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OtherSpace: “Warm Impermanence” post mortem

This event represented another effort on my part to take a known trope from science fiction and flip it.

In this case, I was thinking about the premise of Logan’s Run, in which people reach a certain age before answering the call to Carousel, where they’re promptly blown up so that they don’t use any more resources.

In “Warm Impermanence,” I introduced the Hekayti colony world of Ashkodt, settled by descendants of the Konterbeid caste – primarily bureaucrats and fussy organizers. On this world, once every twenty years, a new generation specifically programmed to fill very exact roles is released from a generation management facility in a ceremony known as the Emergence.

Here’s what was set in stone before the event:

* A small grid to provide people with a sense of the place.
* Players would bear witness to the first time something goes wrong and the Emergents rebel.

It’s worth noting that I didn’t base the idea of a new generation turning against their elders on what’s been happening in the Middle East. It really came from a combination of turning the Carousel trope on its head and a David Bowie song, Changes.

Before the first day of the event, I had determined that a Heykati working in the generation management facility would commit sabotage, messing with the programming of the Emergents and causing the crisis. However, this ended up falling flat for me as I let it play out in my mind.

Why? Well, first, it would contradict the cultural brainwashing that I’d tried to establish with the room descriptions. Second, it would relegate the players to just being in the audience for what should be something a little more adventurous. I wanted to give them a chance to be more active and involved.

So, I didn’t know exactly what would happen as players showed up for the event. I took the opportunity of the first night’s shuttle trip to Ashkodt to let the characters become familiar with each other. I also used that as an opportunity to introduce a character of my own to provide some comic relief: A floppy-footed Gankri.

We were about halfway through the flight when I decided who this alien really was.

I’d been wanting to bring back Ferdinand Glengarry Magellan Cottonswill – also known as Vampire – for a long time. Kallyn’s character, a back-from-the-dead human inhabiting the body of an Aukami, was along on this flight. Earlier in the day, I’d made contact on Facebook with the player behind N’Sha-El, who came up with the basic concept of Vampire back in 1998. So, these influences combined to lead me to the decision that Vampire had also died, gone to Necromundus, and now had returned in the form of a Gankri.

Suddenly, the event is about more than a topical premise. At this point, I was well-engaged in the story. It all clicked. I *knew* what was going to happen now.

Vampire has always been an agent of chaos, like Bugs Bunny in a hoverchair. So, of course he would take issue with the idea of an entire culture predicated on the idea of pigeonholing every child into specific destinies. *He* would be among the offworlders who arrived to witness the Emergence. And *he* would be the saboteur, putting everyone in the offworlder group in jeopardy.

What I expected to happen:

I figured my favorite revolutionaries would see a planet that rigidly defined the future for its children and immediately do whatever they could to help liberate them from their programmed chains.

What actually happened:

When it became apparent that Vampire was the troublemaker and started making a run for it, Kallyn snared him with telekinetics and turned him in to the Ashkodt police to answer for his crimes.

Did this piss me off? No. Far from it. Had she let Vampire go, she and her comrades would have been taken into custody and faced harsh questioning, possibly even torture, at the hands of the Hekayti authorities on Ashkodt. Had she tried to run with Vampire, well, that might have gotten people in the group hurt or killed. As it was, she managed to bargain for the freedom of her friends.

No shots fired. No one killed. The only dice roll was perfunctory, just to make sure her telekinetics worked on Vampire.

This did make the Saturday event shorter than I had anticipated, but it was a resolution and it was driven by player choice, so that was perfect as far as I was concerned.

It didn’t sit as well with Kallyn, who then asked about bringing a different character – her Hekayti – to visit on Sunday. I agreed.

During this epilogue-style event, Everto (a rare red Hekayti) talked to Ashkodt colonists about what was going on with the Emergents. Through the conversation, Everto gave the colonists the idea of turning the Emergents over to the Toveil caste for study. This idea may save the lives of the Emergents and, by extension, could prevent Vampire from facing the death penalty for his actions.

Kallyn expressed some concern about getting too much spotlight during this event. I don’t see a problem. In this case, Kallyn seemed the most engaged of the group. I take nothing away from the other players who participated – everyone did a great job while they were on Ashkodt. However, Kallyn seemed particularly drawn to this story, especially after it became apparent that another Necro-ite was involved.

I’m happy with the way it worked out, even if it’s not exactly what I had expected.

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  1. Kallyn
    February 27, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    This is unacceptable, I MUST SHARE THE SPOTLIGHT WITH EVERYONE ELSE! 😉

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