A Metal Abstraction
In the end there will be Aether, just as there was Aether in the beginning.
Throughout the history of the Earth, there have been interventions from realms not of our own in preparation for an event grander than any other, this happening is known as Aether Crossroad. Little is known of this event, except that its purpose is to judge and determine who shall lead Earth into the future, who will shape the destiny of the planet, and what will become of the planet Earth as a whole.
As mentioned, little is known about Aether Crossroad, as the event happens sparingly, and almost none who compete in it live to tell their stories. What little is known is known from the accounts of the demon Kokouri, and were once vaguely mentioned in books of demonology, though even this data has been lost over time. What was once recorded are the following pieces of knowledge:
1. Aether Crossroad is intended to test the limitations of a planet’s life-forms, and is intended to determine the course of that planets’ future.
2. Aether Crossroad is a sacred event to demonkind, as it is the only vestige of hope left in their race’s dream of establishing a demonic hierarchy over a planets life, after having been relegated to live primarily as ethereal terrors between dimensions.
3. Prior to the actual Aether Crossroad are a series of tests by which participants are chosen. These are referred to as Aether Paths, and can take place in many forms, and over great distances of space and time. Once ten Aether Paths have occurred, then the Aether Crossroad will begin.
This information has all unfortunately been lost to history, though it still applies in truth and there are a select few on Earth who know these pieces of wisdom. Humanity is currently standing within the preliminaries for the next Aether Crossroad, marking the return of an event which last occurred some 252 million years ago.
In the early 1990’s the United States Senate allowed for the creation of the Weather Modification Operations and Research Board, after witnessing the destruction caused by Hurricane Hugo. Within three years, the department was able to effectively launch neutralization campaigns to mitigate any threat of hurricanes from striking the United States. With their primary function a resounding success, the department turned to using their research to perfect aesthetic weather changes.
Welcome to the city of Samhain, just inside the mouth of Delaware Bay, a sister city to New York and one of the strangest examples of urban structure as of the last 50 years. Samhain is a large metropolis divided into four districts throughout its body. It was this city, which had already begun the process of separating their city by a strange seasonal theme that agreed to host the prototype weather generators the department had created under the direction of the city’s mayor, Regina Augustus.
These weather generators were a mixed success. Originally intended to give a mild flavor of seasonal atmosphere to a given area, they instead created a permanent effect over the respective districts, eternally casting them into their titular seasons.
As noted above, the city is still divided into four districts.
Summer District: Located at the northernmost portion of the island, is a thriving metropolitan area that is populated by tourists and the obscenely wealthy. While it lacks a sense of culture and class, it compensates with its hedonistic appeal. Beaches are found along the districts north shore and most of the district is populated by hotels and casinos. As far as living accommodations are concerned, the premier two being the Four Seasons and the Lunasa, both owned by resort tycoon Victor Snell. There is a notable checkpoint separating Summer District from its fellows, so as not to let in anyone who would be a detriment to the over-all happiness of the tourists.
Autumn District: Sandwiched between Summer District to the North, and Spring District to the South. Autumn District is the cultural center of Samhain. It houses arts and history museums, historic buildings and monuments, and has a thriving upper-crust nightlife. It is also home to the government of Samhain, with the mayoral residence being a prominent centerpiece to the District. Within Autumn District’s spectacular colors are mansions new and old, and a very rustic charm. While it is less expensive to visit than Summer District, people residing in Autumn District are stereotyped within the city as elitists who do not remember their roots, as many of the successful artists came from lower-class cities or even the lower-class Winter District of Samhain.
Spring District: The largest of the four districts, located south of Autumn District and wrapping around Winter District on three sides, is the primary business and residential area of Samhain, as many people who work in the city do not actually live in it, but commute by ferry. Due to its large size, Spring District is divided into separate neighborhoods, most of which have their own image and subculture. Most people in Spring District are middle to upper-middle class. Spring District is also home to the docks and wharfs that are used as a prime harbor for Atlantic trade. The district is primarily rainy and also has a number of large parks within its lush green expanses.
