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Or Yup? - Steampunk ****.

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"Once we mastered the skies, laying claim to the frontiers proved a trivial matter. Our vision for the world came into focus and the laborers saw their feudal masters for what they were. The Compact became inevitable." -Dalton Jeffers

Welcome to the Old Northern Frontier. After centuries of wallowing away in the filth of the earth, mankind finally found the spark to illuminate the darkness. Driven by the raw elemental power of nature, great machines could now accomplish in days what previous generations had wasted lifetimes to achieve. Mankind, free from the shackles of unjust servitude and empowered with godlike might, were able to conquer disparate factions in the old Frontiers and bring about a sort of unity. Progress became the order of the day and the path to prosperity. The Compact was what made it all possible and without it, there would be chaos and ruin; therefore, the Compact had to endure no matter the cost. And yet many aspects of the Compact remained unknown to the common man. During quieter moments a person might wonder to himself why the expansion continued after the Frontiers were conquered. The young girl in school might daydream about the sea of blue beyond the Frontiers and her teacher would sleep uneasily at night with the harsh truth that absolutely nothing has been discovered in the vastness of the world beyond the horizon.

You find yourself in The Edge, the northernmost city in the Old Northern Frontier. The Edge rests, quite logically, at the edge of the Whetstone, which is the name of the planet on which you have lived your entire life. There are four edges of the Whetstone, though if you want to be technical about it there is only one edge as the world's sole landmass exists as a round disk amidst a sea of sky. At the center of the Whetstone is the Core, a technological wonderland of prosperity and progress. The world has the Core to thank for the Compact and the revolutions in society and technology that followed. And while not everyone is thrilled with their leaders or their reality, it is hard to find anyone that truly wants to go back to the way things were. Tales of the Feudal Wars and of the terrors that once stalked the earth still keep young children on their best behavior as they are formed into model citizens.

This is the world you've been placed into and the journey is about to begin.If you've made it this far, I hope that means you have an interest in playing! But perhaps some of you have questions as to what exactly the nature of this game is. How do we play? Are there turns? Is there a GM? What the heck is play-by-post (PBP) roleplay (RP)? My hope is to answer a lot of these questions in just a moment. This style of play is very near and dear to me as it got me through most of my teenage years. It taught me how to become a better writer and storyteller and also how to work well with other people. I hope that is the spirit with which you'll all approach this project. Now then...

[spoiler=REQUIRED READING: What the heck is PBP RP?]Play-by-post roleplay is an older style of forum gaming whereby the game's participants take turns writing out their characters' experiences and story in long-form posts containing description, exposition, and dialog. The usual writing style is that of third person limited/omniscient, which may strike some of you as a contradiction; however, allow me a moment to explain. You will write your character's story from their point of view and the other players will do the same. Insofar as the style is "limited", you would not be able to describe the thoughts and feelings of another player's characters to a great degree. And the "omniscient" aspect of the storytelling is to facilitate a broadening of the game's lore and world; basically, you'd be able to describe and create locations and details all on your own as long as they fit the general idea and spirit of whatever location/situation our characters are experiencing.

What we are hoping to achieve is a world created by all of us, with ideas or locations or whatever introduced by one player and then built upon by the rest of the players. Though this method we build a world larger than any one of us would be able to do on our own.[/spoiler]

[spoiler=REQUIRED READING: But what about the gameplay? How does it work? May I see an example?]The gameplay in a PBP RP is fairly straightforward. As the GM, I will control the game's antagonists. As the players, you will make up the game's protagonists. I've got a story outline and will set goals for you guys and your characters to reach, with my characters trying to stand in your way. Think of it like play-fighting. We aren't necessarily in this to win the game, as the protagonists almost always make it through to their victory. What we are hoping to do here is create a fun adventure with a world and a story that is all our own. If desired, the game can continue with subsequent chapters after the first part is done. And in that case, we can even let someone else take the reigns as the GM and enjoy the evil side of life. But that is much further down the line.

