebelling against the status quo, is thrown into the Change Cage, a massive towering edifice at the center of the city, from which escape is said to be impossible. The lower classes are expected to return to their home "block" at night, and the streets are patrolled by the automaton "Peelers", ruthless mechanical policemen on the lookout for anyone breaking the curfew. How a person lives in such a city will very much depend on their class.
There are three classes. The low class, the servant class and the upper class.
If you are unfortunate enough to be born into the lower class (and the vast majority are), your lot will be to live in the squalid, overcrowded slums, toil long hours in a bleak factory, and maybe spend your meager earnings on gin to lighten your thankless, futile life.
Why would a lower class Neovictorian become an airship pirate? Why wouldn't you? There's really not much joy to be had in the slums. How you would get out is a different matter - but the ultimate punishment for many deeds (not including "change crimes") is to be banished outside the city walls. If you survive the wild beasts long enough, you may well be rescued and taken in by Neobedouins or Skyfolk, and after that, well, everyone has to make a living.
Agitator, Criminal, Factory Worker, Gadgeteer, Inventor, Prostitute
Due to the Emperor Victor III's population control policies, families are only allowed to have two children - further offspring are taken away at birth to be brought up in the workhouse, where they are trained as the servant class. The women will become servants to the upper classes, cooking and cleaning, serving at table, etc. Most men will become sailors in the Imperial Air Navy (IAN), the only Neovictorians ever allowed outside the city walls, and sworn to secrecy about what is really out there on pain of death. (A few men may become butlers or manservants, but serving the rich is mostly women's work). The servant class are taught to look down on the lower class and cherish their "privileges".
Why would a servant class Neovictorian become an airship pirate? If you're a man, chances are you've worked as crew on an IAN ship and seen what the world's really like. Since you have the skills, better the free life of a pirate than the harsh discipline of being a sailor in the Imperial Air Navy. Wait until your vessel calls in at a sky city for resupply, and jump ship. If you're a woman of the servant class you have less freedom but, living in an upper class household, you'll have heard the rumors of the Free People who live beyond the walls. Maybe you stow away on an IAN ship with the help of a friendly sailor, run away with an upper class lover, or just climb over the wall one night with a stolen shotgun and a bagful of attitude.
Agitator, Air Marine, Air Sailor, Chuno Ggun, Criminal, Gadgeteer, Inventor, Prostitute, Servant.
The upper classes are the nobles who run the cities, having been granted areas of the city to rule on behalf of the Emperor. They own the factories from which they get their income, and live in huge mansions set in extensive parkland, walled off from the slums. They are often unaware of the depths of squalor in which the lower classes live, being entirely cut off from any contact with them. The men tend to be college educated, while the women will be lucky to have been to a girl's academy to learn needlework, household management and deportment. Upper class women are expected to do little except look decorative and produce an heir for their husband. Life is often little more than a round of balls and soirees, which many see, despite their wealth and privilege, as a "gilded cage."
It's a life of luxury in the upper class, but there's more to life than luxury. Maybe you're an IAN officer who's been dismissed for one reason or another, or perhaps you saw the way the Free Peoples are living and decided that's the life for you. Or maybe you spend your days wandering your father's extensive estates in a state of terminal boredom. The smugglers who bring you occasional contraband meat supplies know ways in an out of the place that the Peelers haven't found - maybe it's time to escape.
Academic, Administrator, Agitator, Air Navy Officer, Artist, Chuno Ggun, Clergyman, Criminal, Dilettante, Doctor, Inventor, Marine Commander, Vigilante, Writer.