Winter District: surrounded on three sides by Spring District and on the fourth by the Delaware Bay, Winter District is a cold, bleak environment that once housed a number of manufacturing plants, most of which have been shut down in the last decade and left to rot. Shoddy tenement apartments line some streets and crime is high compared to other parts of the city. The primary source of revenue for the people living here is the Samhain Arts Institute which is located in Winter District. The Art Institute draws a crowd of young artists who wish to experience a sense of grit to add to their artistic talents and repertoire. For this reason, a number of closed-down buildings have recently begun to be re-opened as underground art galleries and concert venues for the young. However, this small wave of re-gentrification is still minor and Winter District remains something of a blemish to the city’s reputation in the eyes of many tourism departments. Several times there have been arguments made to try to restore Winter District, but all of these plans have fallen through due primarily to lack of interest by those involved.
Despite its condition, Winter District does house a series of notable individuals, though. A series of people from various walks of life all banded together under their patronage of Winter District, and under the group name of the Beltane Foundation.
To an outsider looking in, the Beltane Foundation is a series of charitable organizations run within Winter District to help the areas homeless population. Their institutions function in a similar manner to many homeless shelters and soup kitchens from across the country, providing aide to the poor families of Winter District while also helping them to seek jobs and steady themselves in the world. What has set them apart from other aide stations is their policy of not accepting volunteers who have the means to help themselves. Instead, the organization is overseen in its daily operations by the very homeless people that it provides for. Donations are accepted from others, but the actual labor force is made up of the poor and residents of Winter District.
The organization was founded by Henry Beltane, a former conman residing in Winter District. While to many others the group appears to simply be a charitable organization that the man runs, the charitable portion is primarily a front for the inner circle of the group known as the “Beltane Family”. This is a group of people who have been screened by Beltane himself and act as not only an administrative sector for the charity, but as something of a mafia within Winter District.
By mafia, I do not mean that they are dealing in drugs, racketeering, or are Sicilian. Instead, I mean that they are a small group who, through some means or another, have obtained influence in the city. The group primarily operates by simply obtaining part-time jobs around the city and using these jobs as a basis for establishing connections. The Family shuns criminal activity that might be considered “common”, actions such as thievery, murder, and drug dealing are all activities which are barred to Family members. They do occasionally commit crimes to further their aims, however. They are thought to be rather major figures in several blackmail cases that have occurred throughout the mid thousands, exposing the scandals of several powerful figures from behind the anonymous veil of public internet access and their own homelessness for said figures failure to pay blackmail fees. Despite this acceptance of blackmail, the Family is still mostly a small special interest group that just puts an intensive focus on establishing connections and putting its members on a fast-track to prominence in the city. There are several prerequisites for entry, however, listed below:
1) A member of the Beltane Family must have formerly been a member of the Beltane Foundation, and must be accepted into the Family by Henry Beltane.
2) Members of the Beltane Family must never identify themselves as such outside of meetings with other members. The Organization thrives in the looseness and low-key attitude of its members, having only Beltane as a face for the group.
3) Members of the Beltane must be financially independent. Though there have been a few circumstances of members who were 17, they are the exception and these members were the primary caregivers of a family. The Beltane’s will still provide help to homeless minors as a part of the Beltane Foundation, but they will most likely not be permitted into the Beltane Family.
4) If a member is found to be “compromising the secrecy, values, or structure” of the Beltane Family, then they may be expelled from the Family.
The first phase of the RPG will be a series of introductory situations to the story I have planned as we follow the Beltane Family and introduce the plot of the Aether Path that has begun in Samhain. It is during this phase that the RPG will follow a set of jobs the Family will participate in en masse to begin their involvement in the Aether Path.
After this introductory phase, the game will become an open-city RPG in which players may choose to go about the city of Samhain and explore it as they see fit, either becoming embroiled in various human-world problems or beginning to compete openly in the Aether Path. This open-city segment will take place day-to-day for one year in-game (excluding some events that may involve time travel). During this one year, I will make plans for most events the players want to embark upon. At certain times in the calendar year, a scheduled event will occur, such as certain boss fights or celebrations that will lend themselves more to the main plot of the RPG. At the end of the year, a certain number of characters will vanish from the world to take part in the Aether Crossroad. If your character does not get picked, do not worry, there will be other RPG’s in this plotline which your character may be taken from as well.
Most mechanics of competition will be dealt with in such a way that I hope will inspire a challenge for the players, a fair challenge, of course, but still a challenge. You need not fight to be considered a good participant in the Aether Path, as the Aether Crossroad is meant to judge the best of people in all facets of their lives, not simply those who can fight the most efficiently.