Each time you're here at the forum you would read what has been written so far and then add the next piece to the story. Time in this case will progress in a somewhat wonky fashion within the game's world. Player A may write about a current event and the following post by Player B may detail events taking place at entirely different times, so long as the posts sync up by the end. As a very basic example:Player A: Joe walked down to the bar, tired. He passed a bum seeking coin at the edge of a dark alley and flatly ignored the man. Joe had a more-pressing need, namely to get as drunk as he could as fast as he could. Striding past the bum's dark alley, Joe entered the even darker pub to wash away his pain. There was a couple sitting at his usual spot and he gave them a bit of a look before shuffling off toward the end of the bar. Fools in love taking his spot... forcing Joe to sit where he couldn't see the TV. Just another grievance for the pile. He wouldn't be able to see the game, but at least he could drink.

Player B: It had been a long day, but a rewarding one for Sylvia. She had finally closed out the big sale and was the toast of the office. Feeling relief wash over her, Sylvia decided to take Alex up on that offer for a drink. The bar wasn't in her usual part of town, but Alex was a good man and she really needed to get out. It was a cool night and the air felt crisp, almost electric. Perhaps it was a sign of good things to come. Sylvia chuckled to herself at the thought as she rounded the block where the bar was located. In the distance she saw Alex leaning into a dark alley. Suspicious. As she got closer, Sylvia almost smacked herself for having such dark thoughts. Alex was simply handing a couple dollars to a bum in the alleyway. He really was a good man.

"There you are" she heard Alex call out, "Come on, I've got the best spot saved for us!"

Sylvia smiled and picked up her pace, grasping Alex's hand and pulling him away from the alley. Together they entered the bar and settled into their spots. Alex wasn't wrong, they had a perfect view of the TV and the bartender was always nearby. After placing their order, Sylvia saw the front door open out of the corner of her eye. A disheveled man wandered in and glared at her intently for only an instant. He seemed hostile, though she had no clue who he was. And after the moment passed he simply continued on his way and sat at the other end of the bar. The clink of glass on wood broke Sylvia's trance and she looked down to see her drink. Alex was holding his up in a toast to which she reciprocated. It was going to be a good evening.As you can see, the game is built on taking the cues from the person who posted before you and then continuing forward with that momentum. The first player established that there is a bar, a bum, and a couple. The second player could have gone off and told their own story with Sylvia (she didn't even have to go to that bar or be part of the aforementioned couple), but decided to take advantage of the groundwork laid out by the previous poster. This is generally how a PBP RP operates. My job as the GM would be to provide reasons for people to get roped into whatever situation may arise. It's somewhat "superhero-y" in that respect, as you guys are slowly assembling the team.[/spoiler]

[spoiler=REQUIRED READING: Got it. What about combat?] Combat exists with a slightly modified set of rules and expectations. During combat, the GM will have an enhanced ability to inflict harm upon player-characters. With that said, the GM won't be going around chopping off arms or ripping player-characters in half. If a player wants to have their character be killed or maimed in combat, that is entirely up to them and if done, that player may choose to create another character or assume control of an NPC or something. But otherwise the structure is much-the-same: the GM or a player will describe the action taken and the person impacted will describe the result. Working through combat tends to be the trickiest part of a PBP RP, as it is faster-paced with shorter posts than are normally expected. As such, sometimes it could take a fair amount of real world time to reconcile a five minute combat scene in the game's world. Especially if the entire team gets a shot in on the antagonists before the GM comes around to respond. Rather than give an example, I think we'll just cross this bridge when we get there.[/spoiler]

[spoiler=REQUIRED READING: Okay, but are there actual rules?]There are some rules to abide by in a PBP RP. They are mostly in place to prevent players from taking too much liberty with another player's character (which can lead to fights) or otherwise messing up the game (which can lead to sorrow). These rules or guidelines are concepts myself and others have hashed out over the years, so they have the weight of experience behind them. Some basic rules would be as follows:
[*]Characters and important objects created by other players are generally considered to be under that player's control. Try not to break their toys. Instead, send them a PM, see if you can coordinate to make something amazing happen.

