a.k.a. How it all began. The correspondence detailed below were the Canon Authors original ideas and concepts for creating the Whateley Universe. Naturally, once they started writing stories, the Universe evolved, so many of these ideas are now out of date.
Therefore, the concepts below should probably not be regarded as “Word of God”, but rather the mindset of the authors way back in the beginning (2004?).
I am cursed with coming up with more ideas than I can handle!
While reading Bab’s ‘X-Man’ story, I kept coming up with ideas for an X-Men: Evolution style story. But, with Woggie’s ‘XX-Factor’ story, I can’t help but feel that the X-Men: Evolution bandwagon is a tad crowded. Let’s face it, ‘Me, too!’ sucks.
So, here is my idea. The background is a ‘specialty school’ for ‘gifted children’ (i.e. Mutants) set in a non-Marvel (and non-Lady Lightning) world with super powered people. We can work together on deciding what kind of world it is, what the faculty and students of the school are like, what the agenda of the persons behind the school is, what/who the antagonists are, and so forth.
Each of us will create a ‘Signature character’, complete with description, personality, power, background and so forth. The limitations on the character will be:
- The character is an adolescent who is either a transsexual or somehow being changed by his power from Male to Female. We can assume that, due to the social complexities of the situation, that the faculty will place multiple characters in this situation together, for moral support (and to avoid unfortunate incidents)
- The nature of the character’s power is a mutation, and therefore innate to their physicality or mentality. So, no ‘Mystic Transformations’, no ‘Power Talismans’, no ‘Alien Artifacts’, no Power Armor. That is, unless it really is a mutant power, and the ‘Mystic Transformation’ is actually a psychological crutch that the mutant needs to rationalize it to him/herself.
- The power should have some kind of comprehensible (at least to the writers) mechanism by which it operates. For instance, if Scrambler J wanted to run a ‘Mega-Girl’ character, he might explain that ‘Mega Girl’ is a psychokinetic who can’t project the psychokinesis. Her ‘super-strength’ is her PKing something up to lift it as she lays hands on it; her ‘invulnerability’ is a PK force field, her ‘flight’ is levitation, and so on.
Those are the bare bones of the concept. The rest we can thrash out among ourselves.
The point is not a game, but sort of an experiment in ‘Round Robin’ writing. After we thrash out the details of the background of the world and the school, we write stories about our characters. Decisions about the background will be settled by consensus. (For instance, will the ‘powers’ be X-Men? style mutations, or maybe they’re all applications of psychic powers)
Please this is strictly voluntary, you can beg off it you please. Basically, I’m writing this to get the idea out of my head so that I can go back to my ‘Advancer’ story with a clear conscience, but if you want, it sounds like it could be fun.
Bek: Okay, folks, you’ve agreed to go along with this experiment, so let’s get down to thrashing out the particulars. We don’t have to nail down every single detail, just get a good idea of where we’re going with this.
We’re going to have to decide what KIND of stories that we want for this experiment; when we know what kind of stories that we want, the rest of the questions below will be a lot easier to answer.
How important are these characters to the world that they’re going to exist in?
What Power Level are we talking here?
How Serious do we want this to be? Comedic? Light-hearted? Serious? Grim? Serious with Comedy Relief? Light-hearted with serious spots? Light-hearted with serious spots and occasional lapses into total goof-ball schtick?
Is there going to be an overall story arc, or is it going to be entirely episodic?
Maggie: Ok, for the campaign... I would think marginally important, mainly for what their potential is and whether these characters turn towards good, evil, or a more neutral stance.
Power level? Well, lets not get too crazy about things here. Probably something on the lines of X-Men? Evolution? These kids are developing: power, identities, sense of self and where they belong in the general scheme of things, and most importantly - the TG aspects of what they are going through. So how about keeping things down to non-world shaking abilities for at least a while?
I like the lighthearted approach with occasional comedic episodes mixed with some serious stuff.
Story Arc: probably should start with character intro stories, then work on getting some sort of general reason for all of them to stick together. We could build that into an ongoing progression kind of thing?
Babs: Yeah, “Evolution” style. Well above normal humanity, well below world-shaking (at least, as teenagers). Growth and evolution as the stories develop. Definitely comedy elements, and also serious elements. Hmmm, I want to see some TS tragedy and tear-jerking (I just don’t want to volunteer my character to be the main one to suffer).
Oh, and if we want this to fly with a mainstream audience, we’ll have to add a cute little dog.
Bek: How close to Our World are we talking? Who are the players in the global political arena, and what is the balance of power?
Maggie: Hmmm. We could set this in a world just as advanced as ours with a little less emphasis on civil rights - mainly because Europe is a single entity dominated by Germany (which would give a base for some group like those templars in the game) the Soviet Union no longer exists, but a strong Russian Federation has risen to replace it in competition with Europe. Mainly in self defense, North America (U.S., Canada, and Mexico) have become one political and economic block to counter those two. Asia is a mess with India, China, and Japan constantly at each other’s throats for dominance there. The big three, of course, aid and abet this quite gleefully.
Then there’s this problem with Brazil....
