Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Little About Roger Whirm: Mysterious Man of Lud

In the spring, before the Golden Fall, 109 helped Byra search Lud up and down for her secret entrance. Since Lud was so large and magnificent to them, every day they discovered something new. On the day that 109 met Corey and Jake at the lake, they also discovered a run-down and overgrown shack built into the roots of a large tree just out of sight of the lake.

The shack hadn't been lived in for years, and most of it wasn't even intact any longer. The years and weather had made ceilings cave in, the door no longer stood on it's hinges, and the floor was covered in dirt and weeds poking through the warped and rotting boards. The only thing they found inside, apart from a few pieces of ruined furniture and a moth-eaten bed, was a desk filled with notes and papers.

They couldn't make heads or tales of the chicken scratch and diagrams drawn on the papers, but they were able to discern that the drawings were portals of some kind. At the time, irrelevant to their search, and thusly put out of their minds.

Months later, as Byra led the three out of Zolo's tomb riding on her summoned bird, Livius' back, they all received a vision of a silhouetted old man standing in that shack, telling them that when they needed him, he would be there.

That old man was Roger Whirm.


Roger grew up on Lud with his brother, William. At an early age, the two discovered and became fascinated with the concept of the gifted. Throughout their childhood, the two would fantasize about being gifted, pretending that they could do some of the incredible things the sometimes god-like creatures could pull off. Moving mountains, controlling the sea, fighting with beams of pure energy, and fighting the forces of evil were a natural part of their innocence-driven games.

Their obsession did not fade as they grew into their teens. The two began to work very hard to understand the gifted condition. What created gifted? What determined their powers? What was their purpose? They never found any answers to these questions, of course. Their research was still a product of boyhood dreams. They partly knew this, but were still determined to expand their understanding. The two got jobs and worked even harder, saving their money to further their research.

Eventually, Roger and William grew out of their teens and used their hard-earned money to buy a small workshop on the edge of the city. They used this as a base-of-operations to attempt to do everything from learning the answers to their burning questions, to even replicating some of the fantastical gifts themselves. At a young age, the two had determined that one of the most powerful and useful gifts thinkable was teleportation. They had decided that the ability to instantly travel from one point to another - even across worlds - was the gateway to wonderful power. So, naturally, that was the focus of their experiments.

After decades of trial and error, tears, sweat and blood, they were eventually successful. Roger and William perfected teleportation. They were finally gifted. Their work was finally perfected, and they were on top of the world - until the Alon arrived on Lud for the first time.

Roger and William both read and researched much on the Alon. They knew the danger and threat the Alon posed, and for the first time in their lives, they disagreed on what to do.

Roger, being the rational and logical of the two decided to turn himself in. He knew that the Alon had measures in place to not only track down gifted - even ones that could teleport - but stop them. William, on the other hand, was the proactive and headstrong one. He decided to flee. He was not successful.

Roger never found out what happened to his brother after the Alon caught him, but he assumed the worst. Following through with his instincts, Roger turned himself over to the Alon without a fight. The Alon took him happily enough, and did exactly what they promised: they 'cured' him of his 'condition'.

When the Alon were sure that they had removed the threat his 'curse' posed, they sent him back home. Old, broken, and his childhood dreams realized, then destroyed, Roger sold his and his brother's shop and left his memories behind, taking to life outside of the eyes of society. After that, he disappeared.

Unrelated to this post, here's Rad. Again, credit for the pic goes to Joe Bags.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lud: Part Four

"Come look at the giant birdies in the sky!" Gasha cried out as she burst into the room, putting an end to the long discussion being had about what to do about the situation on Lud. Everybody's heart sank to the bottom of their stomach as the small crowd that had gathered in Gog's small workshop followed her outside to see what they had already suspected.

The Alon were descending on the once-safe island of Lud.


The Alon invaded Lud with a military precision. They landed on the once-populated marketplace that served as Lud's docking platform. After clearing it away and commandeering a couple nearby apartment buildings, they erected a massive wall, complete with sentries and gates, around the area and transformed the white-cobble common into a makeshift port. They then evacuated the residents from the apartments and began shuttling them off the island to the safety of the mainland far away.

Once clear, the Alon transferred the apartments into a temporary refugee camp and processing center. They then systematically sent out word to the entire island, requesting any and all innocents to report to the gate for processing and evacuation of the once-beautiful island. They also sent an offer: that any 'cursed' willing to do so to turn themselves in without a fight so that they could be properly treated and cured of their 'conditions' peacefully.

Within a week, the Alon had successfully cleared out the city.


Flynn Triune and his father had settled on Lud a month before it departed that past summer. His father opened a little tea shop at the base of one of Lud's massive skyscrapers. Naturally, business boomed with tourist traffic over the course of Lud's journey across the sea. That is, until the golden leaves turned red.