[*]There is a major difference between a player knowing everything about the game and a character knowing everything about the game. As a player, you are encouraged to know as much as you can about every aspect of the RP you are a part of. Characters should not know everything and are not expected to know everything.

[*]You are allowed to leave a game if you desire, but once you leave your character becomes a NPC and their protection is not guaranteed.

[*]Out of character posts do not occur in the in-character topic. That is why we have the OOC to begin with.

[*]Proofread! For the love of Mike, proofread your posts for spelling, grammar, and general format. Ten paragraphs of mess and clutter without proper spacing or line breaks is a real hassle to sift through. If we can't understand you, your work may be overlooked. If you need help with proofing, please ask! It's a group effort, we can all help one another.

[*]Understand the rules and themes of the game's world. If it's a sci-fi game, why would there be a magic user? If it is historical fiction, why are there robots and aliens? That's just silly and not in the spirit of the game. Try to make things that fit in the world. Uniqueness for the sake of uniqueness is shallow and uninteresting.[/list]
There are some other odds and ends I could throw in here, but this post is already teetering on being too big. It's a lot of common sense kinds of rules. Just try not to be too selfish and understand that you may not be able to use your wacky character design in a specific game. After all, you should derive your character's uniqueness through the dialog and exposition you write, not through your character sheet.[/spoiler]Enough reading for you? Well don't fret, there will be plenty more once we get things rolling. For now, I'll get to work on a post with this game's character sheet and you guys let me know if you're interested.

This will be a steampunk styled game, which generally implies a lack of electricity and a world that never saw the production of the printed circuit or miniaturization techniques. Think steam! I'm hoping to get between five (5) and eight (8) players for this game, with the hopes of no more than three posts per day from each player. Each post should have a minimum of two (2) paragraphs and a paragraph is generally considered to be a collection of at least five (5) sentences. And if there is any confusion still, please ask me here or send me a PM! Once the game gets going I think a lot of this will click.

Thank you for your time. I hope we can find enough players!! :)

THIS WAS THE FIRST POST OF THE RP. Any good? Please tell me.

A gentle breeze spun itself around the spindles of an elegant wooden railing upon which a man was leaning. He held a small glass of some sort of clear liquor in one hand while the other listed lazily over the precipice. Before him was The Core in all of its glory, bright shafts of light piercing a hazy night sky above a bustling metropolis. Tiny smudges puttered across the man's field of view, countless airships going about their business. Maybe they were ferrying people to the Frontiers or maybe they simply contained the next day's bread delivery for some tiny hamlet. Whatever the case, the man took solace in this view. After all, it was his responsibility and his alone. Being a Grand Admiral in service of The Compact was a hefty weight on a person's shoulders, though this man carried it well. He lifted his glass and raised it toward a tall tower seated above the bright glow at the base of The Core, a toast to what mattered. Without a sound the Grand Admiral gulped down the burning drink and exhaled a cool, measured breath. Behind him, a door slid open and a young man, barely out of his teenage years stepped across the threshold. The young man stopped and stood at attention, a clenched fist held to his chest.

"Speak." the Grand Admiral commanded, his voice higher-pitched than most, though still with an air of authority and danger.

"Sir, new orders from command. We are to go to the Old Northern Frontier." the young soldier said clearly, "We ar-"

"The Edge?" the Grand Admiral interrupted, "They're sending Grand Admiral Decimus Valerius Aetius, savior of The Core... to The Edge?"

"Yes sir." the young soldier answered, a shade of worry gripping his tongue, "We are to proceed to The Edge and check up on the construction of the new flagship."

Grand Admiral Aetius let out an indignant sigh and spun to face the young soldier, his flowing blue cape catching The Core's light. Holding the glass firmly in his right hand, he pointed at the soldier. The young soldier remained at attention, frozen in place. A smile crept across Aetius' lips, his crooked teeth shimmering with saliva.

