Monday, December 27, 2004

D & D !

I've been reading my new DM's guide, and I'm putting together my first campaign. It's gonna be awesome. It's about transdimensional pirates. Well, actually, it's about regular pirates who will end up trapped on another plane - one entirely of my own design. They adventure with go through several planes - some modified from existing D & D cosmology, and some entirely new. WIth new planes you literally get to change all the rules - time, the laws of physics, it's all mutable. Plus a little thing called Wild Magic...
It's sort of like D & D meets Sliders - probably a lot like that, since both change casts several times throughout their run. Anyway, I've got lots of ideas. All I need is a good group - either my current one when we finish Paul's campaign or a new group of people.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Revival - Chapter 6: Digesting the information.

My initial reaction was just sort of a numb shock. I didn't say anything. I just kind of stared at the picture, wishing it wasn't there. At first it was just the shock of discovering that my Mother was a criminal. Then I realized it also meant she was probably alive. It hadn't yet sunk in that if my mother had dragon blood, I, by extension, also had it. I was taking it one step at a time.
"You ok?" asked Mora.
"Fine," I said, "I'm fine," I didn't want it to get out that my mother was in prison, or that she was a Draconic - they weren't exactly loved by the public right now, what with DOMA and all. Still, I wanted a closer look.
"Can I have a copy of this?" I asked.
"Sure," she answered, "I can get another. I saved it all on to a disc. Why do you want one?"
I am terrible at impromptu lying. I tried to think of a convincing reason, but my imagination failed me. So I told a modified version of the truth.
"She looks familiar," I said, "We might be related, I'd like to find out,"
"If you're related, that'd make you part dragon, wouldn't it?" Mora said, "That'd be sweet!"
That's when it hit me. I was part dragon. If this got out, it could ruin me. Being a white male, I didn't have much experience being discriminated against, and I wasn't eager for that to change. People don't like Draconics. It could keep me out of colleges, work places, any government job... it was just a terrifying prospect to me at the time.
"What do you mean sweet?" I asked. "People hating you, not letting you do things because of something you have no control over, why would that be cool?!"
"Because," answered Mora, "You'd be able to shape change and burn people's houses down if they mistreated you. Despite what some baptist's say, gay people can't do that,"
"Only if I actually go Draconic!" I answered.
"And why wouldn't you?" she asked, "I mean, if you were gonna get the bad part anyway, why not get the benefit's too?"
"Because they put you in Jail!" I answered, "Yes, being a half-dragon sucks, but all they can do is discriminate against you in small places. If you go Draconic, you don't even need to commit a crime. You have no rights,"
"You don't think being able to fly and breathe fire is worth the persecution?" She asked.
"Not really," I answered truthfully.
"Well, all I know is liking women gets me what half-dragons get - all the discrimination with none of the super-powers - and it's not worth it. If I had a choice, I'd take being a Draconic any day,"
"It doesn't matter," I lied. "We're probably not related anyway,"
"Too bad," she answered.
I went back to looking at he paper. There wasn't a huge amount of information on my mother. Her classification was listed as silver. Height: 5' 8 (human); 6'6 (draconic), Weight: 140.
Member of the influential Brimmer family. Married, two children. Suspected leader of the Northern regional cell of the MFA. Has been involved in at least two robberies and one assasination. Currently being held at the Camelot facility.
I desperately wanted to be able to click on that link. My mother, a cell leader for the MFA? Why had this been kept from me? I wanted to find out. I thought about asking my father, but I didn't know how he'd react. There was really only one person I could trust with this, and I decided to try and get in touch with her when I got home.
Just then Zhong approached us, having somehow escaped her side of the cafeteria. That was good. I needed a distraction.
"Zhong!" I called. She looked startled, then saw me and wandered over.
"We need to use your house for plotting," I said, "Is that cool?"
"Tonight?" she asked, "No. My parents are entertaining guests. Some of my dad's investors, very important. Tomorrow good?"
"It'll do," I answered.
"Is that your mother?" asked Zhong, pointing to the papers.
Zhong had been to my house enough times to have seen the pictures, and she had a notoriously photographic memory. So much for keeping this secret. I had to try though.
"No, the resemblance is striking, though, isn't it?" I lied.
"Yes," answered Zhong sarcastically, taking the paper, "And with the same name, too. How unlikely is that?"
"Wait a minute," said Mora, "Your mother? So we weren't talking hypotheticals a minute ago! You're actually a -"
"Shut up!" I said. I lowered my voice, "Guys, seriously, we have to keep this low profile. If it get's out, it could ruin my chances of getting into a good college or getting a good job. I could end up in prison. This isn't a joke,"
"Your secret's safe with me," said Mora, "But I would so start trying to develop your powers,"
"No," I said.
"What a waste," she answered.
"Is this what we're plotting about?" asked Zhong.
"No. It's just something silly. But I'd prefer you not tell anyone about this - even Jason and Fay. Is that alright?" I asked hopefully.
"Don't worry," said Zhong, "I'm good at keeping secrets. I've been holding on to some for years now,"
"Good," I answered, "I need time to figure this out. It might not even be real,"
"Ok," answered Zhong. "I'll see you tomorrow then, no?"
"Yeah," I answered, "See you then."
The bell rang, and we got up to leave. All the way home I went over all this in my head - what I'd do when they came for me, why they hadn't already - I mean they had have my name in a book somewhere, didn't they? I wonderted if I could really trust Mora. And I wondered if my mother really was still alive in some cell somewhere. I didn't know where the answers to these questions were, but I knew where I was going to start looking. I decided to put it out of my head for a while and think about stealing a motorcycle.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Revival - Chapter 5: A familiar face

