I: About the Author
Not a terribly important section, but I figured since my work will be touching on some potentially sensitive topics, it would be a good idea for me to acknowledge my shortcomings and where I’m coming from.
I’m a twentysomething graduate student, studying philosophy in the United States. English is in fact my native language, but I’m certainly not perfect at it. I’m white, female, (mostly?) cisgender, and characterize my sexual orientation as “complicated,” but I consider myself committed to diverse representation in games and stories, where characters are rendered as complete, interesting entities, not reduced to stereotypes or tokenized. I will probably get this wrong sometimes, and I would definitely appreciate being told when I do. It is certainly no one else’s responsibility to educate me, but I would appreciate assistance willingly offered should I err, or even confirmation of things that don’t suck about how I present people with very different identities from my own.
I’ve been writing for a very long time, though rarely in any sort of publishable sense. I’ve dabbled in fanfiction, and have a longstanding membership on an RP forum, so I think my ability to string words together is at least decent, though certainly there’s room for me to improve, and I’m sure there are many nuances to this genre that I haven’t picked up in my lurking of these depths.
I’m happy to be here, as from what I can tell your community is creative, supportive, and engaged. Hopefully I’ll eventually muster up the courage to post in a discussion that someone else started.
II: About the Story
The Surface is a working title, and perhaps not terribly informative. The basic setting is a world not entirely unlike ours, ruined centuries before by an apocalyptic event that no one really understands any more, if they ever did in the first place. What’s left of humanity lingers on a rather large floating chunk of rock in the sky, upon which is built a massive city, named Revelation after the event that led to its founding. No one knows how it’s kept afloat, exactly, nor why several other, smaller chunks of earth are similarly elevated.
There are some steampunk elements to the setting when it comes to technology and the like, but I haven’t by any means kept religiously close to any existing works in the genre in creating Revelation. It’s a world with an uneasy balance between technology and magic, between the mundane and the inexplicable. Society in Revelation has several defining characteristics: an extremely stratified class system, backed by geographical segregation, an obsession with aesthetics, and a fear and loathing of magic and the tiny subsection of the population that can use it.
Ethnicity as a marker of anything other than certain physical traits doesn’t really come into play; so little is understood of the world before Revelation that even if there was complicated history there, no one remembers it anymore. There’s also a certain understanding of non-binary gender, trans* identities, genderfluidity, and complicated sexual orientations. The instance of bi- or pansexuality in the general population is higher than it is in our society, but that’s not to say that everything’s idyllic. Women (including transwomen, or people who present as mostly feminine) have to deal with asymmetric standards of behavior, different “ideals” for how they should be than men/transmen/people who present as mostly masculine, or even people who just… don’t present as feminine.
But all of that is secondary to social class. The city is divided into four Districts (creatively named Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta), and they’re basically concentric circles, with things being much nicer and fancier close to the center, and much slummier and poor further out.
The idea of the plot is that the player picks from one of four class/profession-based origins (from a scientist of noble descent all the way down the ranks to a near-homeless mage on the city’s fringes). Each class has a unique origin chapter type thing, which will establish that character’s background, give some insight into the setting, and also contain the important plot events that get them thrown into the main story.
The reason the story is called The Surface is because the main story will put the protagonist (for reasons unique to their origin) on a skyship bound for an exploratory mission onto the surface of the planet, which is considered an exceptionally dangerous place to be. The group of people with whom they’re making this expedition is, I think, rather colorful, and the choices they make and bonds they form during the expedition phase (as well as what they discover) will have a heavy influence on how the last part of the story, back up in the city, takes place. I plan for the second part to contain a lot of action and survival elements, with hopefully a little bit of mystery to keep things interesting, but I do want the main focus, if possible, to be on the characters themselves.
III: The Characters
I don’t want to include anything too spoilery, especially since I’m still nailing down a lot of details, but a little blurb for each shouldn’t hurt, I hope.
The Expedition Team/Core Characters
Leander Drake: Presumably the expedition sponsor. This character will be gender-flipping on… some criterion or another, but I plan for there to be two distinct versions of the character, one male and one female. I’m thinking about just making them the counterpart to the protagonist’s gender, if the protagonist is binary, or randomizing if the protagonist is non-binary. This is partly for ease of coding and partly because if there’s a deuteragonist at all in the story, Leander’s probably it, and I’d prefer it if there was some gender diversity at the top, so to speak. Anyway, being wealthy enough to fund a surface expedition means that Leander pretty much has to be a member of the nobility, but their motives are, for the first part of the story at least, quite mysterious.
Captain Santiago Garcia: Goes by Iago. A ship captain in Revelation’s military police force, and probably the best pilot in the city, which is kind of a rare skill since most airship flights are only between floating chunks of rock and not that frequent. He’s there because they need his boat, mostly, and his crew also.
Makoto Ozawa: Gender-neutral scientist. Requested specifically by Leander to accompany the expedition, for zir particular expertise. Considered to be the “young genius” type, but unusually reliable for the often-eccentric minds in zir particular subfield. Ze’s there for all the fancy academic stuff that I’m probably going to be making up as I go along.
Nox: A member of the infamous “Minstrels’ Guild” which everyone knows is actually the assassins’ guild. Assassins in Revelation are a little more diverse than they tend to be on other media. They do occasionally get used to kill people, but most of the time, they’re more like… spies, hired thieves, infiltrators, paramilitary “troubleshooters,” or just very skilled people for hire. Also completely legal, in most cases. When doing aboveboard work, they even wear uniforms. Nox is a professional moniker; his birth name is Salim El-Hashem. He was hired by Leander.
Gemma Sterling: Gamma-born street-rat-turned-valet. She was also hired by Leander, but works for them on a more permanent basis, usually to do basic things like carry messages, act as a personal attendant, and so on. She’s there because her boss is there.
Elias Tate: Mage, and a prisoner. Recently captured by the military police and arrested for conspiracy to commit treason. He’s not actually part of the expedition team, but he starts out on the ship, in the brig. He’ll be a pretty pivotal character later, actually.
Amira Tate: Elias’s little sister, also a mage. She’s blind from birth, but can use a form of magic to help her navigate. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s workable. She happens to be stowing away on the expedition vessel, and has every intention of breaking her brother out.
There are also a ton of other minor NPCs, some of whom will be showing up only in certain runs of the story, so I’m hoping it’s not too many. The idea is just that the world does function on its own, and things do happen. Some of them, the PC/MC will be able to do nothing about. Some of them, he/she/they/ze will be able to influence a great deal.
I guess I’ll stop there for now. If anyone has any questions, concerns, suggestions, or feedback, please do let me know. I’d love to discuss any of this, and I’ve found that, generally speaking, answering queries helps me solidify things in my head, or think of plot points or angles I hadn’t considered before.