Being newcomers to Lud, the two didn't really believe in the crazy superstitions about an omen or worse. Of course, their customers weren't so rational. For the next couple of months, business dwindled to a trickle and eventually stopped altogether when the streets were no longer safe. Flynn's father closed his shop and settled in for a long winter.

Then the Alon came.

Still terrified that his son would be taken away, Flynn's father formulated a plan to get them off of Lud. He had heard that innocent people were being taken out of the city and to safety. Since Flynn appeared a normal Cooreinian, his father thought that they would surely be able to sneak past the gate. He was wrong.

When they got to the massive, crowded gate, they found that the Alon had a series of checkpoints with a dozen different scanning and testing procedures in place to detect 'cursed' from slipping past. It came as no surprise to Flynn that one of their scanners picked up on his powers. Naturally reacting with fear, Flynn attempted to flee with his father. The Alon, however, were well prepared to stop him and easily separated him from his father.

Though the odds were against him, Flynn managed to escape thanks to the help of Gasha and Byra who had been scouting the Alon camp and saw the breakout attempt. Thanks to Gasha's intricate knowledge of the treetops and shortcuts through the city, they were able to escape to Gog's place undetected.


By the time the city was completely deserted save for Alon patrols, 109 decided that staying at Gog's workshop was suicide. Once clear of civilians, the Alon had began to forcefully search every building in the city. It was only a matter of time before they found their safe-haven. And so, undercover of a night-time snow storm, 109 and the rest packed up all their belongings and fled underground to Zolo's cave.

The following weeks were long, stretched on by the bitter cold brought from the cave and the fear of ever being found out. Rad was able to build everybody a tent and had begun working on a contraption that would simultaneously protect the cave from the Alon while allowing 109 safe passage up and down the river without Byra's help. The entire group also began planning how exactly they were going to escape Lud for good.

Meanwhile, Adriana, Flynn and Gasha set out to find Kintaro, hoping to bring him into hiding as well. When the finally found him, he was near death. Somehow, he had suffered a devastating wound in a fight (either against Hade or, more likely, against the Alon) and had escaped to his home. Fortunately, they were able to save him.

During his recovery, Kintaro continued to watch -with his gifted eyes- the gifted of Lud suffer and die at the hands of the Alon. When he had recovered enough, he attempted to leave, explaining that it was driving him mad to stay in hiding while so many died and fell. 109, however, coerced him into staying, knowing that if he left, he would surely die and could endanger their hiding spot as well.


Eventually, they came up with a plan to build several gliders and rafts to literally fly away from Lud and sail the ocean far away from the Alon. And as Rad began crafting the gliders, another obstacle presented itself when Gog fell ill.

Putting his project on hold, Flynn and Rad went to the surface and to Gog's workshop to retrieve some medicine. As fate would have it, the Alon had picked that day to investigate the shop. They entered the building while Rad and Flynn were inside and discovered the machine that had been hiding the gifted presence. Flynn and Rad had to fight their way out. Rad feared that if they shut down the machine, their location would be found out.

To make matters even worse, inspired by Kintaro's devotion, Corey and Jake, left the cave to attempt to help whoever was left on Lud. Kintaro and 109 set out to bring them back. In order to cover more ground, they split up. Kintaro went alone, telling them that after the children were found and safe, he wasn't going to return to the cave. Eventually, Rad, Flynn, Adriana and Wade found the twins, and of course, so did an Alon patrol. 109 sprung into action in attempt to save the children.

The fight was brutal, and truly revealed to 109 the immense danger that the Alon posed to gifted. Each Alon soldier was built like a swiss-army-knife, containing a number of weapons and defenses specifically designed to fight off common types of gifted. And, as they tragically found out, one soldier was equipped with a mortar-like weapon that fired water-evaporating grenades. A direct hit to Jake sucked out all moisture in his body and killed him.

Enraged, Corey's gifts evolved before everybody's eyes and he transformed into some kind of sea-creature/human hybrid and devastated the Alon soldier responsible. he then fled the battlefield and escaped into the city, leaving 109 to finish the fight with the Alon patrol.

Though they won the fight, 109 still felt defeated and more desperate than ever. They gave up the search for Corey and took Jake's body down to the cave, intending to lay him in Zolo's tomb.

But of course, fate yet again turned against them while they were there when another Alon patrol descended into the cave through the opening in the crypt. Before 109 could react, the spirits of a hundred animals rose from their graves and destroyed the patrol.

Rad, Adriana, Wade and Flynn never felt so exposed, and they decided ultimately that waiting any longer was simply not an option. They had to leave Lud, or they would die.


The Alon attack on Lud was probably the most tense situation I've ever created in an RP. Like the time just before their arrival, I feel that I was a tad too successful in creating the mood and began to even sense frustration and irritation from my players. Again, a success and a failure all at once, but I learned a lot.

As it's probably obvious, I had wanted to create a very oppressive and desperate situation. The mere fact that they were prepared to risk death at the hands of the freezing sea below in an effort to escape the situation is proof enough to me that I had done exactly that.