The first step of planning the heist was, of course, planning how to plan the heist. Jason and Fay's house, our favored spot for scheming, was also the home of those against whom we were scheming, and therefore unusable. My house was a terrible scheming spot, namely due to a lack of good food. Scheming just isn't the same with out Root Beer and Cheetos. We resolved to ask Zhong about it next time one of us saw her, shrimp chips being an acceptable ethnic alternative to the Cheetos. That was really all we had time to resolve before the lunch bell rang.
My next period was study hall with Mora. Zhong was confined to the other side of the cafeteria by evil Nazi woman, but occasionally managed to wander over on false pretenses. Today Mora was pouring over a rather large document she'd printed off the internet.
"What's that?" I asked, with the sort of half- interest I reserved for my dealings with Mora.
"My friend hacked these from the FBI site," she answered. She was probably lying, but I thought I'd indulge her. "They're records of all the known Draconics and half-dragons with ties to the twin cities area," She looked at it for a minute. "A through I," she added.
"Cool," I said.
"Yeah, theres a lot more than you'd think. Let's see..." she started reading, "Name: Thadius Hawkins. Status: Missing, presumed dead. Last seen October 23rd, 2002. Classification: Blue. You know how these work?"
"How what work?"
"Classifications. See, there are a bunch of different kinds of Draconics, each with different powers and skills. It's all super classified but I've figured out some stuff. Black is the least dangerous. The most dangerous is either gold or silver, I think. You generally don't want to cross any that are metallic sounding, though,"
"What's the difference?" I asked. I was actually somewhat interested at this point.
"Oh, you know," she answered. "Size, power, if they can fly, if they can breath fire or anything, that kinda stuff. Some types also tend to folow weird codes,"
"Like what?" I asked.
"Well, the Asian ones follow some kinda code of honor, and the European ones don't have anything like that. They think of themselves like Samurai or something. I don't know much about it,"
"Samurai are Japanese," I said. "Dragons are Chinese,"
"Whatever," she answered, then went back to reading.
She read in silence for a while, then looked up.
"Hey," she said, "Brimmer. Any relation?"
She held up the picture. The last time I'd seen that face in person I was three months old, but I'd memorized the picture. The text confirmed it. Name: Lisa Brimmer. Status: Captured, January 13th, 1989.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Revival - Chapter 4: Harvey