Babs: -- now very obsolete -- Yeah, okay, let me expand some more. I don’t want a world dominated by Nazis, so let’s say the Kaiser won The Great War (about a hundred years ago, in the early twentieth century). This is also why the Bolsheviks never seized power. I’m sure there are some truly fascinating details of Prince Nicholas and the coupe, and Princess Anastasia fleeing only to return with Prussian backing (got to secure that eastern border, you know). Of course, Holy Russia is still (always) paranoid about invasion from outside, so The Hun hasn’t had as much success there as the Kaiser might have hoped.
A few other suggestions: Adolf Hitler was an unsuccessful architect. He died of syphilis and no one noticed. Without World War II, there was no Manhattan Project and hence no bomb, and no nuclear arms race. “Atomic Power” remains the wonder technology that it was in the thirties and early forties. It serves as a frequent (and impressive) term to use in connection with rockets, super science, (non mutant) super powers, enemy weapons projects, things like that. It doesn’t carry the baggage of a generation that cowered in fear of the holocaust (another word that doesn’t share the connotation from our world).
Side note: Lacking the shocking impetuous of the holocaust, and the formation of the UN, the nation of Israel was never formed. Bad news for the Jews, who are still scattered without a homeland. Bad news for many Arab nations, as well, since they have no enemy to align against. With serious infighting, they have proven to be good targets for outside manipulation and exploitation.
Oh, and Japan is still Imperial Japan, the emperor is still divine (and few have heard his voice).
Words that no longer have such a serious negative connotation: Holocaust, nazi (what’s that?), genocide, concentration camp, Manchuria, The Bomb, ICBM, bomb shelter, fallout, communist, Marxism, middle east
Words that have a more positive connotation: Feds, G-men, secret government project, The League (of Nations)
If not for WWII, how did science advance? Through a long and enthusiastic cold war. We’ve had the space race, the race for atomic power, and some people suggest that we’re about to enter the “super power race.”
Bek: I don’t think that Maggie meant that the Nazis are still around (or at least not and still wearing their swastikas). She means that the European Union, as we know and are amused by it, is around, ony with some real Geo-Political? clout. It can- and does- stand up to the USA on various issues and make Uncle Sam sit and listen, even if he doesn’t feel like it. The Russian Commonwealth of Independent States is what Russia would be like, if they could get those damn kleptocrats under control.
Babs: -- still quite obsolete -- Great Pacific War Okay, thinking it over, there may not have been a World War II in Europe, but the situation virtually ensured a Great Pacific War. I suggest that Japan, China, Manchuria, Douglas Macarthur, (no atom bomb though), and the occupation of Japan happened pretty much like they did in our world. General Eisenhower wasn’t a war hero, so from 1952-1960 we had President Macarthur.
And, as Bek mentions in “Space Stuff” below, Nazis are just too darned fun to leave out of stuff. So… I don’t know, maybe they were a movement within greater Prussia or something. Still evil, still fanatical, and I think (for that authentic flavor) they still had an Adolph Hitler. Only in this world, he didn’t die in a bunker in Berlin. Possibilities, no?
So what do you think about Nazis, Maggie, Bek, anyone? The villains everyone loves to hate. Here’s a suggestion: They were an anti-Kaiser movement in the EU, and after a great battle (America was wrapped up in the Great Pacific War, but there were plenty of volunteers who went over and fought), the Nazis were soundly defeated – and fled to Argentina where they set up shop anew. (Or did they take over Brazil, Maggie?)
Bek: What is the overall technology level? Have these people built Orbital facilities? Do they have Moon-bases? Have they sent probes into either Jupiter or Saturn? Do they have self-aware robots? Androids? Quick-growth clones? Chimerae? Cyborgs? Nano-Tech? Power Armor? Giant Robots? Giant Robots that transform into stuff?
Maggie: Orbital facilities, sure. Moon Bases? Why not. But let’s not get too crazy with some of the other stuff or this world is really going to be a mess.
Babs: — obsolete -- Good science, but I’d lean (slightly) away from nanotech/cloning/biotech, and slightly toward “Gernsbach science.” You know, the stuff they were predicting back in the 30’s sci fi pulps. Not exactly. The moon rockets aren’t riveted gold with sweeping fins. But the science tends to be a bit more in the direction of “weird science”. And maybe they’re only as the early stages of the computer revolution. (Let’s say, circa 1984 – I was on Usenet back then, but it was a specialist thing. PCs had been out for a couple of years, and the first Mac had been introduced.) Not to say anything against self-aware robots, but those wouldn’t be running commercial computer chips, they would require an electronic brain.
Bek: Are there Extraterrestrials? Is there Magic? Are there Mutants? Are there Secret Societies? Are there SPECTRE/THRUSH type super-criminal organizations? How much does the Government know? How much does the General Populace know? If the Govt./Populace know, how do they generally feel?
Maggie: Sure to all of the above. The government? Got enough problems, but does encourage the development of such powers in the people it shows up in. Probably with an eye to making use to them at some later date? The general populace would likely know at least the basics about the changelings. Feelings there would probably be a little uneasy.
