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  • Back Alive or Maybe Dead [Quest]

    Back Alive, or Maybe Dead
    A Tale from the Realm's Wild Frontier














    To the town of Freewater rode a stranger, one fine day...

    Freewater was the kind of place that passes for a town in places too far from the center of the world to know what real towns are. It had buildings made of wood and adobe instead of stone or concrete, and the tallest were only two stories. Its regular population was greatly outnumbered by its regular drifters. The name was either wishful thinking, false advertising, or deliberate irony - anyone who lived there would tell you water was about the most precious thing they had.

    The sun shone down on a dry, dusty road that passed between dry, dusty houses. Air rose in hot waves from the burning earth. At that time of day and that time of year in that part of the world, nobody went outside by choice. The sun would bake the sweat right off you.

    Which is not to say that nobody was outside - just common people who had no choice. There was a smith, working hard underneath a shade, hammering out a ladle. A couple of teamsters hauled buckets across the road to their sheltered animals. Farmers wandered around the edges, doing daily labors they couldn't delay. These were plain working folk, making a living however they could in an inhospitable land.

    Then came our stranger, drawing eyes as she rode in. Really, it was her sand-dragon drawing the eyes. Sand dragons are hard to tame, as everyone knows. This one stood out even more for having scales red as rust in the twilight. His rider swayed atop him as the dragon plodded along. She would've been a sight too, if the dragon weren't so distracting.

    She was a lean woman in a long, dust-colored coat, keeping the sun out of her face with a wide-brimmed hat. Leather gloves, chaps, and boots completed her riding ensemble. Red hair in a loose ponytail rested against the scarf wrapped around her neck. She had pale skin gone ruddy from exposure, and her freckled face was aged prematurely. Every so often, when the dragon moved her just the right way, her coat slipped and showed the flame piece bouncing off her hip.

    It had been a long time since she'd come to this part of the country, but now she was looking for someone. She was...
    • The White Plains Ranger , a mysterious vigilante. The Ranger lived a solitary existence in the desert, closer to its spirits than its people. Her existence was a rumor, her name was a secret, and wherever she went she brought hope to the hopeless and swift justice to the wicked.
    • Marshal Jan Steader, the Law around these parts. It was a tough, thankless job, but somebody had to keep order on the frontier. Jan was the only one hard enough to be able to protect but still soft enough to want to serve. Impartiality, a no-nonsense attitude, and a knack for spotting the root of a problem helped her keep the peace between people who disagree. If that failed, she had the fastest draw you've ever seen.
    • Burning Red, the Devil in the Desert, an infamous outlaw. One day she just appeared, robbing and torching her way across the frontier, leaving a trail of destruction behind her. When people saw fires burning high off in the distance, they'd say it was Burning Red at her bloody work. Then they'd lock their doors, for what little good that did them.
    • "Swifthand" Ash, a self-made legend.Tales were told far and wide of the woman who wrestled a wildfire, befriended the king of all sand-dragons, married nine men and seven women at the same time, took on a hundred-fifty dunefolk singlehanded, killed half of them, and drank a whole river dry. Most of those stories were embellished or made up by the woman herself. Make no mistake, Ash wasn't all talk. Far from it - records prove she was a crack shot, a fine rider, and a successful bounty-hunter and gambler. But she liked to spin a yarn, or put on a show, and sometimes she'd pay to have her story told... pretty soon, her myth far outgrew her deeds. She didn't mind at all.
    • Something else?
    Table of Contents
    Chapter 1: Once Upon a Time in the South
    1. To the town of Freewater...
    2. She was "Swifthand" Ash...
    3. Instead of answering right away...
    4. "Mister, when there's trouble around..."
    5. Ash smiled back at her...
    6. Ash decided to test Em's patience...
    7. ...a challenge with no name on it.
    8. "..." The Ranger didn't answer.
    9. The Ranger caught that dust in her flamepiece...
    10. She gave Em one hard whack on each side of her head...
    11. The Ranger kept her silence...
    12. ...chiming bells.
    13. "So I am. And it looks like I've got you to thank for it."
    14. And that's how the adventure started.