Throughout the year in which the Aether Path takes place in Samhain, and we follow the Beltane Family as they compete (willingly or unwillingly) there will be encounters with demonkind. Demons hold the Aether Paths and Aether Crossroad in high regard and as such, demonic and supernatural activity surges when an Aether Path begins in an area. Demons in this RPG are ranked into various hierarchies, and the higher ranked the demon, the more powerful they are. There are some unifying rules of all demons, however. For example, they hold night to be sacred, and may only gain sustenance by feeding upon emotions which they cannot feel. Fear, Pain, hate, anxiety, sadness, these are among the emotions which demons subsist upon. Demons will not actively seek to kill people for this reason. However, it is a consequence that in their hunts for these emotions, demons may end up killing humans. For this reason, there is a threat of death in this RPG.
Death will be handled in such a way that I think is fair. The rule essentially is to not do anything stupid. Now of course that’s subjective. However, bear in mind that at least at the beginning we will be playing normal humans. If an average human attempts to rush into a fight against a twelve-foot tall demon with axes for arms and all manner of supernatural powers, I would expect that player not be completely bewildered when their character is killed in this fight. However, to be fair, I am including a type of “status” measure for characters. Essentially, this will only come into play in a life-or-death situation. I will not OHKO characters without the players permission. However, if a player’s character is hit by something which would normally kill them, their status will be changed to “CRITICAL”. While in this status, the character should be considered gravely injured. If a character in CRITICAL status does not obtain treatment of some kind within a short amount of time in-game, or they are hit again in a separate post, they will die. Once a character is dead, they cannot come back unless a supernatural power to revive the dead is used. For this reason, I’d think it wise that you have at least two characters ready to be party members, should an unfortunate event befall one of them. (However, I would ask that you only control one active party member at a time, unless there is some reason you think you should control more than that.)
Later on in the RPG, powers will be introduced. These powers are formed by the result of a human becoming the host of a kind of demonic parasite called a Fy. Fy normally cannot communicate with their human hosts and survive off of their host’s emotions as well as the emotions their host inspires in others through the use of their powers. A Fy normally may grant their host three distinct powers, in a sort of leveling mechanic. Oftentimes, when a Fy’s powers level up the host will lose their previous power, though this is not the case with all Fy.
A single human body may host up to three separate Fy in a lifetime. Fy can be taken from other hosts, however taking a Fy from one person and giving it to someone who already has a Fy will result in the former Fy disappearing completely.
Finally, I will be awarding Achievement Points throughout the RPG for various accomplishments. If you roleplay in-character well, perform in ways which are new and exciting, or in general do well within the city, you will receive points which (while not made public), will be sent to each of the players via PM to keep track of. Points can be spent on various attributes for your character. These are listed below, and the attributes can be found in more detail in the character sheet:
New talent point: Number of point*2 = points required
Level-up Fy: 100 points
Level-up Directional Sensibility by one: 5 points
Blaze: 20 points. (Blaze is a special ability which can only be used when the character is in CRITICAL. Activating Blaze allows the character to gain a sudden surge of strength for up to one minute before promptly dying. If a character is killed after activating Blaze, they may transfer any remaining Achievement Points to their next character.
---Clause of Leadership---
All of my decisions on the game may be contested. If you feel that I have killed your character unfairly or the section that is being played out needs to stop, or needs to keep going, or any other questions of how the game is progressing, being run, etc. You may argue your case to me and we’ll see if we can come to a compromise. There are a few things in the game which I am very reluctant to back down on, like over-all structure, and presence of Fy powers. However I am willing to compromise if the players feel a particular aspect is too unfair in its current structure. For this reason, even if we fail to come to a compromise in a PM, you may put your motion to vote in the OOC and if a majority rules in favor of your decision it will take place.
and now, for the most basic character sheet, pertaining to members of the Beltane Family
Age: (No younger than 18 unless you confirm it with me first)
Birthday: (When is it? Your character might get something on it)
Hometown: (Where does your character come from?)
Clothes: (Your character starts out with three sets of clothes. Hot (for hot weather), Cold (for cold weather), and Business)
Personality: (What makes your character tick? What kind of person are they?)
Relations: (While not common, I do not wish to say that these Family members are incapable of being loved. List any close family members or friends they have outside of the Beltane Family. Also, you may go and edit this to include members of the Beltane Family who your character particularly likes and works well with, though I do also request that you include some people who your character does not like in the group.)