Ok, perhaps I should explain about Harvey. Jason and Fay's grandparents, Samuel and Samantha Anderson (people called them Sammy & Sammy), were a little bit crazy. When they were in their late sixties, about eleven years ago, Sam found out he had a brain tumor and was going to die in a few months. So he decided, since he had nothing to lose, he would go on a motorcycle trip zig-zagging across the entire U.S., visiting every state along the way. Sammy decided she would go with him - it would be like a second honey moon. So they went off for their last hurrah. Along the way they sent fifty post cards to their grandkids - Fay keeps them all in a little box. I've read them. They're very funny. Sam was quite the character. In them he refers to the motorcycle as "Harvey" - Harvey the Harley.
He died two days after he got home. About two years ago, Sammy died. In her will she left "Harvey" to Jason and Fay. They were thrilled to hear this - their parents were less enthusiastic. They said the thing was a death trap, and neither of their children was getting on it. After months of convincing, they finally conceded to let Jason take classes and get a motorcycle license. For a while he drove Harvey around and he was happy. Then one day he very nearly got in a fatal accident. His parents locked up Harvey and forbid him to ride it again until he was eighteen.
Jason had talked about stealing Harvey many times since then, but he had never worked up the guts to actually do it. I figured this time would be the same. I was wrong.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Revival - Chapter 3: All's fair in Love and War

As close as they were, Jason and Fay were about as different as a brother and sister can be. Jason was a few inches taller than me and fairly well-built, but liked to make himself as small as possible. Fay, a diminutive 4'10", filled the room with her personality. She flirted incessantly with everyone, but had no desire for a boyfriend (or a girlfriend for that matter, though people did talk). I've never met anyone more confident in their own attractiveness - which made her all the more attractive. I never really felt that way about her, but I can't say I never thought about it.
Jason, on the other hand, had until a few months ago had trouble talking to anyone he didn't know. He seemed to have gotten over that and was now hopelessly trying to romance a very attractive young woman with whom he had no chance whatsoever. What was amusing was the zeal he put into it. It was as if instead of creeping out of his shell like most shy people do, he had done a complete one-eighty into being a vibrant dynamic personality. He had lost all inhibitions and no longer cared what anyone thought about him. So far in his quest to win her heart had had tried everything from making her a new origami animal every day for a month to writing a song in four part harmony and mustering a quartet to sing outside her window. The girl, her name was Marissa, was either incredibly dense or just had a cruel sense of humor- she appeared to be totally oblivious.
Anyway, Fay and Jason were already sitting at the lunch table when I got my tray. Jason was looking, as always, across the table to where Marissa was sitting talking to her friends.
"How's it going?" I asked him
He sighed plaintively. "Nothing's working," he said eventually, "I've tried gifts, singing, quoting the Bard... even baking cookies. No luck,"
"Everything short of, you know, asking her out," answered his sister.
"Not my style," he answered, "I mean, eventually, of course, but first I have to win her over. She'd never say yes now,"
"How do you know if you haven't tried?" I asked.
"If I try and she says no," he explained, "I'll have to try again later, and asking for a second date after you've been rejected is just pathetic,"
"And following her down the hallway reading sonnets isn't?" asked Fay.
"I should go on a quest for her," said Jason suddenly, ignoring his sister, "Too bad there's no more dragons to slay,"
"Half-Dragons?" I suggested.
"Look," Fay cut in, "Jason, here's your problem. Well, one of many problems. Every attempt you've made has been anywhere from a few decades to a few centuries out of date. If you want a quest that will impress her, you need something modern,"
"That's it!" cried Jason suddenly, as if an idea had coming flying from the sky like a meteor and hit him in the back of the head, "I'm going to steal Harvey!"

