Author Topic: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled  (Read 43507 times)

Cthuluzord

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Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« on: January 22, 2013, 08:31:21 PM »
So we are starting the new campaign. I thought I'd post what information I can now so anyone wishing to write up their character has a place to.

The Setting

Brighter Futures Academy: The centerpiece of the whole campaign—The Brighter Futures Academy (owned by the Channing Cooperative Educational Group) is located in a low-rent residential neighborhood in downtown St. Louis, surrounded on all sides by major highways heading to better places. The school is a single story tall and located on what used to be (and sometimes still is) an active drug corner, flanked by a gas station, empty lot, and its bus garage. The floorplan is relatively small, with a modest cafeteria and a single gym. There are still enough students to organize the hallways by separate subjects, but it is still far smaller than the failing St. Louis schools around it. Brighter Futures accepts tuition from students but primarily operates off a controversial school voucher program recently passed in the city. This is its second year of operation.

The Players

PC's can be anyone regularly attending the school: students, teachers, administrators, janitors, IT professionals, nurses, lunch staff.

The World

Superheroes have always existed, though their popularity and acknowledgement as "superheroes" is the product mass media rise. The phenomenon of supercrime and heroism is only about 70 to 80 years old, though there are many tales of extreme superhuman feats as far back as history cares to mention. Previously thought to be poetic license, these events have taken the shape of Silver Age super-people tropes, likely because that is how they were reported for a number of decades, turning the message into the medium.

History hasn't been much altered. The ability to kill stuff with your eye lasers, while useful, doesn't typically make impacts large enough to alter the world stage. Some supers fought in the big wars, a few assassinations were successful that otherwise wouldn't have worked out, but otherwise stuff is the same.

The internet exists, as do cellphones, but they are much larger, more crudely made, and plagued by ugly interfaces. Cars are reminiscent of the 70's and 80's, and weapons aren't much beyond that time period either (cops still carry revolvers; the army still has M16's). A lot of time was wasted in the industrial age research abandoned superhero artifacts (that weren't actually using super science so much as divine magic). Ultimately, society has all the capabilities of 2013, but in a much cruder, less-user-friendly form. Think of John Holmes movie, but with text messaging and facebook (even though it is called "myeblackbook.net").

The Demons

I'm not elaborating on that yet. Demons are liars. Whatever explanation for demons the book suggests that the PC's want to use is fine by me. Even if they give elaborate explanation to the humans as to how they are the human collective unconscious given psychic form, it could just be a hellspawn having fun. If they want concrete information as to the existence of higher powers, they will have to pay for that information with sin.

The Mystery

I'm not ready to talk about that yet either. Suffice it to say that when events kick off, players will be reliant on their demons for information as well as power. Nothing is free in the devil game, so a major mechanic will be bargaining with demons (and other players) for plot information. Who gives up a piece of their soul for the next plot hook? Among other things...

So yeah...that's it so far. Character write-ups are welcome. It's good to have a fleshed out human before we start factoring in the demons and super-personas and whatnot.

Leviathan

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Re: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2013, 10:23:23 PM »
Oh boy, Caleb running a campaign where players really have devils on their shoulders (or in their mind or whatever). I bet there's a PC lunch lady that slightly poisons food just enough to not get fired.

Also, the players design their demons? Then I'm excited to hear what crazy shit they think up (I believe I saw Ross post his, which made me excited).

And Caleb. Dude. You're awesome. Can't wait to have this madness unleashed into my ears.
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PaperGangster

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Re: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2013, 11:17:11 PM »
Demon

Surala The Ever-Truthful

Surala is odd as demons go, in that he will never tell an outright lie.  He will always tell the truth, endeavoring to be completely, brutally honest.  His favorite adage is that no good deed goes unpunished, and corruption comes from those acts of "good" that cause unseen harm.  Random acts of kindness turn into intolerable cruelty with a bit of forethought, and there is no evil more powerful than those acts performed for "the greater good."  Except, perhaps, the evil that triumphs when good men do nothing...

The good is a double-edged sword, because he will actively encourage seemingly good acts when only the demon knows where the more potent evil lies.  Every act he encourages will carry with it the burden of allowing a lesser evil to triumph, or laying the groundwork for some greater evil that grows from the seeds of "good" he encourages. 