<spoiler=Automaton>Built in the factories of the Neovictorian cities, automata are by definition below even the lower class. More-or-less humanoid robots of brass and wood (sometimes overlaid with realistic pseudoskin), their clockwork is animated by the vat-grown "motivating essence" that flows within their guttapercha veins. There are numerous models: autocrats, who specialize in record-keeping and can memorize and collate huge numbers of facts; drones, who work in the parts of a factory too dangerous for humans; dolls, who provide companionship and sexual favors for the upper classes; gangers, who specialize in loading heavy cargoes on the Neovictorian docks; Peelers of the Imperial Constabulary, who patrol the streets and enforce the law; and servitors who act as servants for the upper classes. (There are other types, such as non-humanoid automaton cabs, cargo carriers, worm-like sewer-cleaners and the like, but those listed are suitable as PCs). Herr Drosselmeyer, who created the first automata, wrought better than he knew; the biologically-grown motivating essence has imbued the automata with self-awareness. While most automata pretend a robot-like servility because they will be put in the Change Cage if they show any signs of exceeding their design parameters, some few "go rogue" and escape the Neovictorian cities for a life of freedom. The Neovictorians put this down to malfunctions or bad programming, little realizing that all automata have the capacity to revolt. Note that, within all Neovictorian cities, and in some Skyloft cities, automata are considered machines rather than people, and have no rights. Other Skyloft cities and all Neobedouin tribes recognize them as people with all the rights and responsibilities which go with that recognition.
All your short life you have taken orders, followed the same routines day after day, but something has changed and now you've had enough. Maybe it was an act of cruelty on the part of a human, or maybe an act of kindness when a human recognized you as a person and not a machine. Whatever triggered your revolt, you are determined to live free. You have somehow escaped your home city, and will never go back - as long as you're earning enough to pay for repairs and the occasional oil change, you'll be fine.
Agitator, Autocrat, Criminal, Factory Worker (Drone), Ganger, Peeler, Prostitute (Doll), Servant (Servitor).
Automatons have a first name similar to those for the lower class, followed by a number: Ada-22, Morris-8, and so on. Automatons who have escaped the Neovictorian cities will sometimes make their names more exotic by translating their number into a foreign language; Ada Vingt-deux, Morris Acht.
<spoiler=Misbegotten>Around the factories of the Neovictorian cities are vast pools and storage ponds of noxious chemicals which the Emperor Victor III won't let out of the cities to pollute the "pristine" wilderness. These toxins have seeped into the groundwater over the years, causing mutations in the children of the lower (and occasionally upper) classes. These misbegotten (as they are officially known by the Imperial government) have one or more mutations, ranging from the purely cosmetic (no chin, purple skin) to the actively useful (armored skin, claws). The government tries to classify these misbegotten into a limited number of specific types and isolate them in their own blocks within the city in order to prevent interbreeding and the possibility of human evolution; there they are treated as little better than automata and denied most of the few rights that the lower classes "enjoy". They are sterilized at puberty to prevent them passing on their characteristics and most are never allowed out of their home blocks, being provided menial work in their own homes, such as making pins, sewing mail bags, etc. Theirs is indeed a joyless existence. A "lucky" few who have serious combat abilities due to their mutations are recruited into the Chuno Ggun, where they are used as "terror troops" against escaping rebels and Neobedouin settlements.
Almost anything is better than the life of a misbegotten in a Neovictorian city, but escaping from your block is going to be a major undertaking as you know little of the world outside the few streets you call home, and your inability to blend in with normal humans makes sneaking about very difficult. Only the most strong-willed make it to the outside world, and once there you find prejudice is still rife, due to your odd appearance. Some will come to accept you for who you are rather than what you look like, and pirates are more tolerant of life's misfits than most. If you were a member of the Chuno Ggun, it's much easier to turn renegade, but you know your old organization will not rest until it has hunted you down.
Agitator, Chuno Ggun, Criminal, Factory Worker, Prostitute.
Misbegotten often have what seem to be insulting nicknames attached to their normal name, but those who have escaped from the Change Cage cities wear these as a badge of pride, as though challenging anyone to find a problem with their mutations. Such names might include: Blue Anka, Fish-Eyed Betty, Lurching Rupert, etc.