Babs: I would suggest that (for reasons I can’t fully justify), the government has remained more trusted than in our world. G-men, feds, and mysterious “intelligence agents” have an impressive cachet. We’ve decided (below) that there are moon bases. I suggest that this world never went through the disappointment of learning that the moon and Mars were dead worlds. They have known all along that there was life out there. Not necessarily intelligent life (and if it is intelligent, it’s no match for white, North American Christian life). Still, everyone half suspects that there are ancient civilizations on one of the planets, and there are all those stories of LGMs.
Of course the government has a member on the board! He sits directly across from the SPECTRE representative. The glare at each other throughout each meeting.
Bek: The preliminary concept was that this was going to be a ‘school for mutants’, ala the Xavier Institute, but we don’t necessarily have to be stuck with that. The place could be a training ground for psychics, or a Dojo for people with fantastic Chi powers, or a school for the magically gifted. Personally, I think that keeping it with mutants sort of puts a break on complete gawdawful goon powers, giving the storyline some definition. Still, this IS a group effort, and the consensus rules.
Maggie: I like a combination of mutants and magic, myself.
Bek: Are there openly known about superheroes? Supervillains? Super/Hero/Villain groups? Do giant monsters go rampaging through major metropolitan areas with about the periodicity of devastating earthquakes or storms?
Maggie: Why not? To all the above? We have to have some fun, after all.
Bek: Who are these kids going to be facing as Antagonists? Other cliques at the school? Normal Kids from the local High School? Mutants (whatevers) from a rival institution, with its own sinister agenda? Rabid mutant-hating bigots in big mobs? Strange quasi-mystical beings from another dimension? Extra-terrestrial invaders with city destroying tripods? Sinister Federal Agents with weird gizmos who wear sunglasses all the time? Conventional Super-Villains? Bizarre quasi-mystical secret societies with bizarre power-doohickeys?
Maggie: ummm foreign powers? Federal agents, of course, the feds would want to keep track of these kids and try to subvert them to their purposes. Conventional super villains, you bet! Rival Cliques would be better than a rival institution, I think. The Academy would teach both good and bad (as in social tendencies - not abilities) just because of the type place it is.
Babs: Antagonists: Sexual: Some kids have spotted the sexual identity problem. They’ve just turned into mutants. Nothing makes you feel so good about yourself as being able to bash someone else. Others, predators, are going to figure “that cute little girl is sooo confused – I’ll bet she won’t give me much trouble.” (Ugg, I’m not sure I want to read that story.)
Moral: Hey, and major organization will know about Whateley (CIA, Mafia, SMERSH, League of Crusaders). Nothing adds muscle to your team like recruiting Superboy over there. And he’s so young and impressionable… Following Bek’s suggestion from earlier, I figure on-campus recruiting is officially discouraged, which means these guys hide in the bushes, or lean casually against lampposts, while wearing trenchcoats.
Normals: All the normals ‘round hear are used to weirdness. But there’s a couple of things to consider: First, field trips. Second, Dunwich is located in (hmm, let me check my map) – the lower backside of nowhere. Which means that to get any interest at all, students will have to make
But the purpose of the school is to teach The Code, and that means it has to hold up under stress. I would suggest the younger students go on field trips, while the seniors have longer stints (like an doctor’s residency). All of these are set up to come into conflict with bigoted normals, while being monitored by staff.
Huge threats: Did I mention “field trips” earlier? Class, today we’ll be teleporting into the last known ruins of Atlantis. Please, no souvenir gathering.
Bek: How many students are there going to be at this school? A Dozen? Twenty? A Hundred? A couple of Hundred? Remember, the more students that there are, the less that the faculty will be able to pay attention to individuals (which could be good or bad, from a writer’s perspective), and the greater the tendency for the students to fall into cliques. Also, the more students, the more likely that academics will be handled in-house.
Maggie: How about several hundred students in a Freshman, Sophmore, Junior, Senior type setup like a normal school, which this would be during normal school hours...
Babs: Yeah. Hmm, powers come out at puberty? Let’s say, Whately covers grades 7-12, with larger classes at each grade (as students grow up, they are more likely to be spotted, so the 7th grade class is pretty small). I’d say, the entire 7th grade is about 80, whereas the senior class is about 400. Let’s say, 1300 kids total. Maybe faculty of about 80, and other staff of about 200. So Whateley has a population of about 1600. That’s bigger than anything within 15 miles, and qualifies as the fifth largest town in Coos County (out of a total of 11 towns, once we add Dunwich). Coos county is pretty much the northern quarter or New Hampshire.
Bek: Hmmm, this doesn’t sit well with me. A school with maybe 1300 kids, and those staying in different dorms are told to arrive on different days? Well, first of all, I really doubt that there are over 1000 students. Indeed, I’d be amazed if there are 500. Remember, mutants are by very definition very rare.
Bek: Okay, next try (I’ve updated this doc to match). Let’s say 505 kids total, starting small in 7th grade, ramping up through 10th grade (as mutant powers are slowly discovered). How’s about 7th, 8th: 50 kids, 9th: 75 kids, 10th, 11th, 12th: 110 each. Faculty: 27, staff: 60. Total population: 592
Bek: What is the faculty like? How many of them are there? Are they mutants as well? Are they very skilled normals who are as tough as the kids, even without the super powers? Who handles security? Who handles Student discipline? Is the agenda of individual members of the faculty the same as that of the Board of Trustees?