Do you listen to him?  Do you perform the acts of kindness?  Or do you allow evil to win the day by ignoring his words?

Cthuluzord

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Re: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2013, 04:55:53 PM »
I'm thrilled to reward this kind of roleplaying with points.

Surala the Ever-Truthful has +1 for Nurture and +1 for Corruption to spend on his mortals sheet. After all, he views them as one and the same.

P.S. On a side note, I was doing demons wrong. If the Sinister strategy is higher than the Virtuous, then the demon is always AWARE of what is going on, but they still can't speak unless spoken to. Demons with primary strategies that are too low are deaf, blind, AND mute until invoked. Getting this rule right will certainly make the table a little less crazy next time around.

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Re: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2013, 09:35:14 PM »
My apologies.  This turned out longer than I thought it would.  Everyone wanting to read the whole thing, start at the bold title below.  But here are the Cliff's Notes for everyone/anyone else.

1948- Born
1966, age 18- Joined army
1986, age 38- left army, went to College
1990, age 42- graduated (slightly accelerated course study plus CLEP,) began teaching.
2012, age 65- retired.
2013, age 66- present day; became librarian at the Charter School.


Bran Roark, The Life And Times Of A Librarian

One could say that the man now known as the Charter School's librarian has lived three lives.  All three of these lives have made him the man he is today, so we must go through each in turn to understand how he came to begin life again at the school.

Bran was born in 1948, the eldest of three children born to Malcolm and Keira.  Malcolm was a coal miner, a fair man who instilled the virtues of hard work for honest pay in his children; Keira was a gentle woman with a quiet sense of humor, who taught her children to smile every day at life's little miracles.  Bran was studious, helping his brother Edan with his schoolwork every day, until Edan was old enough to assist their sister Muriel with both Catechism and arithmetic.  Both boys hunted regularly, supplementing the table with wild game; Malcolm, however, was adamant that school came first for all three.  He wanted his sons to have an education, a better life; his life was one of toil and hard labor, a lot he would NOT allow to fall upon the boys.

Bran's graduation from High School in 1966 was marked with news of conflict oversees.  Vietnam was erupting in violence, and the draft was in full force to shore up the ranks of America's standing armed forces; everyone spoke of the coming conflict as "when," not "if."  Both Bran and Edan were fit and healthy; one of the two was bound to be drafted.  Bran enlisted, as the recruiter assured him that if one brother would serve the other would become ineligible for the draft (a false claim; there is a "sole Survivor" policy, but for it to be in force Bran would have to die in combat.)

Bran's second life began then at 18, in the U.S. Army.  Bran's work ethic carried him through boot camp with flying colors and command of a squad, and his experience with a rifle led to marksmanship certification.  His first active wartime service was Vietnam.  Bran went from boot camp directly to the front lines, and two tours later (1970) he was given a brief leave to attend Malcolm's funeral; the Roark patriarch succumbing to Black Lung.  Bran went home, and then went back to Vietnam just in time for the Cambodian Campaign of 1970.

Edan's letters from home kept Corporal Roark in good spirits.  While Bran had fought and bought his brother's freedom, Edan had completed medical school and met a girl! Keira's letters told a clearer tale, of Sofie setting her cap for the oblivious Edan and pursuing him; according to their mother, Sofie had fallen in love with the top of Edan's head over the top of a copy of Grey's Anatomy. Two tours later, Bran had an extended leave to return home and stand as best man to his younger brother's groom.  Edan and Sofie were married in 1974, with Muriel conspicuously absent.  (Bran would later learn that his sister was in jail; her protests of the war her eldest brother fought had turned violent.)

Sofie and Edan went to the Bahamas for their honeymoon, but a tragic parasailing accident ended their life together...together.  Devastated, Bran reenlisted; his promotion to Staff Sergeant was met with no fanfare whatsoever.

1976, Korea, border incident. 1978, Zaire. 1980, Sinai peninsula; Operation Bright Star.  1981, Libya.  Every year brought further conflicts, from which Bran emerged alive and well... mostly.  Over his twenty year career, he was decorated three times with Silver Stars and a cross for distinguished service. Lebanon, Egypt, Grenada; a stray bullet added a purple heart to his numerous decorations, forcing him to take a stateside assignment at Fort Bragg, training new recruits to be soldiers like him.  A final letter from home ended First Sergeant Roark's career- Keira was dying.  Bran retired.