    Chapter 2: The Magnificent Five
    1. Ash and Bo rode along...
    2. They went North, to Roca Roja
    3. It was the Youngblood
    4. We're goin' to gather gossip.
    5. They were the Impostor
    6. She decided to put on a show.
    7. She walked across the room and grabbed a seat next to Serge
    8. It was time to leave Roca Roja
    9. Their destination was far south, to the Wastes
    10. That's where they found the Old Hand
    11."If that's what you want, I can't force you. But..."
    12. But she should tell one person - Damon Lans
    13. A series of canyons, as shaded as anywhere in the Wastes
    14. Ash snapped King's reins and turned the lizard toward the cliff face.
    15. The Ranger loaded up her matchlock, fired a blast into the air...
    16. Ash stood up and walked over to Serge
    17. "I believe my enemy has a patron - a being most ancient and foul"
    18. "I'm gonna need a weapon. Ya'll might want to arm up, too."
    19. ...in the end it wasn't simple at all.

    Chapter 3: Have Firewand - Will Travel
    1.They reached Santa Mela early in the morning
    2. ..they would spend the day browsing
    3. Ash walked outside to inspect the new arrival
    4. Ash stepped up to the coach and peered in
    5. Ash pursed her lips, then jogged up the stairs in pursuit of Jehn
    6. "That wasn't any Delzahn prince"
    7. "Come on. Let's get this over with."
    8. Ash ignored the scene and focused on the birds.
    9. Ash rushed in between them
    10. "You seem pretty comfortable around powerful folks, Bo."
    11. The Ranger got dressed, grabbed her firewand, and set out
    12. She lit herself up and came around the corner
    13. She ran for Hark, seeing in him her best chance
    14. The Ranger put her bayonet to Hark's throat
    15. [She] pulled a fistful of dust.. and flung it
    16. The Ranger roughly grabbed her by the shoulder
    17. She was surprised to see Gaze
    18. Ash decided to join Seres
    19. Judgment and Absolution
    20. Whatever she would have said was drowned out by a deafening boom
    21. "Get those doors open!"
    22. Ash did not move, but she spoke
    23. "Three!" said Ash, desperately.
    24. Ash stared at Tei Leng and shivered.
    25. "Pull back!"
    26. Throwing caution to the wind, Ash sprinted to the tree trunk
    27. Ash started to blink, then she laughed.
    28. Ash stood up and stamped on the edge of the case.
    29. "We're not done. We're not leavin' until this whole tree is ash."
    30. "I'll own, we weren't workin' as a team."
    31. "We've got to find out what the Lost Souls are plannin'."
    32, She decided to trade the jack and raise.

    Chapter 4: How the South Was Won
    1. "We should prepare."
    2. "Now's as good a time as any to train."
    3. Seres fell into a nest of hoop-snakes.
    4. She swung it around on the end of its tether
    5. "You're stronger than you know, Seres."
    6. She turned to the others...
    7. "Here. Let me help."





    OOC Introduction
    Hello, and welcome to my second Quest thread project. This time, I'm going to be changing up my style a little - past tense, more informal, and with more blocks like this one holding my commentary on the story as it goes. Also, it's kind of a Western.

    For those of you unfamiliar with "quest" threads, the rules are simple - I'll describe the scene and events as they happen, and you decide what you want to happen next. Most of the time, this means deciding what the main character will do, and you'll have list of options to pick from along with the option to put forth your own ideas.

    Here is a link to my last quest project, "From Out of a Dream", in case you want further examples or you like binge-reading.

    To start off, we're going to create our leading lady using an archetype as a template. We'll start with the basic concept of a Drifter, a Lawman, a Desperado, or a Tall Tale and build from there.


    Oh, and I'm always on the lookout for more music. If you've got suggestions for thing to add to the BAoMD soundtrack, I'll take a listen and perhaps add it to the story at some point. No Ennio Morricone, please - I'm saving that for later.

    Archetypes:
    The Drifter is a character with no roots. They waltz into a story, change everything forever with a combination of superior skill and uncanny insight, then waltz out with no explanation. If they have a name it is never given, but that usually is not a handicap. Rather, they use their enigmatic charisma to great effect, impressing people with their skill and cool to get what they want... whatever that might be. Their motivations and methods tend to be mysterious - for instance, they might demand money but ultimately refuse to take it, or get involved in a convoluted land dispute when they're only looking for revenge against one person. In the end, whether they are good or bad, The Drifter is best characterized as a catalyst that no one really understands.