Ambitions: (What does your character seek to do, to accomplish, to make themselves known by?)
Appearance: (What does your character actually physically look like?)
Likes: (what are some things your character likes)
Dislikes: (Some things your character would rather do without)
Fears: (What does your character fear? Note: you will be expected to behave irrationally around your fears, treat them as if your character is actually afraid of them.)
Trinkets: (What objects does your character tend to carry around with them? This is limited by holding space and common sense.)
Money: (Between 0 and 200 dollars. This is the money you are going to be starting out with. You can earn money by doing jobs or lose money by purchasing things. On average days in the city, your character will lose 25 dollars daily from normal expenditures unless you expressly state that they will forage, in which case a d20 will be rolled against their foraging skill to determine success.)
Foraging Skill: (All characters start with a 10 in foraging, you may also spend talent points in foraging skill to bring it to a maximum of 20.)
Directional Sensibility: (All characters start with 14 points in this area. I am currently working alongside Khanman to provide a comprehensive street map of Samhain. The current estimates I have show the map being divided up into 56 squares which encompass the land area of Samhain. This skill is your gauge of how familiar your character is with the area. While the map is still being worked on, this skill will have no effect on anything, but when the map is accomplished you will select a number of squares equivalent to your characters DS points on the map. While in these areas your character cannot become lost. When entering a square which your character is not familiar with, however, you will be unable to immediately direct yourself to a particular location within the square. A DS score of 56 means that your character has a comprehensive knowledge of Samhain and cannot become lost while in the city, ((Subway system excluded)).)
Background/Circumstances: (Give your character some background here. Tell us how they got to Samhain, what their family life was like, where they’ve been in life and how it has influenced them.)
Powers: (These will appear later.)
Talents: (Talent points are equal at the beginning to your characters age, use these points to distribute among different talents you can come up with. Talents can be anything from ‘good with animals’ to ‘obscure trivia of Family Matters’ to ‘Squirrel Wrangling’. The only stipulation is that you should have nothing that would be completely out of place for a modern setting, such as ‘Naginata mastery’ or anything that your character probably would be using to have a full-time job and a good life like ‘financial expertise’ or ‘neurosurgery’. You may spend up to five points in any talent, meaning you are a complete master in that field. As I said before, you may add however many talents you wish, but here is the catch. Whatever talents you have will also show up on everyone else’s character sheet. Meaning they must also spend points in that talent if they wish to use it to some degree as well. This works retroactively too. Successes at these rolls will be determined using a d6. If your character has 0 points in a talent, they will immediately fail the roll unless accompanied by someone with a higher number in said talent, in which case that persons talent is rolled instead. If they have a 1 in the talent, they will need to roll a 6 for a success, and so on and so forth until the player achieves a 6 in a talent, meaning they will always succeed.)
0 points in talent: (complete novice. you may be able to do it if guided)
1 point in talent: (amateur. You are about as competent in the talent as someone who is starting)
2 points in talent: (average. You are decent at this talent and can do some improvisation to apply it to other fields)
3 points in talent: (above average. You are well-versed and can accomplish your talent easily)
4 points in talent: (professional. You can improvise your talent well and are good at applying it wherever possible)
5 points in talent: (Master. You are a master of your talent)
6 points in talent (Supernatural Mastery. This is only obtainable when a character has demonic powers imbued into them. This character will never fail at said talent.*)
Here’s an example of how talent points are distributed.
Let's say I make a character who is 20 years old. This gives them 20 talent points. Now let's say I make up five categories and put four points into each one for this character.
A: 4 pts.
B: 4 pts
Then I'll make another character, who is also 20 years old. However, for him I also invent some new categories, in addition to the ones my first character introduced. His points might be distributed thusly:
Now, I would go back and alter Character 1's profile so as to include the changes introduced by Character 2, and it would look like this.
A final clause regarding supernatural talents: if a character confronts someone that has a talent that directly and equally opposes the talent used, a coin will be flipped to determine who wins out in the conflict.
Finally, you may answer anything else you wish about your character. Favorite Ice cream, Favorite food, movies, colors, etc. Any survey you go to the trouble of answering for your character I will go to the trouble of incorporating the information in somehow.
I hope we all have a good time, welcome to Samhain and to "A Metal Abstraction"