The cancer had taken its toll, ravaging Keira's liver, lungs, and pancreas.  Her eldest child brought out the same quiet joy she always lived by, though, and she smiled again when Bran came home, this time to stay.  Conflict on three continents and a constant dance with death did not prepare Bran for this fight; he watched his mother slowly shrivel and die, and he was powerless to stop it.  Three months after he moved back home, Bran buried his mother.  Muriel attended in matching bracelets, chained together, with an armed correctional officer in close escort.

Muriel's fifty-year incarceration had scarcely begun.  She told of her time with an anti-war protest group, of the situation getting out of hand, of the bombing.  Muriel had turned on her cohorts, testifying against them under the condition that she got the same judgement as them all; the blood of innocents was on her hands, and she stated her intent to serve every year of her sentence in penance. 

Thus, Bran began his third life, the one his parents had intended for him years before- College.  He began in 1986, majoring in English, with a focus on literature and library sciences.  Four years later, First Sergeant Roark became "Mr. Roark." 

He taught English for twenty years, reaching students that other teachers had long ago given up hope of educating.  Keira's bottomless reserve of joy inspired him to see the best of all his kids, Malcolm's steady resolve showed him patience, and Edan's love of learning came through in every lesson plan.  Muriel showed Bran all about taking ownership; every child in Bran's class was "MY student," "MY pupil;" First Sergeant Roark firmly informed Mr. Roark that every failure was his own, that a single child he couldn't teach meant failing all of them.  His tactics were often dirty, his methods proven; parents knew the moment their children's grades slipped below a B-, and those who dropped to the C level got extra counseling after school.  The one D+ student had suppertime visits for a week until he understood what Mark Twain was getting at with Huckleberry Finn; the girl who had a D- at midterm refused to say what happened, but her final grade of a B+ got her a gift of Dante's Divine Comedy.

Muriel died in 1993, her liver failing after a bout with Hepatitis C.  One of Muriel's former comrades had contracted the disease and poisoned a shiv with her blood; Muriel's death occurred within a week receiving the shallow cut.

Union rules forced Bran's retirement in 2012 at the age of 65.  After two months of doing nothing, Mr. Roark dug until he found a loophole in the union regulations; he couldn't teach, but there was absolutely nothing preventing him from working in a school library.

*Present Day*
Bran is quiet, but friendly, greeting students and faculty alike with a smile.  He dons his uniform on Veteran's Day, but refuses to talk of his experiences (calling them "things that happened a lifetime ago" and changing the subject.)  Mr. Roark rarely speaks of his family; the rare occasions when he does are marked by the absence of his trademark smile.  His standard clothing is dress slacks, a turtleneck, and a blazer or sport's coat; he carries a walking stick, barely leaning on it except when the weather is bad (he has a metal plate riveted his right femur.)

Edit: One last note: he has not touched a firearm since he left Fort Bragg.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 09:51:33 PM by PaperGangster »

Cthuluzord

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Re: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2013, 04:16:31 PM »
For his detailed write-up, David can give Bran +1 Nurture and +1 Greed (he is, after all, entitled to it after all he has been through)  ;)

Cthuluzord

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Re: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2013, 04:22:08 PM »
It occurred to me after seeing character creation for the one-shot that we may want to encourage more cooperation between angels and demons in the future. I'm not taking away the rights of demons to pick powers and aspects, but we should at least ask the humans what kind of super-villian they want to be.

In the spirit, I made some optimal power builds for certain "types" of players. These can be taking wholesale and applied a villainous theme of the players choice, or they could just be ideas. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a build that doesn't work once Devlish Devices come into play since they can basically do anything so long as the player is willing to pay the price.

Tank (Armor, That Hideous Strength/ Carapace, Flame-Wreathed)
Key Strategy: Sly/Cunning
Key Tactics: Cruelty, Cowardice

Poltergeist (TK, Clairvoyance/ Ghost Form, Darkness Shrouded)
Key Strategy: Cunning/ Devious
Key Tactics: Deceit, Espionage

Infiltrator (Dead Ringer, Teleport/ Ghost Form, Invisible)
Key Strategy: Devious/Sly
Key Tactics: Deceit, Corruption

Social Monster (Arrogance, Impossible Beauty/ Cloven Hooves, Darkness Shrouded)
Key Strategy: Cunning/ Devious
Key Tactics: Cowardice, Corruption