Well before Lud, 109 had run into Alon soldiers in spurts, and had wiped the floor with them. At the time, I was hardly concerned with developing a dangerous antagonist with the story and was leaving it up to reputation alone. When it came to Lud, I knew that it wasn't going to work well with simply saying "the Alon are dangerous!!1" and then pitting the gang up against easily defeated enemies. (I can't seem to find that happy medium ^^').

So, I apologize to my players for kind of dragging you around and beating you over the head with hopeless fights, but I promise, it was necessary!

Anyhoose, adding in Flynn was a huge thing for me. For the first two to three years 109 went on, I was determined to exclusively have Penny, James and Chris. After Pen and I moved away and our group dwindled down to the four of us, it was pretty easy to maintain that! Then Joe Bags started coming over too, and for some reason, it felt natural to bring him into 109. So far, I'm very glad I did. Him and his character provide a very good balance to the 109 group.

During the Alon attack, I imagine a great number of exciting stories taking place.

109 never did delve into what exactly happened to Kintaro. I imagine that he got into a massive battle with Hade and the Alon interfered. Kintaro was created as a humorous, goofy character but behind the scenes, he developed into a robust and dynamic character with a complex relationship with Hade. Every time Kintaro captured Hade and put him behind bars, Hade would eventually escape (seriously, he can phaze through walls. How do you contain someone like that?). After a while, they sort of became each others identity. Sort of like a Batman and Joker relationship: one almost can't exist without the other. So when the Alon took Hade (at least, in my mind - it's not set in stone!), Kintaro sort of lost it, and began to try and help his nemesis. He probably wasn't successful.

I also try and think from the Alon's point-of-view. Somehow, they knew that there were a lot of gifted hiding on Lud. They had to do something about it. Of course, you have to remember that the Alon see gifted as uncontrollable monsters and deadly weapons. To them, it was like descending into a powder keg with the fuse lit. At the same time, their honest priority is to protect innocent people and preserve the city of Lud as much as possible (which is why they didn't simply blow it out of the sky). The Alon went in with extreme caution, set up a perimeter that was monitored 24-7, and every precaution taken. They didn't start using direct force until near the end.

The gifted that did turn themselves in (and there were some) were treated as peacefully as possible. The reason they reacted with violence with Flynn was simply because he was trying to sneak his way past them. It's essentially the equivalent of trying to sneak a knife past security at the airport.

By the time Lud was evacuated, the Alon knew that whoever was left was going to try to actively resist. This is why they reacted violently with Jake and Corey. The Alon soldiers saw the two boys and bombs about to detonate. They handled the situation as carefully as they could, and when they were attacked, they instinctively tried to neutralize the threat before they got hurt.


New pic! This one of Wade! Mad props go to Joe Bags for drawing it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Little about Coorei: Swamp Planet of Horrors and Flynn: gifted of Coorei

Coorei is quite possibly the most popular (or at least most infamous) planet in the HFN universe. Originally, the old Happy Force Nine (consisting of Lucky, Ne' Sonya, Kaze and Yoda) traveled there to seek out a component for the wolfen gun. along the way, we've had two PCs and a handful of important NPCs hail from the swampy planet.

When I first created it, I developed the planet itself, but not the primary species. Credit goes to Noel for fleshing the cooreinians out as a people.


Coorei, as mentioned, is a swamp planet, meaning that most of the surface is covered in a thick mire. Massive trees (think redwood forest style) grow out of the marsh everywhere. The surface of the planet is home to hundreds of different extremely dangerous creatures. As such, the sentient species took to living in the trees.

The cooreinians are a race of bipedal lizard-like people. Exotic and powerful, they are by no means helpless - a testament to just how dangerous the creatures living below are. As a result of literally living above a swamp, their hair (yes, they have hair) is most commonly found in dreadlocks. Their immune systems are also very well developed from living on a very unsanitary planet. Though this is good for them, it isn't so good for non-indigenous species, as the cooreinians tend to be walking cesspools of bacteria and disease. Despite their somewhat barbaric appearance, the cooreinians have thrived as well as any other species and have even developed their technology to allow space travel.

During the great war, Coorei was a strong focus for the Alon, and Coorei has been forever scared from the battles that took place there. Some of the most violent and tragic moments of the war took place there where many lost their lives; Alon, Gifted and innocent alike.

In 109's time, the cooreinian people still fear both the Alon as well as gifted for fear that those terrible conflicts would occur again. So when Flynn was revealed to be gifted, his parents took extreme care to hide him. Eventually, Flynn's father heard about a safe haven for gifted: a floating island by the name of Lud. Soon after hearing of the safety the island seemed to give, Flynn and his father left Coorei to start a new life in the beautiful and wondrous city of Lud.


Flynn is Joe Bags' character. He's a teenage Cooreinian who can mutate into a giant beetle-like creature at will, thus making him the tank character of 109. It's also worth noting that Cooreinians have three eyes (which you can't see in the picture).

Picture by Joe Bags