    Inspirations: Practically every western with Clint Eastwood in it has him as one of these (though he may tend more towards being a Lawman or Desperado). Also consider the Lone Ranger, Nobody (My Name is Nobody), Harmonica (Once Upon a Time in the West)

    The Lawman is generally the de facto "good guy," a "white hat" character. The Lawman, more than any other archetype, is tied to a particular context - a town they live in, a community they serve, a group of people they protect. They usually have some kind of righteous mission emerging from their context, which they aim to complete whatever the risk to themselves. Lawmen are generally known for a kind but serious demeanor, a complete unwillingness to take any guff, and being more dangerous than expected. Most importantly, a Lawman will always fight for what they consider to be Justice - somekinds cruel, sometimes kind, always unwavering.

    Inspirations: All of John Wayne's roles, but especially Rooster Cogburn (True Grit). Also consider Will Kane (High Noon), Wyatt Earp (Tombstone), Matt Dillon (Gunsmoke).

    The Desperado is usually, but not always, the villain in the story. Most of their influences, then are "black hats" - stylish, fearsome figures who mostly evoke terror and disgust from people who meet them. Desperados always skirt the law, even if they have good intentions. Violence or the threat thereof is their main tool. Which is not to say that a desperado cannot be charming or sympathetic - they can be both. But at the end of the day, the defining characteristic of the archetype is that they are A Bad Person Doing Bad Things, even if those things are done for a good reason.

    Inspirations: William Munny (Unforgiven), Ben Wade (3:10 to Yuma), everyone in (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly), Juan Miranda (A Fistful of Dynamite).

    The Tall Tale is actually a synthesis of two ideas, borrowing from two completely different and somewhat exclusive sources. The first source is folklore and folklore-inspired tales, with colorful characters performing impossible feats as they wander their way across the west, getting into truly epic trouble. The second source is the IRL "Wild" West, where real people gained legendary status with a lot of self-promotion and good branding. Some, like James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok, were genuinely accomplished people who got inflated into larger-than-life figures because pretending to be more of a badass was (arguably) helpful to their careers. Others, like Martha Jane Cannary AKA "Calamity Jane", were probably all talk but they inspired others just the same. The folklore side provides the epic deeds that Exalted is known for - this is a setting where lassoing a tornado is actually possible for some people. The IRL side provides the human element to flesh out a folkloric figure, so we don't end up with a superpowered cardboard cutout. Both sides provide an indelible style and mystique.

    Inspirations: Besides those already mentioned, consider Pecos Bill (folklore), Silas Greaves (Call of Juarez: Gunslinger), and William "Buffalo Bill" Cody.
    Last edited by semicasual; Yesterday, 02:01 PM.


    On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

    Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

  • #2
    (Yay! Female Quest Character. If I knew Quests were going to be such a Sausage fest, I'd have made Svante a Svetlana instead.))

    "Swifthand" Ash, a self-made legend. Let's see if these tall tales of her are true or not.


    Are you ready to rage? Discover if you are Brave Enough to fight for the soul of the world.

    The Werewolf: the Apocalypse Quest updates on Mondays. All are welcome to vote.

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    • #3
      "I am the Law!" Marshall Jan. Can she do Golden Janissary?


      Like my Avatar? Courtesy of Jen! : Anybody want their characters to be experimented on ? post 98
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      • #4
        Hmm... these are all pretty good. Maybe the backgrounds that don't get picked can become supporting characters?

        I guess the most relevant question is whether or not we're staying in one region or moving around a bit? That would affect which archetype I vote for.

        Also, you're making me want to play Deadlands.


        Mouse monk riding a tiny pig avatar courtesy of the very talented forumite Jen!

        Jen's original portrayal of Mouse Monk, featuring some human or other named Tybalt Farwander.

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        • #5
          Ugh, I SO wanted to pick the White Plains Ranger, until I read the backstory for Swifthand Ash. If only Swifthand were the Bruce Wayne to the Ranger's Batman...

          If I have to pick one, I'll be Swifthand. But I say give this one a sit for another day or two to let people ring in! So excited!


          I post Artifacts in this thread. How I make them is in this thread.
          I have made many tools and other things for 3rd Edition. I now host all of my creations on my Google site: The Vault of the Unsung Hero

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          • #6
            My first impulse is always to go for the lawman. Which is why I'm gonna go another way this time: Burning Red, the Devil in the Desert! Let's get some moral ambiguity on up in here.

            (Aside: oh hell yes, frontier South! I love the possibilities of mashing up the various settings and genres that can fit down there. It's part of the reason the campaign I am running now is set in that part of Creation. If you don't know it already, I cannot recommend the Journey OST enough for Southern atmosphere. It's what I reach for first to get in the frame of mind.)


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Prometheus878 View Post
              Hmm... these are all pretty good. Maybe the backgrounds that don't get picked can become supporting characters?

