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Daddy Issues

We’re pausing between campaigns to run a one-shot. I’d like to say we’re taking it as a palate-cleanser between grimmer campaigns, and we are, but the primary purpose is to buy Ella a few more weeks from stage-fright and her debut GMing a proper campaign. Also, Dave wanted to try out the FATE engine.

As a one-shot, and a two-fisted pulp adventure at that, we should employ throwaway characters, but I’m having a hard time keeping to the spirit of it all, which feels strange when I’m usually better at caricature than character. My problem is that we’re not simply grabbing characters off a rack; we’ve been asked to play the sons and daughters of the PCs from a previous steampunk-horror campaign, and mine was darker than most. He went mad exploring the hellish mineral Yernevite, which has now, twenty-four years later, become an ominous and worrisome super-fuel for mad inventions in this adventure. (For readers familiar with the Deadlands game: Yernevite is ghost rock with a different label and a green glow.) Officially, he’s a hero of the Russian state though himself a Pole with revolutionary sympathies; unofficially, he’s known nearly to have destroyed the world by chain reaction.

So much for daddy. Junior has inherited a lot of baggage. He’s lost a father at eight (who, in turn, lost his father young in the Krakow Rebellion); he’s struggling to live up to his father’s heroic name but growing suspicious that daddy wasn’t all he’s said to be; he’s grateful for the sponsorship he’s received from a Russian noble involved in the original expedition, but he’s grown suspicious that he’s kept in a gilded cage; he’s also a Pole in a Russian world amid revolutionary currents, but a Pole with a cushy army job. And he’s inherited at least a dose of daddy’s instability, though, denied its natural outlet, he has become a monster-slaying warrior rather than a mad scientist. Appropriately for a pulp hero, he’s a marble man, at or near the peak of physical perfection, young and handsome and polite and well-schooled as officer and gentleman. But the cracks run deep.

That’s more back story elements than I put into most of my characters for full campaigns, and they’re just the stuff mandated by the GM; I could add on another whole layer of who Constanz is in his own right, rather than what he’s inherited from Janos. It seems a terrible waste to blow all those richly conflicting motives on a quickie, but there it is.

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