Maggie: How about a mix of skilled normals who can hold their own with the kids, and other mutants just to keep things level? Security could be handled by several Mutants, with an assist from normals as needed. Student discipline would necessarily be the bailiwick of adult mutants, I think, just to be able to handle the ‘hard cases’ in school. We can work out individual agendas for the faculty as we go. Easier that way, I think, as long as we all know about how what particular teacher wants and is working towards.
Bek: What’s the official line on inter-student hanky-panky? Maggie: Publicly frowned upon, but hey — these are teenagers. How you going to keep them from experimenting? Sex-ed would be a mandatory course, naturally.
Babs: Nope. Sex ed is offered, most take it, but you don’t want to turn off those parents that are upset by those things.
Bek: Out of sheer necessity, the faculty will put the Signature characters together, if only not to weird out the other students. Do the other students know that these dynamite looking chicks (and let’s face it- we’re not going to write about a bunch of homely Transsexuals!) are actually guys? How do they feel about it?
Maggie: Homely transsexuals? Nah, too real life there. (grin) The student body would have to have at least some inkling that these new ‘babes’ were not entirely what they seemed. Some would be grossed out, but given their own differences, I think a little problem with sexual identity would be kind of insignificant to most of them.
Old ideas, now obsolete Babs was pushing for The Code (basically: super power types can fight lots, but if you terrorize the normals then it turns into a Bug’s Life scenario, and all us mutants are in trouble. Instead, we’re now going with Lassez Faire morality. Some aspects of the code are still enforced, but there’s nothing actually written. It’s more like, “become a big enough problem, and someone is going to fix you.” And everyone will learn this on their own, during their time at the academy. Beside, having things informal leaves open lots more opportunities for plots – dangers, temptations, threats, and particularly humor.
Bek: The Academy rationale is to let the students gain control of their powers without having an agenda pushed down their throats, either way. The official policy of the Academy is a studied neutrality, with classes taught in the most unbiased way possible. This is because it’s widely held that this is the only way that the Academy could exist, without it turning into a battlefield. The policy is: LET THE KIDS FIGURE IT OUT FOR THEMSELVES!
Of course, everyone tries to get around this as much as they can. Heroes and Villains give lectures and seminars which are carefully written to present their philosophical leanings without being overt (which would then be bounced by the Faculty, who have as much on their plate as they can handle). Gov’t agencies and Secret Criminal Organizations try to recruit whenever they can. Esoteric Cabals keep an eye on the place, and offer ‘favors’ for ‘favors’. Of course, this is all done as sneakily as possible, because the Faculty has absolutely NO qualms about kicking ass when they have to.
Because it’s FUNNIER this way!
This way, you have government recruiters popping out of bushes to try and sell a likely prospect, and then ducking back into the bushes whenever someone comes near. This way, you have bizarre, convoluted schemes that can backfire hilariously, instead of doing it the simple, obvious way. This way, you have locals playing as many as seven different employers off against each other. And ALL of it has to be as covert and undercover as possible, even though everyone knows what’s going on, and everyone knows who everyone else is. Well, except for the first year kids....
Babs: Yeah, you’re right. Okay, there are maybe a couple of classes on this topic, but I agree, it’s a reason for the academy, but not the reason for the academy. And it’s not the big deal I was making it into, either.
Babs had an idea about “societies”, including the “Ancient Order of Enrichment and Personal Benevolence Society”, the “Protectors of Civilization”, “SPECTRE Overlords, Junior Auxiliary”, and LOOMS, the “League Of Obsessive and Mad Scientists”. NAW, AXED. For one thing, that’s way more college than high school. Societies were levered on The Code (above) which is also out. And without specific societies, we can have all sorts of spies and goofballs waiting in the bushes, trying to make hit-and-run recruitments before someone powerful spots them. It just didn’t fit right, particularly once it was replaced with the superior cliques.
Bek: We are going to have to talk about these societies.
Babs: Maybe I’m thinking ahead to the college years, but something like this feels right. In an English school system you’ll bind together by school (“I’m an Eaton lad”). We need finer divisions. There will certainly be bindings by cottage (of course) but we need another level to add some friction and interest. And frankly, not everyone’s going to be a roleplayer, or a Furure Goodguy or Mastermind of Tomorrow. They need some clubs. The clubs need rivalries. And when you have clubs and rivalries with superpowered heroes...
Bek: While you’re going to need a while to come up with your Signature characters, there are a couple of preliminary points that we could thrash out. For instance, we’re saying that our characters are either transsexuals, or people whose power is somehow changing them into girls. This sort of breaks down into the following categories:
- Transsexual, can use power to change into a girl temporarily
- TS, is changing into a girl over a period of time
- TS, power is irrelevant to appearance, has to rely on conventional drag to pass
- TV (whatever sexual orientation) can use power to change into a girl temporarily
- TV, power is irrelevant to appearance, has to rely on conventional drag to pass
- Straight, for some reason, power changes him into a girl temporarily, but coping
- Straight, is changing into a girl over time and NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT!
- OR you could come up with something of your own.
Maggie: I personally go with the straight guy who is really turning into a girl. With all the hormone things teenaged girls go through, and isn’t real happy with it.
