Early Vanishi background and choices brainstorm

Now, time to explore the character progression model for Boneeaters.  I’m going to start with the idea of using OCEAN as I had previously blogged about and also if the reader had selected Vanishi.  So, let’s create a rough and dirty (start to a) plotline for the Vanishi backstory.  This would be one of several chapters to take her from childhood to the landing in Chapter 1.  The idea would be to do this for all 4 possible protagonists and have the reader direct the creation of the character profile.

Chapter 2: The Needs of the Few

Vanishi as a young person, twelve-ish, in her colony on the planet Valkyrie.  She is a member of the Shra family and carries an emblem around her neck to identify that.  It is a very powerful object that she often touches to make sure she feels safe.

She wanders around a bit, seeing the day-to-day activity of various people and how many are starving. We learn about her family and how they are one of a dozen families that control the planet Valkyrie.  There is no other form of government other than the mob-like family controls.  No laws, no higher authority, completely dog-eat-dog on a planetary scale.  On Valkyrie, the mob is the government. 

While exploring her colony, the reader is presented with a few choices.

Vanishi sees a few children starving and unable to secure any food, she then sees a merchant selling food who is relishing his power over the situation and demanding exorbitant pricing.

DECISION: Feed the Needy?

    Confront the merchant and demand he feeds the children or else face the wrath of the family (show her credentials)
    (consequence) After bullying the merchant, he reluctantly feeds the children and Vanishi also eats while watching the children eat and scowling at those in line and the merchant for ignoring the children’s needs. The merchant is furious at Vanishi, but can’t do anything about it.
    (future story impact) Maybe later in the story, Vanishi chooses to infiltrate the opposite faction, but the merchant sees her and reveals her ruse at just the wrong time?
    Observe this behavior and learn about how people act
    (consequence) Vanishi stays for a few minutes, watching the show and wondering how children without emblems will survive.  Touching her own emblem absently, she realizes that most will not.  Perhaps it is just the law of the jungle.  The merchant notices Vanishi and, after a pause, smiles. Vanishi moves on.
    (future story impact) Maybe later in the story when Vanishi is forming her own network of “trusted” people she taps the merchant to move his station higher and he becomes a loyal soldier?
  3. EAT
    Get some food, it’s going to be a long day.
    (consequence) Vanishi steps up to the merchant, disrupting the line, shows her creds, takes some food, and eats it while walking away.  The concerns of the peons aren’t really Shra concerns, after all, there are bigger things to worry about.
    (future story impact) This choice would not garner any reaction from the merchant, so neither an enemy nor a loyalist.  Perhaps this path has Vanishi forming a much smaller/tighter network of “trusted” people as she is more inclined to trust nobody.

Vanish walks a bit further along and we see a space elevator in the distance, a Shra heavily guarded camp on the left, and a dark pathway to the right.  In video game fashion, we can then opt to choose different story paths here.  You could show Vanishi pondering which thing to do, and you pick one.  Even though it looks like an inconsequential choice, we could have some values attributed to Vanishi based on the pick.  Maybe one is more curious than the others, one is more dangerous, etc.

Vanishi looks towards the space elevator and thinks how angry she is that they lost that precious resource, it is the cause of the food shortage.  She looks left at the camp and wonders what the hell the Shra leaders are planning to do about it.  She looks right at the pathway and thinks maybe I leave this be and head out for a while?

DECISION: Pick Chapter 3

    Head out to investigate the lost space elevator.
    Go see what Shra leaders are going to do about it.
    Move on, this situation is still in the festering (aka boring) stage, let’s have some fun.

Although seemingly inconsequential, these decisions are pretty key to forming Vanishi’s experiences.  She wouldn’t even find the spy if not picking the Space Elevator.  Maybe picking the Shra Basecamp she learns how to move up in the Shra ranks faster?  Maybe Exit Stage Left impacts Vanishi’s options much later in the story as she is less confrontational and aggressive.

Chapter 3[A] – The Spy

[This chapter plays if you picked “Space Elevator” above].

As Vanishi continues exploring around, she ends up at a place she can see the space elevator that is a critical resource to delivering food.  Vanishi has been studying those controlling that elevator, it is a rival family, the Lamm family.  In fact, that elevator was Shra’s until a recent attack and this is why much of the Shra colony outpost she lives at is now starving.  There is no natural resource left on the entire planet, all food is provided via the space elevators from the inter-planetary organization known as the Other Worlds Food Initiative (OWFI).

Vanishi pulls out some spiffy spy glasses (sci-fi theme, it floats an inch off her left eye and looks like magical monocles designed after something very old), an expensive luxury that she lifted from some Shra military types a long while ago (and avoided getting caught, she prides herself).  As she watches crate after crate coming down the elevator with OWFI labeling on them.  It is torture to watch them unloading these crates and moving them towards the Lamm family colony.  There has to be a way to make this right.  If not, this outpost will fall and she will have to relocate… again.  And if the Lamm continues to take Shra territory left and right, how long before Shra just collapse?

Determining to learn something to change this situation, Vanishi carefully approaches the space elevator location.  Spotting various Shra hole-ups, and that non-combatants are now vacant from the area, she weaves in the shadows to get close enough to peek on the elevator drop. 

Vanishi watches for a half-hour, as crate after crate unloads, and watches the caravan that ushers them off in the same direction.  She then embarks on following the trail.  She uses the rooftops and carefully slithers around to avoid detection.

She spends an hour slowly following the path of the caravan while avoiding detection.  Finally arriving at a large facility where the crates are heading in.  She scales the building from the top and finds a way inside so she can observe.  She tucks in her medallion absentmindedly preparing in case she is caught.

While inspecting as many of the people in the building she stops short… she recognizes one of the group in charge… it’s a Shra soldier!  A spy!  Vanishi increases the volume of her monocle to listen in.  She then remembers his name, Yerqua, and that he is reasonably high up the family chain.  This is no small fry, this is … bad news.

DECISION: Dealing with the Spy

    Record the event.  Take it back to Shra leadership.
    Follow Yerqua and take him out, bring his medallion back to Shra leadership.
    Murder Yerqua and bring his medallion… to the enemy!

Obviously hugely impactful to the story is how Vanishi deals with the spy.  If she picks Traitor, she could end up in the Lamm family instead of the Shra family which would have huge consequences later in the story.  Maybe Lamm is far less brutal than Shra but more politically savvy?  So, if Vanishi were Shra maybe she is more inclined to be murderous while if in Lamm more inclined to plot a longer game of domination.

Ok, that’s pretty rough (beginning to) plotlines, but it’s enough to explore the concept of player choice and modeling the game.  I do note that I don’t have any choices above, as all are decisions with specific future impacts that I need to track. That’s interesting and I need to dig into more examples of choices and OCEAN scores.