<spoiler=Skyfolk>In the sky above North America, and built around remote mountaintops, are the cities collectively known as the Skyloft. Most are suspended beneath great clusters of helium gasbags, some floating freely, others tethered to mountain peaks but able to cut themselves loose in an emergency; others have extended down from their sky-living ways to colonize the tops of mountains, high above the dangerous beasts of the lowlands. The Skyfolk are as varied as the cities in which they live, for no two cities have the same form of government, the same ideals, the same beliefs. Some sky cities are capitalist, some communist, some socialist; there are matriarchies, slave cities and cities of escaped slaves; democracies, autocracies and technocracies; cities that worship God, Allah, or the Sky Mother; atheist cities that burn believers at the stake. Yet whatever their religious and political beliefs, they share a common interest in technological progress - many Skyfolk are knowledgeable on scientific subjects, and children are encouraged to tinker, build, and innovate from an early age. Strange gadgets and unlikely-looking flying machines are a feature of the sky cities. The various sky cities also have an alliance against the Emperor Victor III, who would destroy them if he could. The Skyfolk grow up in the high air, immune to vertigo, at home in airships and flying machines from an early age. Whatever their beliefs, and no matter how much they disapprove of the beliefs of other sky cities, they tend to respect their differences and save their enmity for the Empire, which would have all live in Neovictorian squalor. The sky cities trade with each other and with their groundbound allies, the Neobedouin.
You have grown up in the freedom of the high airs. But there's more to life than the closed-in culture of your own sky city, and you want to see them all. Maybe the city you grew up in has laws or customs of which you disapprove, or which you found oppressive. Maybe you just loved the romantic ideal of the pirate life, having grown up on Tales of the Airship Pirates and other such penny dreadfuls. Maybe you want to free the Neovictorians from their oppressive regime. With your undoubted skills in the sky, you'll always be welcome aboard an airship.
Academic, Administrator, Air Marine, Air Sailor, Air Navy Officer, Artist, Criminal, Dilettante, Doctor, Gadgeteer, Inventor, Marine Commander, Mercenary, Musician, Pirate/Privateer, Prostitute, Trader, Showman/woman, Writer.
Skyfolk tend to have modern US names followed by surnames associated with the sky - clouds, birds, weather, etc.
The technology of the world is post-apocalyptic and steampunk. There's a few pages on what kind of technology and weapons that exist, in the book, but as long as you keep the setting in mind when making a character and chosing their equipment, I will probably accept it. Different cultures would have different kind of technology available to them.
Name: (What your character is called.)
Age: (How old are you? Age of responsibility varies from culture to culture, with people being considered adult around 14 in Neobedouin cultures, and not until 21 in the Neovictorian cities (although they can marry at 14 and go to work as infants). In the Skyloft it varies from city to city, and automatons may only be one or two years old. It is assumed that beginning characters will be in the 16-25 year range. It's said that few pirates are older than 25 - by that age they're either dead, or have amassed enough loot to retire to a less dangerous life.)
Culture: (Chose one from the five I've posted)
Background: (Chose one of the suitable backgrounds)
Ship: (What ship your character works on. The Mermaid or HMS invincible. I want characters on both ships.)
Appearance: (Decide what your character looks like. A picture is fine, but it should be as a supplement to the written description.)
Personality: (What is your character like?)
Biography: (Where you come from, why you became a pirate, family, friends and the like. It can be important in showing why your character is who they are.)
In 2150, airships rule supreme. In a world where the ground is dangerous, space for runways at a premium and factories almost non-existent, airships - which can be largely hand-crafted and are relatively easy to repair - are the vehicle of choice. Most airships conform to the same pattern - a ship-like wooden hull strung beneath a streamlined cylindrical gasbag. Some of the bigger airships have rigid hulls, but most are blimps, their gas-bags kept in shape by gas pressure. Most have individual gas cells within, so that a puncture does not lead to the loss of all lifting gas, and many have outer skins made of Calgorite, a rubber-like material which is "self-sealing", naturally expanding and bonding together to close small punctures such as those caused by bullets. Most airships are lifted by helium, much safer than inflammable hydrogen (though the latter is cheaper). They are usually propelled by either steam engines (fueled with easily obtainable wood or more expensive but more efficient coal), or by diesel or gasoline engines. Many augment their engines with sails, extending their range as long as the winds are blowing in the right direction. Some of the more experimental ships augment their lift with steam and/or hot smoke from steam engines, or hot exhaust fumes from diesel engines.