Shape Shifter (Animal Form, Dead Ringer/ Darkness Shrouded, Carapace)
Key Strategy: Cunning/ Devious
Key Tactics: Espionage, Deceit

The Devil Himself (Terror, Body Control/ Horns, Flame-Wreathed)
Key Strategy: Sly/Devious
Key Tactics: Cruelty, Deceit

Sniper (Prey on Weakness, Dominator Strike with Enervating/ Invisible, WIngs)
Key Strategy: Sly/Devious
Key Tactics: Espionage, Cruelty

Quartermaster (Summon, Wither or Banish/ Carapace, Cloven Hooves)
Key Strategy: Cunning/Devious
Key Tactics: Greed, Corruption or Cowardice

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Re: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2013, 05:46:31 PM »
For his detailed write-up, David can give Bran +1 Nurture and +1 Greed (he is, after all, entitled to it after all he has been through)  ;)

Wouldn't a free specialty in military knowledge or teaching make more sense as a reward? Just a thought.

Cthuluzord

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Re: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2013, 06:58:30 PM »
Ross loses all his points in everything for backseat GMing...forever.

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Re: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2013, 07:07:41 PM »
Ross loses all his points in everything for backseat GMing...forever.

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« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 07:09:48 PM by Flawless P »
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Re: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2013, 08:32:08 PM »
I'm thrilled to reward this kind of roleplaying with points.

Surala the Ever-Truthful has +1 for Nurture and +1 for Corruption to spend on his mortals sheet. After all, he views them as one and the same.


For his detailed write-up, David can give Bran +1 Nurture and +1 Greed (he is, after all, entitled to it after all he has been through)  ;)

Wouldn't a free specialty in military knowledge or teaching make more sense as a reward? Just a thought.

If i may weigh in on this real quick?  I didn't *quite* catch it on the demon, but I see where Caleb is going with these.  Surala's points balance out, a bonus in a negative tactic and a bonus to a positive one as well; this way, Surala might have a touch more power to start, but his human's a touch more virtuous too.

I noticed this on Bran, too.  Nurture fits his back story (and his overall theme of self-sacrifice) extremely well, so this extra point is perfectly reasonable.  However, in order to maintain balance, Caleb is granting an extra point to a negative tactic. 

For the record, I'm also planning to purchase at least one of those specializations too.

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Re: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2013, 10:57:33 AM »
I thought it might fun to use my template at work to show his last clinical admit evaluation.  As for the start of the game, Jesús has been in Independent Living with Broad Horizons for two months with his Case Worker frequently checking in on him.  He has been doing well for the most part and is attending Brighter Futures Academy in the MO-Op program if available.  He also works as a janitor cleaning a nearby rundown boxing gym, where he spars and keeps in shape.

Riverside Teen Services

Clinical Admit Note

Name:  Jesús Santiago
Date of Birth:  21 November 1995
Date of Admission:  05 July 2012

Presenting Problems:  Why is client being admitted into residential care?

Jesús is being admitted due to increased struggles in the home environment after being placed with a foster family in St. Louis, MO.  Prior to this placement, he had completed his treatment at Second Chances in Kansas City, MO.  Jesús has a history of defiant, aggressive, and threatening behavior, especially when he perceives authority figures as treating him or his peers unfairly.  Possible triggers include bullying behavior.  Indeed, Jesús has expressed a significant loathing for verbally and emotionally degrading language or physically domineering attitudes.  His history indicates an individual who is unwilling to back down from any altercation.  Jesús has placed at least a dozen adults and twenty youths in the hospital.  As such, if Jesús becomes physically aggressive, staff are to immediately call the police.

Prior hospitalization, and/or residential placement prior to admission:

Second Chances in Kansas City, MO from 12/20/11 to 06/10/12 for eloping from foster family.  Grandview House near Rolla, MO from 03/11/11 to 10/16/11.  Sentenced for 1 year at Juvenile Detention Center in St. Louis, MO for assault from 03/11/10 to 03/11/11.  For more information on placements prior to March 2010, see client's record. 

Diagnosis:

Severe Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, Post-Tramautic Stress Disorder.

Aftercare Plan:

The aftercare plan is for Jesús to enter Independent Living in St. Louis, MO, where he will complete the Missouri Options Program at Brighter Futures Academy.