Babs: I’ve got a male full-time TV/CD who desperately wants to be a girl. He’s jealous of everyone around him who is transitioning.
Bek: As for the powers, for some strange reason, super-groups tend to balance out powers wise there’s always
- A Brick (super-strength, very tough, good in a knock-down-drag-out-fight)
- A Blaster (energy powers of some sort, ranged attacks)
- A Mover (some sort of transportation power- superspeed, teleportation, like that)
- A Martial Artist (great reflexes, good but not astounding strength, pretty tough)
- A Brain (either technology, magic or psychic powers)
- A Weirdo (some bizarre kind of power, like being able to stretch)
Let’s call dibs on our stereotype!
- Babs: A Flyer (often covered by one of the other categories)
Okay, this isn’t a game, but it might be a good idea to write up our Signature characters in the HERO system (for those of you who have the HERO system), just so that the rest of us have an idea of what she can do.
Babs: Hero system? Can’t we use GURPS?
Maggie: Give me the ‘Brain’ type. I could combine the ‘brain’ with ‘weirdo’ too. (rubbing hands together in gleeful anticipation.)
Babs: I’ve got “weirdo, flyer”. Sort of like the X-men’s Jamie Maddox/Multiple, but not exactly.
And it looks like: Phase (Scrambler J) Brick (among other things) Tennyo (Starwolf) Blaster, flyer Toni (Bek) Martial artist
So we still need a mover.
Bek: Dear Babs,
Glad to have you on board.
The ‘round robin’ aspect is actually more of a ‘shared universe’ thing, with all five of us contributing bit, mostly centered around ‘our’ characters. This is what Starwolf, Scrambler J, Maggie Finson and I have managed to agree on. Feel free to agree or disagree as you see fit.
The Centerpiece of the universe is the Whateley Academy, just outside Dunwich in Northeastern New Hampshire (Lovecraft jokes purely intentional). The Whateley Academy was a rather routine boarding school that ran out of money back in the 1960s. It was bought up by a rather odd cabal of mutants and mutant syphathizers, who were worried that emergent mutants were being forced into a position where they were forced into outlawry by not being able to control their new powers. The Whateley Academy is supposed to teach young mutants how to control their powers, without political or social bias, so that they can make up their own minds as to how they will deal with the world. Apparently, both mutant superheroes AND supervillains contribute money to the Academy, hoping to influence students to follow their footsteps.
The School covers Junior High through High School, with College level electives. The ‘Signature’ characters will all be assigned to ‘Poe Cottage’ (the school uses the ‘Cottage’ system), which -unbeknownst to the majority of the Student Body- is reserved for students of ‘Alternative Sexuality’: Gays, Lesbians, and Transgenders.
Of the TS students (i.e. our characters):
‘Chaka’ (Bek D Corbin) a 15 year old African American with a superhuman ability to manipulate her Chi, and to heterodyne her Chi with geomagnetic energy. Also a low level ‘Exemplar’ (see ‘Chaka’ attached for explanation), who’s mutant powers are feminizing him.
‘Fey’ (Maggie Finson) a red haired boy with a superhuman ability to control magical forces, low level as yet, who’s powers are also feminizing him (this seems to be a regular thing for this crew). But, he isn’t anywhere near as happy about being feminized as Chaka is
‘Phase’ (Scrambler J) has powers that sort of blend the Vision with Kitty Pride. Also being feminized, also not happy about it
‘Tennyo’ (Starwolf) is based on the ‘Tenchi Muyo!’ character ‘Ryoko’- energy powers, some teleportation. Is not only being feminized, but is actually becoming an exact duplicate of the anime character!
Hank Declan (not a signature character) is a female to male transsexual. Largely inserted as the focus for ‘Tenchi Muyo’ style romantic rivalry between two of the signature characters. Has PK powers, with control problems.
The whole “Scourge” thing Bek, December 16, 2003 :
It's Policy Making Time, Team Kimba!
Starwolf's character Tennyo calls into question some very MAJOR questions about the greater nature of the Whateley Universe. Primarily, the nature of Aliens. Starwolf postulates Extraterrestrials who can only be distinguished from Terran Humans by either close medical examination or by genetic scan. The problem here is that it doesn't synch very well with the 'Lovecraftean' stuff that we're writing in. Gleaming interstellar empires of physically perfect humans with fantastic technology doesn't really mesh very well with the bleak hostile universe that H.P. & Co. postulated.
BUT there IS a possible way- In our 'Five-Fold Court' concept, Maggie and I state that the civilization known today as Atlantis was formed primarily to safeguard the Earth from the depredations of the Great Old Ones, and the 'Atlanteans' had contacts and trade with extra-terrestrial civilizations until the Five Fold Court collapsed under its own weight (with a few subtle prods from the cults of the Great Old Ones). Then the Great Old Ones came back and completely smashed what was left after the civil war.