"My apologies, lad. I do not mean to make you pay for my superiors' insult." the Grand Admiral slammed his glass down on the wooden railing behind him, balancing it perfectly before releasing his grip. "If our orders are to go to The Edge to see this so-called flagship, so be it. You may go to the helm and tell them to begin preparations. We can leave as soon as they are ready. I've nowhere else to be, it seems."

"Yes sir." the young soldier saluted once more.

"Your name?" Aetius asked, to which the soldier responded nervously. "E-excuse me, sir?"

"Your name, boy!! What is your name!?" Aetius yelled, a unquenchable rage welling up from within.

"I am Michael." the young soldier stammered, "Michael Aurelius."

"Ah! You share the blood of the old nobles like me." Aetius spoke, his grin widening, "And yet your name is sullied with that of common filth... It is no matter, we will see how your strength holds, young Michael."

The Grand Admiral turned once again and resumed his vigil, raising his left hand and pointing to the glass balanced on the railing.

"I want a smooth journey. This glass is not to fall from its perch during our ascent. Is this understood, Michael? Once we are in the sky your anxiety may cease. But if this glass were to tumble, either onto my deck or onto my city..." Aetius' voice slowly wandered off and silence filled the air between the two men, "You are dismissed, Michael."

"Sir!" the young soldier named Michael saluted and left to relay the news, a hot ball of worry sliding down his throat as he went.

Aetius' eyes focused intently on the tower at the center of The Core, his gaze piercing through it as if to slice the tower from its foundations. A low rumble passed through the floorboards and up the balcony's railing, pulling the Grand Admiral's attention away from his plight. He gazed down at the small glass nestled on the polished wooden railing and watched intently as the city slowly began to fall away behind it. It would seem that young Michael had a good rapport with the helmsmen, they seemed to be performing without flaw. Aetius expected nothing less from the men under his command and those stationed on his airship, The Pegasus, were expected of even more. Letting out a cry of anger and annoyance, Aetius smacked the glass off of the railing and sent it tumbling down to the city below with the hope that some poor fool would catch it on the head.Some time later...[/i]

There was a celebratory mood gripping the citizens of The Edge. Rumor had it that the Grand Admiral himself was going to be visiting their fair city in order to inspect what would soon be The Compact's new flagship. Not only that, but he would be arriving in The Pegasus, the current flagship and a ship of legend. It was The Pegasus that finally silenced the enemies of The Compact and ushered in the new era of hope and prosperity. Enthusiasts and regular citizens alike would crane their necks to catch a glimpse of its mighty profile appearing on the horizon. Up in the city's higher echelons, preparations were being made to welcome such an esteemed guest. And down below others still hoped to catch some of the Grand Admiral's famous good favor and perhaps get their golden ticket to an easy life. It was as best a time as any to be in The Edge. Fortune seemed to be smiling.

Reading it over, I am really happy with the result of this ruleset. It is the best version I have come up with so far. And I am sure any of you can make it better.

I am always seeking to perfect our model. I've seen others literally cite the GS forum rules. How can we make it better?


Chapter I - ArrivalsThere was a carnival-like atmosphere across The Edge. Today was the day that the Grand Admiral was to arrive with The Pegasus, the legendary flagship of The Compact. And in the city's main square a small crowd had gathered to watch the crews setting up the stage for the week's events. It was a large, flat area paved with tan stones and flanked on three sides by tall steel and masonry structures. The fourth side of the main square was right up against the edge of the world, offering a gorgeous view of the sky and the city that wormed its way vertically down the side of the Whetstone. Thanks to the wind currents in the Old Northern Frontiers, most of The Edge's pollution was carried toward the mainland, leaving the edge portions of the city free of smog and haze. Colorful flags rippled in the steady breeze as vendors went about setting up tents and attractions. Up near the stage, three large box-like objects were slowly being lowered into place by massive cranes. The boxes were unlike anything anyone had seen before. According to the rumor they were some kind of experimental technology from The Core that could amplify the voice. Just one of many new delights the Grand Admiral was to show off to the rapidly-modernizing Edge.