Does the child present any of the following:

1) Run Risk:  Yes. Jesús has eloped from multiple facilities and foster homes.
2) Self-harming behavior:  No.  However, Jesús will put himself in harm's way to prevent an individual from becoming physically or emotionally abused by a bully.
3) Sexual Acting out:  No.  Jesús is sexually active but poses not sexual risk to other individuals.

Additional Information:


Jesús witnessed his older brother, José being shot by his father, Hector Santiago, who had grievously beaten Jesús. Hector Santiago regularly abused and hospitalized Jesús and his siblings after his wife's passing; however, Jesús received the majority of the abuse as his father blamed him for the death of his mother.  Jesús is highly aggressive and appears to show little to no remorse toward those he harms.

In client's own words.  Transcribed from the journal of Jesús Santiago

The consilers at dis new place wan me to rite down my feelings but wats the point.  Fate—shes a twisdid bich!!!  and God...shit he give no fucks!!  At leest dats how I sees it.  Its like were some big fucking expeariment or sum shit.  And he sits up there all comftable laffing wile we just be trying to figur out dis crazy shit down heare.  Like a dedbeat dad...like the kind who run out on you.  Wisht mine run out on me but no mine was more like to beat me just for sucking air   Well fuck him thats why he rotting away in dat cage.  Serves dat mothafuck right.  Dats wat he get for killing José.  I wish I cood go back and save him.  Stop that gun sumhow.  Turn it on Pa. 

I cant rember Josés face or his voice.  Its been 8 years sence they took Maria and Carlos and sent me to my abuela house.  She died and nobody wood take me.  Tía didnt have much but she was allredy taking care of Maria and Carlos.  They made me award of the state or sumthing like that.  Im not shure.  I lost trak of how many placemints I ben in..maybe 20....30?  I went to juvie three or four time.  And they sed if I didnt do better here I wood end up in jail cause Im no longer a minor cording to the state.  Fuck Missouri and FUCK RIVERSIDE!!!

Jason

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Re: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2013, 11:07:21 AM »
As for the demon I'll portray, Tom wants me to play some predator-type demon, but I just thought how fun it might be to play a eerie little girl (think The Shining) who is all sweet and innocent.  She speaks with a childlike speech impediment and displays a vulnerable exterior.  While I'm still toying around with a name, I thought she might go by Lily but actually be Lilith in disguise.

Cthuluzord

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Re: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2013, 01:23:11 PM »
For his clever write up, Jason gets +1 Honesty to spend on Jesus; the boy is tired of liars, and he responds to nothing more favorably than the blunt truth.

He also gets +1 Cruelty. It's hard out here on these streets.

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Re: Better Angels Campaign: The Spared and the Spoiled
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2013, 05:38:17 PM »
Demon for Tom's character

Lilith, the Temptress, the First Turned, and Mother of Beasts

For this, I am using the the classic World of Darkness representation of Lilith adapted from Judeo-Christian mythology.  While she still represents the epitome of the strong, independent woman, she has become more subtle in the last few millennia.  Although she was created to be man's counterpart, she sees herself as his better.  Man was God's first attempt, and he is a flawed design.  Likewise women are defects, but even moreso, because they descend from Eve, who came from a small piece of the faulty Adam.  Lilith regards herself as superior to these wretched individuals, and thus, must force them submit to her will.  However, mankind rejected her leadership and spurned her direct methods of exercising her "rightful" place as their sovereign.  Since the error could not have been due to her judgment, Lilith concluded that man's flaw made him, as well as women, too feeble-minded and weak to accept her as their better.  Thus, her touch became more delicate and complex in its manipulation.  She guides men and women to her side through acts of temptation.  Appearing as someone vulnerable and in need of protection works best.  After all, humans pride themselves in their supposed superiority; they never consider those who they perceive to be their lessers as any threat to themselves in body, mind, or soul.

For Tom's character, she will appear as "Lily," a young school girl, who seems sweet and innocent.  She stutters and mispronounces words in a very childlike manner.  Lily is somewhat shy and vulnerable, preferring to play with her dolly, a ragged distorted thing, than interact with other people.  Although she may seem skittish around others, she is rather affectionate toward Tom's character.  In a way, Lily is like the daughter he never gets to see...like he had been awarded custody of her instead of his monster of a wife.