              I guess the most relevant question is whether or not we're staying in one region or moving around a bit? That would affect which archetype I vote for.

              Also, you're making me want to play Deadlands.
              (I won't rule out unpicked characters becoming some kind of posse, but then again not all of these archetypes are of the posse-gathering temperament.

              We're not leaving this "frontier south" region, but the story may range far from the town of Freewater.)


              On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

              Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

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              • #8
                Swifthand, also just wanted to say I'm looking forward to your second quest!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by semicasual View Post

                  (I won't rule out unpicked characters becoming some kind of posse, but then again not all of these archetypes are of the posse-gathering temperament.

                  We're not leaving this "frontier south" region, but the story may range far from the town of Freewater.)
                  Well alright then.

                  You know what would be a fun idea... The "Swifthand Ash" character, who has to then live up to her own legend.

                  "That tornada's gonna flatten the town! Here Ash, take this lasso!" "Wait, wha- OH NO"
                  Last edited by Prometheus878; 10-11-2016, 01:37 AM.


                  Mouse monk riding a tiny pig avatar courtesy of the very talented forumite Jen!

                  Jen's original portrayal of Mouse Monk, featuring some human or other named Tybalt Farwander.

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                  • #10
                    I like the sound of this White Plains Ranger, myself.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      (I see a weak plurality in favor of Ash, the self-made legend. I'm going to wait a little longer to see if there are more votes.

                      If you'd like more info to help decide, I actually already wrote draft text for each of the four characters.

                      Drifter:
                      The Ranger steered her big old lizard over to a hitching post by the saloon. She didn't tie him up there - instead, she just hopped off and pointed at the ground, as if to say "Stay." The sand dragon nodded once and settled down right there in the road, taking in the sun. The Ranger took a second to adjust the bandana masking her face, then went inside.

                      The rickety wooden door to Freewater's main drinking hole creaked loudly as the Ranger walked in. The Tap & Tack, as it was called, was mainly a shady spot where a body could get drunk in peace. Picture a dim, cool, wide room with rough wooden chairs and tables scattered about. The far side of the room was occupied by a long counter and a lot of stools. It was quiet at that time of day - no one at the tables, and just a few bored souls at the bar. The bartender stood idle behind the counter, polishing a cup like he had nothing better to do.

                      The ranger walker up to the bar, swept back her coat, and leaned over the counter right in front of the bartender. He was a pudgy man, average height, with thinning gray hair and a mournful face. His eyes met hers, and he put on a phony-looking smile.

                      "Well, hello there, stranger. Don't think I've seen you pass through before." The man was kind of loud, and redfaced - he'd been dipping into his own stock, most likely. "What's your name?"

                      And she said....
                      • "..." Nothing. The ranger was mute, you see - couldn't speak a word if she wanted to. But she could make herself understood in other ways. She shook her head, put a coin down on the counter, and pointed at the rack of bottles behind him.
                      • "Me? I'm nobody." She gave the bartender a smile with her eyes. That was her way, you see - never did tell you much, but she did it so you never really minded. "Got any whiskey?"
                      • "What do you care?" She gave him a vicious glare. The Ranger was an ornery sort, you know, and didn't much care for questions. "Just get me something to drink."
                      • Something else?

                      Marshal:
                      Marshal Steader steered her big old lizard over to a hitching post by the saloon, hopped off, and tied him there. "Easy now, Dawn," she said, giving him a little head-rub. The sand-dragon hummed approval and settled down in the road, taking in the sun. Jan took a moment to polish the little tin shield on her shirt-front with a sleeve, then went inside.

                      ...

                      Jan walked up to the bar, crossed her arms, and gave the patron on her right a sidelong glance. The bartender put his glass down and wandered over to her. He was a pudgy man, average height, with thinning gray hair and a mournful face. His eyes met hers, and he put on a phony-looking smile.

                      "Well, hi there, stranger. Don't think I've seen you pass through before." The man was kind of loud, and redfaced - he'd been dipping into his own stock, most likely. "What's your name?"

                      Jan tilted back her hat, looked him in the eye, and said...
                      • "Marshal Jan Steader. Sober up, mister - I've got questions." The Marshall flicked at her tin shield to draw attention to it.Jan was a plain-spoken woman, and not one to beat about the bush.
                      • "Jan. I'm the Marshal." She said it in a matter-of-fact way, as if talking about the weather.The Marshal didn't stand on her authority, and didn't mind mixing business with pleasure. "What've you got behind the counter?"
                      • "Call me Steader. Things look quiet around here." The Marshal liked to lead people in conversations, get them talking about what bothered them. It was her way of finding trouble without announcing herself.
                      • Something else?