Beyond the scope of the main square the city sprawled out in all directions. From the industrial districts to the south to the market districts to the east to the residential slums in the west, The Edge was a collision of old and new. And to the north beyond the precipice were the "hanging districts", as well as the ever-busy shipyards. It was in this city that much of The Compact's fleet of airships was constructed and maintained. And while there were other shipyards around The Whetstone, this one was the most prestigious. So much so that the new flagship was being constructed there, a fact that citizens of The Edge were quick to wave in the faces of people from other parts of the world. Those lucky enough (and wealthy enough) to have a home in one of the Hanging Districts were treated to a front-row seat for the new flagship's construction. And while much of it was still obscured behind a myriad of scaffolds and walls, the project was already influencing art and culture. It was not uncommon to find miniature models of the new vessel in the shopping district and some enterprising individuals had even begun to sell shirts just for the celebration. There was a lot of money to be made off of the new flagship, as well as the arrival of the Grand Admiral.

Security was tight because of this. Streets had been blocked off and traffic diverted in some areas. Travel toward the main square was restricted to foot traffic alone, much to the chagrin of daily commuters that used the nearby train station. Law enforcement had also begun cracking down more heavily on even the smallest of crimes. The local government did not want any embarrassment during the official visit. Everyone was to be on good behavior and they knew it.

Back in the main square, the last of the giant boxes had been secured to the stage and a few technicians were scurrying about connecting plugs and wires to sockets and receptacles. An older man standing amidst one of the small crowds that had gathered pointed his finger to a tall, cylindrical device sitting behind the stage in the high-security area where armed guards patrolled. He mentioned something about it being one of the new generator devices that he had worked on many years ago when he was a scientist in The Core. It utilized a new form of energy called "electrosis", very powerful but highly volatile and still experimental. His remarks drew oohs and ahhs from those around him and they watched a pair of technicians guiding a massive cable toward the side of the device. An arc of high-energy spanned the air between the large cable and the generator and a loud "POP" emanated from the voice amplifiers. There were a few screams and scattered applause from those gathered to watch. Somewhere someone could be heard cursing loudly as their tent tumbled apart. The old man laughed heartily and slapped his grandson on the back, remarking that he'd live to see great things.

As if on cue, a murmur rose up within the crowd and people turned away from the stage, looking skyward. The belle of the ball had appeared over the outskirts of the city: the mighty Pegasus. A young artist hastily turned her easel around and began painting as fast as her hands would allow. The Pegasus pushed through the haze along The Edge's southern districts and caught the afternoon sun in its full form. At the fore of the great airship was a massive bronze figurehead depicting a winged horse mid-gallop, its wings extending back along the hull until almost midship. The beast's great mouth bared its gleaming teeth, behind which lurked The Pegasus' main cannon. And along the sides were dozens upon dozens of hatches, each containing weapons and arms of devastating power. This was the ship that saved the world and somewhere inside was the man that made it all happen: the people's hero, Grand Admiral Decimus Valerius Aetius, tenth in the line of strong eagles.

The crowds within the main square began to swell as the flagship approached. Few would pass up a chance to see the machine pass by. Within the hearts of the people of The Edge was a great pride, The Pegasus was one of their ships as well, built by their hands with their blood, sweat, and tears. It was like a family member coming home after decades abroad. Indeed it had been almost a generation since The Pegasus last graced the city of The Edge. And with the construction of the new flagship nearing completion, it was time to celebrate.

Far removed from the city's bustling streets, deep inside The Pegasus, Grand Admiral Aetius was waiting in one of the ready-rooms. He stood before a long table, The Pegasus' captain standing to his right. Her name was Margaret Lancer, Captain Lancer to the enlisted men. It was her honor to serve as captain of the flagship Pegasus, though it was a job she held in-name-only. For as long as the Grand Admiral was on board The Pegasus, it was his ship. And there were few that would stand in his way, Captain Lancer among them. She served under the Grand Admiral during the closing days of the Frontier Wars and respected him above all others. To even be considered second-in-command of such a prize was to see a lifetime of hard work and struggle realized. She sipped on a glass of dark wine as Aetius pointed to a map laid out on the table. It was a highly-detailed depiction of a small corner of The Edge's southern industrial district, near the lake. One specific building was circled in red ink, with several routes drawn in blue dotted lines.