Physical and mental models

When I write, I like to be able to envision things as they happen. To do that, I usually have to have a clear idea of what a character looks like. So when I invent a character, I like to have to models for him or her - a physical model and a mental model. They have nothing to do with each other. For instance, Jason and Fay Anderson, characters you're going to meet soon, are physically modeled off of Marten and Lara (with some minor changes, like red hair). Their personalities, however, are a mix of Paul and Marten, but mostly Tyler for Jason and a mix of Katie O'brien and Catie Phillabaum for Fay. Skyler has curly hair, but looks sort of like me otherwise. His personality is mostly mine, since he is the narrator. Mora is modeled off of Amanda Turner in some ways, but her personality isn't coming out how I wanted. The rest of the key characters are still abstract and will likely remain so for some time. This is in lieu of an update - I won't publish it until it's good enough, and this one clearly needs something, so bear with me. In a couple of days maybe.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Revival - Chapter 2: My Life Before

Aside from a few isolated events that were lost on me at the time, the trouble really started when I was 16. The year was 2004, and President Chaparral had just been reelected. Most Americans pointed to DOMA, the Dissipation of Magic Act, as the main reason they elected him. With the Republicans pushing to amend the constitution to allow them to lock up suspected part-dragons and other semi-magical creatures, as well as cutting off government funding to arcane research, anti-magic sentiment was polarizing the nation.
I personally didn't care much either way. As far as I knew I didn't know any part-humans, and there were so few left I thought the whole thing was blown way out of proportion. We needed to have elected a president based on bigger issues, like the brewing war in China. But really politics weren't much more than a hobby for me then, I was just trying to get through school and learn to drive.
My constant companions throughout high school were Jason Anderson and his little sister, Fay. Jason was my age, Fay was a year younger, and the three of us were inseperable. I probably spent as much if not more time at the Anderson home as I did at my own. The fourth member of our little quartet was Fay's best friend, Zhong Hua. Her parents had moved here from China before the first war. I had acquaintances besides these three, but none were close friends, with one possible exception who I'll get to in a minute. For the most part I was happy, though I struggled a little with the things all teenagers do - schoolwork, relationships, stuff that seems important at the time - until you find out what important really means.
The only other person I spent any amount of time with was a girl by the name of Mora Bridges. We met because we were seated in study hall together, the seating arrangments being alphabetical. Mora was the ultimate non-conformist, which made her an interesting person to be around. At first glance she looked like the classic, angsty lesbian goth girl. But beyond that first impression was a much deeper personality, something I discovered as we had plenty of time to talk in study hall. She was interested in various occult things - on a purely scholarly level, of course, I doubt she really believed all of it, though it was hard to say sometimes. But she'd show me things in books, and through her I learned a lot of seemingly useless trivia about the Arcane age.
Now as most of you probably know, there's a huge amount of controversy over the historical accuracy of accounts of the Arcane age. Scores of Christians have tried to revise history to eliminate magic altogether, with some degree of success. Lots of respectable people believe Elves were nothing more than exagerations of stories told by aristocracies to inspire respect and awe, or that Orcs were an earlier stage of human evolution. Mora believed that both sides were revising history - that Elves, rather than the imposing overlords history made them out to be, had been an enlightened, benevolent race who had helped humans get to where they were today, and that Conner Macer was a mass-murderer rather than the savior of the human race, and that he meant for the Vampires to go bad. I didn't believe a word of it - I mean how could anyone? - but arguing with Mora was thoroughly pointless, so I mostly just nodded and listened to her far-flung conspiracy theories with feigned interest. If I known what I know now, I probably would have paid more attention.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Revival - Chapter 1: Skyler Woods Brimmer