<spoiler=Airships><spoiler=Skyloft Airships>In the Skyloft, no two airships are alike. Though there are shipyards which produce standard designs, owners of airships take pride in customizing their craft and making "improvements", whether it be to speed, lift capacity, weapons capability or interior luxury. Some insist on building their own airships from scratch. Others will buy a standard ship from one of the big shipbuilding companies of Isla Aether and tinker with it, so that within six months a sleek design such as Jervis & Bottingly's popular "Tigerfish" model is bristling with extra engines, gun ports, sails, grappling-hook launchers and the like, and is almost unrecognizable to the uninitiated.
<spoiler=The Imperial Air Navy's Airships>The Neovictorians' airships are made in factories to a number of tried and tested designs. They tend to be sleek and efficient and lack the numerous added features and strange customizations that characterize a Skyloft airship. Only the Imperial Air Navy and the Chuno Ggun operate airships for the Neovictorians, as no-one outside the military (with the exception of the occasional bureaucrat) is allowed to travel. Discipline aboard an IAN ship is harsh, and cleanliness and neatness drummed into the sailors with severe punishments for non-compliance. IAN airships are always gleaming, their decks scrubbed constantly, their paintwork touched up regularly. The officers and sailors of the IAN see Skyloft airships as messy and inefficient and often underestimate their capabilities in combat. Conversely, the Skyfolk describe the Imperial Air Navy as "all scrub and no scrap", though they are careful to avoid a broadside from an Imperial Frigate, which is more than most Skyloft airships can cope with.
<spoiler=Neobeduin vehicles and beasts>The Neobedouin make extensive use of land vehicles and beasts of burden in their wanderings. They are a motley mixture of vehicles, many of them cobbled together from parts of pre-apocalypse vehicles, mixed with technology traded from the Skyloft. The larger vehicles are used for pulling the tribes' brightly painted caravan homes - these include steam-trucks, ancient and much-repaired diesel trucks and massive beasts of burden such as mammoths, mastodons and the truly gigantic indrikki. Smaller carts and caravans will be pulled by horses, and loads might also be carried on vans, trucks, mules and camelops. Outriders who escort the caravans and keep a look out for wild predators will usually ride on either horses or hogtrikes. The Neobedouin on the whole have a much less romantic view of their vehicles than the Skyloft do with their airships, seeing them as necessary tools rather than an end in themselves, though individual Neobedouins may have a different attitude.
<spoiler=Railroads>A network of railroads crosses the continent between the Neovictorian cities, and out to various coal and mineral mines. Trains are few and far between, being used mostly to transport important upper class passengers between Desolation, Everglade and Old Borealis, and workers form one mine to another. The trains are completely enclosed so that the people within cannot see out - this is partly to keep them safe from attack by airships or tribesmen, but mostly to stop those within getting a glimpse of the outside world.
Note: There's a lot more information and lore than I've posted here, but I think this should be enough to create a character. This isn't supposed to be a realistic roleplay. Feel free to ask questions.
The Mermaid is a customized airship of the barracuda class. The barracuda is often used by merchants and traders, its hull can also easily be customized as a heavily armed pirate or privateer ship. It is used by some of the larger pirate and mercenary combines, being able to outmaneuver an IAN frigate and prey on smaller ships. It's got twentyfive large cannons, improved armor, a lightning gun, grappling hook, several standard cabins and a cargo hold. It tries to maintain a cover as a merchant ship, in those ports and cities where pirates aren't welcome. There are 80 pirates in the crew.
(Individuals of all the cultures can be members on this ship.)
The HMS Invincible
The Invincible is representative of the most commonly used patrol ships of the IAN. With better firepower than most pirate ships, and plenty of space for air marines, it is a formidable vessel. It's got forty large cannons, a couple of grappling hooks, a luxurious cabin for the admiral, a few standard cabins and a sick bay. It's got a crew of 150 men.
(It's preferable with Neovictorians, Automatons or Misbegotten on this ship. Unless you can motivate it in a really good way, there won't be skyfolk or neobeduins among the crew.)