"Why wouldn't they tell you, though?" Captain Lancer mumbled, "Is this really our only option?"

"Unfortunately yes." Aetius sighed, "For some reason I have been deemed ineligible to see the final details of construction. I am simply to do a walk-through, write my report, and move on. As commanded."

"Sounds damn suspicious." Lander coldly remarked, she looked up as the door to the ready-room opened.

A young soldier named Michael stepped over the threshold and stood at attention, a clenched fist held to his chest in salute.

"At ease, boy!" Aetius barked, "Come in here and look at this map. Tell us what you see."

Michael approached the table, glancing between the Captain and the Grand Admiral before settling his gaze upon the map. He studied it intently, tracing the routes with his finger and pointing at a few other spots with pursed lips. His two superiors seemed pleased as they watched him conduct his overview. After a few minutes of silent analysis punctuated by Captain Lancer sipping her wine, Michael looked up and spoke.

"Going in from below is a bad move. We should strike that plan right-out."

"Hm... and the roof?" Captain Lancer asked.

"Not optimal, but it would work. A drop would be best. But too risky, people would see and we can't depend on the smog to cover us." Michael answered, "Street level is the best choice. We could go in relatively unnoticed during the speeches."

"And I can assure you that at least one of them will be a long speech." the Grand Admiral said with a wry smile, "I'll make sure to give them a good show so you can do what you need to do."

"M-me?" Michael gasped.

"Yes you. This is your mission, boy." Aetius said with confidence, walking from the table and approaching Michael, "You wallow away in this ship, never realizing your full potential. The Captain here has confirmed as much to me. You're an accomplished pilot yet you do not fly. Your marksmanship tests are top of the class yet you never carry a gun. You know how to disassemble and reassemble the engines with your eyes closed, yet you do no maintenance. Your position is beneath you. That's why you've been selected for this."

"We have full confidence in you." Captain Lancer said, putting a hand on Michael's shoulder, "There are few in the entire fleet with a skill set as well-rounded as yours. Complete this task and you'll get your commission. And then some."

"You'd make me an officer!?" Michael blurted out.

"Hah! There's the ambition I knew was lurking within you." Aetius said cheerfully, "But don't get ahead of yourself. The mission first."

"Sir!" Michael saluted once more, "And when I am inside what am I looking for?"

"It will be simple enough." Aetius assured him, "On the fifth floor, past three security gates, two armed guards, and one of those newfangled 'killbots' is a safe. The combination has been provided to us by an undisclosed third party. You will find that combination located in an envelope in your quarters upon your return there. Inside the safe is a roll of papers... the blueprints for the new flagship. Bring them to me and get your commission."

"You will have access to the full compliment of weapons, armor, and other assorted trinkets that we have on board." Captain Lancer said firmly, "Take what you think you will need. Get in. Get out. And get back here without being discovered by the local authorities. If you fail, we will deny any knowledge of you or what you were doing there. A court martial will follow and death or imprisonment soon after. Are we clear?"

"Crystal clear, Captain." Michael responded.

"You have the rest of the day to study up and prepare. You may take this map with you, but it is to be destroyed before sunset tonight. Once I leave tomorrow for my speech to the city, you are to begin. Be back before my return or prepare for your punishment." Aetius said sternly, "Dismissed."

Michael saluted once more and folded up the map, sliding it into his breast pocket. He left the ready-room and returned to his quarters to begin preparations for his mission. Captain Lancer turned to the Grand Admiral and gave him a reassuring smile.

"I think he'll do fine."

"He has no choice. And if he fails, I don't know what we're to do. Something about this flagship business stinks and I am determined to find out what's going on. Someone up the chain isn't telling the truth and when I find them I'll throw them off The Whetstone myself."


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