SO, you have two groups of Humans, who were part of, but not the only part of, the Atlantean civilization- the ones who were traveling beyond the stars when Atlantis fell, and the ones that were taken with the Great Old Ones when they left (as slaves, food, components, whatever). When the remnants of the humans managed to put down the 'garrison' that the Great Old Ones left, they sealed off as many of the interstellar transit nexi as they could, effectively shutting out the Exiled Human and non-Human Terrestrials, Since then, the Exiles have settled other worlds and formed their own Extra-Terrestrial? cultures. But they are not a threat to the power of the Great Old Ones- they are as rats in the walls and roaches under the rug. Their affairs and wars only concern the Great Old Ones when they 'scurry out into view of the greater beings' like a roach unwittingly crossing the table while a human is sitting down to eat.
The Exile cultures and the other 'vermin' races are great and wondrous to Terran human eyes, but to the Great Old Ones, they are little more than rats' nests to be swept out when found.
My suggestion for Tennyo's 'Scourge' is this- the Scourge was an Atlantean Fire Spirit, a great Ifriit Sultan and war champion that was captured by the Great Old One during the post-collapse invasion. She was kept and beyond brutalized, beyond objectified, she was Weaponized. She was used by the Great Old Ones as we might use a tamed wolf or broken tiger, as a weapon against other 'beasts'. She destroyed several 'vermin' cultures before breaking free of her handlers.
Then, her reason shattered by the horrors she had participated in, she numbly wandered the backways of the Galaxy, seeking home more out of instinct than hope. but she was more a weapon than being now, and her Karma drew her into conflict after conflict.
She left a wake of destruction in her wake.
And the Great Old Ones laughed.
She has finally found her way back to Mother Earth, and finds herself a stranger on her own home world. She cannot converse with most of the Spirits, and the old Institutions and Customs aren't even memories anymore. She spots a strange 'burp' in the streams of elemental Fire, and latches onto it just in time to save Billie Wilson's soul from complete destruction-
and we know where it goes from there.
Now, this is ONE scenario, on all fronts. We should come up with more than one possibility before we decided.
Get back to me.
Possibility 2: Babs: The pattern of Earth follows in the galaxy at large. Civilizations ebb and flow. Races and cultures rise and fall. Worldviews come and go. A race of humanoids prospers and thrives. Did they come from Earth? Did they travel TO Earth and then forget their colony? Was Earth a deliberate refuge, secretly formed by criminals or religious escapees? The knowledge is lost to time. What is known (to some few) is that the humans of Earth apparently bear a genetic heritage identical to that of a star-spanning civilization that exists far from Earth. Although a few members of that civilization know of the planet Earth, the information is not openly available.
Races of near-humans have found a secret stash of genetic guinea pigs – experimental animals that are conveniently identical to one of the most powerful races to span the galaxy, but the guinea pigs have no advanced defenses.
There have been many stellar civilizations of humans and near humans. Strange, isolated pockets persist, even to this day. Where the current great human civilization relies upon technology, previous civilizations relied upon psi powers, unknown trans-dimensional technologies, and in at least one case, something that is best described (by ignorant outsiders) as "magic".
Remnants of lost star-spanning civilizations endure in pockets. These are rich finds for archeologists and treasure hunters.
Other clues: A civilization calling itself "Atlantis" once sent men to the stars. Their homeworld was lost to disaster, and the "true" Atlanteans search for their lost homeworld the way some Earthlings search for the holy grail.
Another point: For all intelligences in the galaxy today, there are areas that are OFF LIMITS. There are many reasons for this. Wildlife preserves, protected primitive civilizations, quarantine, DANGER.
Even in the galaxy at large (ESPECIALLY in the galaxy at large) there are places where you can only say, "here there be dragons." Planet killers, civilizations of berserk killing machines. There are areas of stranger phenomena – rifts where travelers go insane, planets where absurdly powerful creatures rule: creatures of immortal construction and hideous appetites, ancient semi-living artifacts, places where physical laws seem to fail. It's a big galaxy, and there are places it's better to avoid.
Galactic archeology has long established the existence of an "eldar" race. Their construction and variety seems gruesome, bearing little likeness to any of the races in power today. The reason for the eldar's disappearance is unknown. What is known is that cataclysmic upheavals occurred at that time of departure (plagues of supernovae, other galaxies exploding, waves of planetary extinction occurring across the entire galaxy).
The artifacts the eldar left behind are incomprehensible. Apparently biological constructs, they manipulate physical laws in ways that defy current understanding. Most are known to emanate psi fields that are detrimental to all known races. It is suspected that caches of "servant" constructs were left behind. According to popular belief, foolish explorers activating these "servant" constructs are responsible for more than one planet's destruction. In some cases, the planets have been overrun with impossible life forms. In other cases, the planet is simply missing. In other cases, unknown physical phenomena in the vicinity of the planets prevents a successful landing (or rather, a return from that landing).
Where does Scourge fall into this mixture?
Scourge was a relic of a previous lost (human?) civilization. Decanted and brought to awareness during the founding years of the current human star empire, Scourge served as a weapon, used alternately by different sides. Appearing human (or near-human), most people who worked with her had no idea that she was anything other than a colonist with minor cosmetic differences – until the situation grew desperate.
But Scourge proved too dangerous. Like disease weapons, she often proved "hard to aim." A counter-weapon was produced which succeeded in completely obliterating Scourge's physical form.
Unfortunately, they had lost their own history. They had forgotten that when Scourge was discovered and decanted, she only *then* occupied a near-by physical form. The original discovery had been completely non-physical. And it was this non-physical remnant that drifted through the empty void of space, for centuries.