Where does a story begin? Aside from the creation narrative in the Bible, no story really starts where the narrative does - they tend to have at least a little background. Even if a story begins with the birth of the main character, there are still older characters whose early life and background will be alluded to, and thus an earlier part of the story remains untold. My story begins more than ten thousand years before I was born - but I'm a little sketchy on the details of that part. So I'm going to start at the earliest part where I can have some degree of accuracy, about a hundred and seventy years ago.
In 1856 in the town of Riverview, Indiana, population two hundred some, a stranger showed up. His name was Skyler Woods Brimmer. Skyler had no parents, and no family history to speak of - he said he was found by his mother on her doorstep when he was a baby. The woman who had raised him, he maintained, had lived alone, and she had just died, so he had come to Riverview to seek his fortune. Of course, none of this was true, but they had no reason to doubt it, so they all believed him. Hoosiers are simple folk, not used to deception, and ready to accept anyone who's willing to work hard and support themselves.
Skyler was well-liked by all of his neighbors, and set about making a life for himself. Four or five years later he got married. His wife was pregnant with his first son when the war broke out. Most of the men in the town signed up to fight on one side or the other, but Skyler had no desire to fight. Pressured by his friends, though, he eventually gave in. He fought with distinction but was put on the front lines at the battle of Shiloh. As his body was never recovered, he was proclaimed MIA, but his wife pretty much gave up hope when she heard the news. She named the boy Skyler Woods Brimmer Jr.
The second Skyler Woods Brimmer lived a fairly normal life, had two sons and three daughters, though what befell his daughters is information I've been unable to acquire. His second son died in a fire at the age of fourteen, His first son he named Skyler Woods Brimmer III, and the name has been passed down ever since. Interestingly enough, only one male heir from each generation has survived - any boys not named Skyler Woods tended to perish at an early age. In 1955, Skyler Woods Brimmer V gave birth to a daughter, Lisa Brimmer, my mother. Number five had the unfortunate distinction of being the first not to bear a son to carry on the name, though he did have three daughters. He was rather distraught about this fact most of his life, and it was his dying wish that Lisa name her son Skyler Woods Brimmer.
In 1983 Lisa married Wallace Tamsworth, a funeral parlor owner from Minnesota. When she married him, she insisted that their first son be named after her father, to honor his wishes. He found her obsession a little eccentric, but he was in love with her, so he agreed. They first gave birth to a daughter, my sister Katherine Tamsworth, and then 3 years later to me, Skyler Woods Brimmer VI. Three months later my mother disappeared. My father remarried a few years later, but it left me in the difficult position of being the only member of my family with my last name. Even more difficult when I learned the import of that name.
Skyler Woods Brimmer the first was no ordinary man. He passed on certain... talents to his descendants, and with them a name both famous and infamous in circles most people don't even know exist. I would discover all this eventually. But at the time, all it was was a long, cumbersome name, inherited from a woman I never got a chance to meet. I was an ordinary kid, with an ordinary life. But all that was about to change.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Muse Strikes Back

Funny about muses - they don't care about schedules. Mine is especially inconsiderate - she waits until I have two papers, a Physics study guide, a virtual fieldtrip, and armfuls of music to learn for choir, not to mention two half-way decent stories already going, to drop what may prove the greatest story idea I ever get in my lap. It's horribly complex, drawn from such diverse influences as D & D, Harry Potter, X-men, and Buffy. But it's so good. And it's evolving very quickly. So just a warning - I'm probably going to drop the pixie story for a little while to pick this up. After that I'll try and run the two concurrently for a while. I think the setting and pacing of this story is sufficiently different from that one that it will work.
The idea is difficult to put into just a few words, but the best word to describe it is epic. It's a bizarre take on magic and a number of fantasy ideas, set in what's basically the here and now, only... different. Sort of like the world of Jasper Fforde in the Thursday Next series, just in as much as it's our world, if- (insert hypotheticals here). But everything else is in tact. Basically, just real enough that people can relate to it, while being out there enough that people go "wow, this is really different," I don't know how to better explain it. The hypothetical in question involves half-dragons. This story will possibly start this weekend, and will jump right into the narrative with minimal exposition, probably less than I usually have.

P.S. I already have a working title!