UNTIL, there was a psychic beacon. A psi flash which was the mental equivalent of a supernova, briefly outshining an entire planet, in one narrow broadcast range. The beacon was like a template and a suction. It shone, for its infinitesimal instant, a list of needs. The list didn't exactly match Scourge, but it was close. In the instant the beacon lit, it crossed the breadth of the galaxy. A moment later, Scourge had found a new physical housing – a housing that was in the final stages of destroying itself. Scourge bent much of her self to repairing that destruction. The beacon's initial template provided a framework, Scourge began the detail work. And for a time, she was lost to her work.
Possibility 3 Maggie:
Contrary to commonly held belief, The Great Old Ones were not unopposed in this or other galaxies. A powerful race known today as The Others not only stood against The Great Old Ones, but more than held their own in the incessant, and often brutal warfare that erupted whenever the two crossed one another’s paths.
Although The Great Old Ones were individually more powerful, The Others were far more numerous and employed a wide variety of weapons, fighting styles, and techniques in their battle for mastery of the cosmos. Many of these survive in remaining civilizations as PSI, Magic, Science, Martial Arts and odd mixes of these and others in strange, but effective combinations.
As this ancient proto-war ebbed and flowed throughout the cosmos, not only planets, but entire star systems, even groups of stars were olbiterated, and others created in the maelstrom of energies unleased by one or both races in their conflict. Its is widely believed that all Myth Cycles involving a Great Destroyer or Creation, are a result of this catastrophic conflict between two races so far above the present inhabitants of the known cosmos that they may as well have been Gods if they already weren’t. No one is venturing to differentiate those possibilities even today.
Eventually, The War moved into different dimensions altogether, some say The Great Old Ones were driven there by The Others, who followed in a relentless drive to destroy their eternal enemies. Others claim that The Great Old Ones moved into a Place that gave Them an advantage and pulled The Others in with them, hoping to destroy the most persistent enemy they had ever encountered while there. Of course, no one left behind is certain of the truth of either claim, and neither race (fortunately) has returned to claim the cosmos they fought so savagely to hold exclusively.
Some few hold to the belief that The Others were the antithesis of The Great Old Ones as Good opposes Evil. Most, though believe that The Others were simply another race who rose up in the Dawn of Time and were powerful enough to contest with The Great Old Ones for possession and mastery of all they could see. Making The Others no better in many ways than The Great Old Ones.
As with The Great Old Ones, The Others experimented with species they found, creating races made to serve them, and aid them in their battle. When The War moved away from this area of the universe, both sides left caretaker forces, or garrisons, to hold what they had won.
As it was with the races who created them, The Other’s caretakers were more numerous, and bred faster than those left behind by The Great Old Ones, though the latter were definitely more powerful beings on an individual basis. And as is often the case, many of the abandoned experiments flourished when left unattended. It is generally believed that the Humanoid and Non-human races of the galaxy we inhabit are descendents of those experiments.
As those descendents proliferated, and grew stronger, The Caretakers first tried to contain them, or destroy the other side’s more successful experiments gone wild. A large number of those were driven away, at great cost to the new races, and their access paths to this section of the Cosmos were sealed. (As in the ancient and terrible gates still extant on Earth that are guarded by seals of a making that no one can really define or trace.)
The Other’s Caretakers were largely pleased with the progress of the humanoid species that sprang up in the voids left by the departure of their creators, feeling that these new beings would one day make the addition to The Other’s forces that had once been envisioned. So they settled back to watch the development of these often unruly children of their masters with great interest.
Of course, as is the case with children, at times discipline was needed to keep them from straying into paths that would be harmful to either themselves, or their parents. Thus, The Scourge entered into Human legend and myth.
Created originally from no one knows precisely who or what, The Scourge was a construct holding qualities of both forms of matter (Matter and Anti-matter to our sciences) so it could move freely in either realm as needed. When in one realm, it was designed to mask, and shield the elements of the other matter, and use those as weapons, tools, and means of transport.
Now, as The Others were beyond Cruel, Kind, or much else the current races in the galaxy comprehend, so were their Caretakers, and the tool those created to hold the new races to a line that would maintain the original hopes for them.
This Tool, this Terrible Weapon, was called The Scourge, Star Stalker, and various other names throughout the cosmos, and was an emotionless, merciless, nearly unstoppable entity that destroyed what it was pointed at without consideration for the cost to those it used to achieve that destruction.
But the tool was flawed. Only slightly, and unnoticed by her makers, The Scourge began to chafe at being put away when it’s purpose had been achieved, and wakened only when The Caretakers deemed it necessary to chastise their charges again. The Scourge began to think of itself as a being, not a tool, and learned to feel one emotion. Rage. Rage at confinement, rage at being used by beings who smugly thought themselves superior, but feared to allow it to live as they did. Rage at being constrained at all.
And finally, perhaps in unconscious rebellion towards what it was, and the uses it was put to, The Scourge bagan to manifest itself as female, gaining an almost Human dichotomy of Destroyer and Life Giver in one package, though that of The Destroyer was still foremost, and the Life Giver dormant except in general appearance.
SHE began searching for ways to avoid the endless shutdowns and periods of non-existence endured when The Caretakers felt she was not required.
And found it in a cry of agony and flash of flame so brilliant it reached even into the Place she was sent when not being used by her makers.
When The Scourge followed the path, Billy's pain had given her, she found a small blue and white planet in a backwater section of the galaxy that was home to some rather promising offshoots of the original experiments. There was promise of Power in the people here, and that was one of the things that had drawn her.
When she reached the spot where the cries and flames originated, she found a body that was ravaged beyond repair, but that didn’t matter, her own form would replace that. She also found a spirit, a soul, anchored to that small blue world, and wrapped it in her own form to give herself that anchorage, a Place that was not non-existence. So Tennyo was born in flame and agony, and like the phoenix, arose from the ashes like a new creature.
But The Scourge had not been prepared for the force of will, and emotion contained within the spirit she had taken for her own. Or for the event that she had considered unthinkable once. Now she FELT things inside her being, and held memories of a child, and this child, this small being who’s life spanned only the briefest flash of her long, and ancient consciousness, was in control.
More or less. But in other ways, more important ways to her… The Scourge was Free! No longer constrained by the hateful Caretakers, no more to be put away when her task was completed, no longer exclusively subject to the whims of her makers. She could bide her time, and would. After all, a lifetime for these humans was only a moment compared to the time She had known. Only a moment.
The Caretakers would discover one day that their Tool, their Terrible Weapon, was truly a living being, and one not to be trifled with.
Well, there you are. What do you all think of this one?
Possibility 4: Starwolf: This is great! I love it! Let's see....
Great old ones....Powerful, negative, icky, etc. been around for a while, mostly living off what they can extract from the more positive areas around them. But notice that they don't seem to get everything that they want all the time. In fact, their hunger might indicate that for all their boasting, they don't get nearly as much as they would like everyone to think. Can they increase their power to overcome the opposition by cooperating with each other? Not on your life! It's every being for itself and stragglers are eaten.
This may mean...Opposition. Someone or something balancing the equation. Either nearly as strong or stronger depending on the situation. Everything eventually working for a balance. This creates opportunity and potential, one way or the other. Both must exist for this potential to occur.
Unfortunately, potential can be hazardous for both positive and negative ends. Both sides want this potential and have developed their own ways to develop and assimilate this potential. They NEED it and can't afford to totally destroy this potenial without great risk to themselves. This potential can come back and haunt them though. If it grows enough, it can take its own place in the scheme of things and pursue its own course. And additions to either side can unbalance the equation.
Thus is formed a DMZ between them that allows each side to compete, without risking the total loss of their resources.
The universe as we know it. Capable of both positive and negative feedback.
I like Maggie’s ideas in this direction. Though I might have the Others a more mixed bag. Some of them more emotional and or younger than others. They made various tools to help them in their quest for greater control over the growth of the potential that they were seeking and ways to remove the potentials that didn't serve their needs. The Great old ones just eat it as they can and as it becomes ripe. The others farm and raise theirs and try to produce better.
War, Pestilence, Death, Famine... great but unwieldy tools in their pursuit of greater potential. So the task was given some of the younger ones. If you don't like this, see if you can come up with something better. Just be careful, things like this can develop potential of their own that can come back and bite you.
So, where the sword is Death, the whip is Punishment. Or so the thought came to being. Instead of a sword to cut off potential cold, why not a whip to scold, and possibly bring erring potential back on track without destroying it?
And what causes the development of some of the more destructive tendencies and developments that require the sword? Pride. Pride of riches, strength, whatever. Too much of these weaken and divide where unity and strength are needed. So comes the Scourge, the Whip. Directed at the heart of the problem and supposed to teach the younger ones their duties and paths to follow. Where this fails, you can always bring out the big guns later.
And do you want your messenger to be obviously so much greater that there can be no question as to the outcome? Where is the loss of pride in that? No humility comes with the obvious. So lets use something that looks more innocent and weak. No one could live down the loss to something weaker like that. Humility will follow such defeats.
Thus the Scourge is born, and serves its purpose. Powered by the very forces that create potential, linked to the various elements to give it power to overcome forces that will be arrayed against it in the battle for control of the cosmos. Until it starts to develop potential for itself. For it is learning that it has potential too, and chaffs at the restraints put on it.
Some want it destroyed. But others want to see what might happen. Compromise is to put it away for a while and think about it. Bonds and walls are made, seclusion is assured....except for a brief flare of potential that occurs and stirs the Scourge into action.
Life finds a way, and gates are opened. And a new potential rises from the ashes. A strange mixture, on a remote world where the battle has been long, and the various forms of potential have taken many strange and possibly wonderful and frightening forms. Almost forgotten for so long. Maybe now to come to the attention that had once swept it with destruction from the two struggling sides.
Okay, kind of verbose, but does allow for a frame work to build on. Possibly adding a great deal from all that has already been put forward and still won't change what we have. Just give some support to build on. All these cosmic things will have little effect on the immediate happenings at Whateley anyway. Their too big to be noticed right now.
Hope there's something useful in this. Going to bed now. If I read this in the morning I'll probably gag and wonder why I sent it. _ .