                      Desperado:
                      The outlaw steered her big old lizard over to the saloon. She stopped and got off well short of the hitching post. She stretched out her arms and rolled her shoulders, then waved idly at her sand dragon. "Go play, Torch," she said, and the beast growled an affirmation. He stood up on his hind legs, towering over her, then turned around and sprinted clear out of Freewater, kicking up mighty clouds of dust as he went. Red mosied over to the saloon door, sniffed, spat on front steps, then went inside.

                      ...

                      Red swaggered over to one end of the bar, well away from both the bartender and the other patrons. The bartender looked in her direction, opened his mouth, then shut it.He was a pudgy man, average height, with thinning gray hair and a mournful face. His eyes practically bulged out of his head when he looked at the burn scars covering half her face. He looked away, maybe hoping she'd leave if he just ignored her.

                      Burning Red wouldn't have it.
                      • "Who's the feller who owns this shithole? You, fat man! Speak up!" Red was the kind of person who thought politeness was for other people - specifically, it was for other people to give to her. She'd spit out threats and insults like you or I would say 'Good morning.'
                      • Red didn't say a word. She just walked around the counter and grabbed herself a bottle. She could talk alright, but she wasn't one to ask for service when she could just take what she wanted.
                      • "Pardon me, sir. Can a lady drink in this establishment?" She spoke the words so sweet, but there was a menace to them. Behind that civilized mask was a woman who didn't make requests - only politely-worded orders.
                      • Something else?

                      Tall Tale:
                      Ash steered her big old lizard over to a hitching post by the saloon. "Down, King," she said, and the beast lowered himself so she could get off. She casually looped her reins around the post, took a look up at the sign above her, and smiled. Ash took a second to adjust her hair and hat, then went inside.

                      ...

                      Ash swaggered up to the bar, tipped her hat, and gave the bartender a bright, friendly "Howdy!" .

                      His eyes met hers, and he put on a phony-looking smile. "Well, hi there, stranger. Don't think I've seen you pass through before." The man was kind of loud, and redfaced - he'd been dipping into his own stock, most likely. "What's your name?"
                      • "Why, don't you recognize me?" Ash put on a mock look of shock and dismay. "I'm Swifthand Ash! The hero of Broken Canyon!" Just about everything Ash ever said was self-promoting. Some folks found it obnoxious, but it did make an impression.
                      • "Ash. Good to meet you, friend." She stuck out a hand for him to shake, and he shook it. Ash liked to start off on people's good sides and save the theatrics for when everyone was comfortable.
                      • Instead of answering right away, she showed the bartender a little trick. Ash reached into a pocket with her right hand and fished out three coins. She tossed them into the air one after the other, then caught them and tossed them again with the same hand. After a few seconds of jugging, she raised her left hand in a fist and started passing the coins to it. She caught each coin on her thumb and flicked it up, flipping them easily onto the counter. Even better, they landed in a nearly-perfect stack. "My name's Ash, and I'm lookin' to drink and gamble," she said, with the kind of smirk you only see on a born showoff
                      • Something else?


                      Originally posted by The Unsung Hero View Post
                      Ugh, I SO wanted to pick the White Plains Ranger, until I read the backstory for Swifthand Ash. If only Swifthand were the Bruce Wayne to the Ranger's Batman...

                      If I have to pick one, I'll be Swifthand. But I say give this one a sit for another day or two to let people ring in! So excited!
                      If enough people want this, I'll try to run with it. So, for "Something else?" we can consider:

                      "Swifthand" Ash, also known as "The White Plains Ranger" , a hero who hides her true face. Many people knew who Ash was - a 'somewhat' talented bounty hunter and gambler, who liked to talk big and play herself up as the greatest adventurer on the frontier. Hardly anyone knew who the Ranger was, that mysterious vigilante who would sometimes appear to bring hope to the hopeless and swift justice to the wicked. Only one person knew they were the same woman, that being Ash herself. The thing about being a braggart is that anyone smart enough to see through the lie will figure you're all fake, and never look at you twice. Ash used that to her advantage, playing up her cocksure persona in public to disguise her real skills and motivations.

                      )
                      Last edited by semicasual; 10-11-2016, 11:35 AM.


                      On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

                      Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        That... that didn't help at ALL. Now I want a story for ALL of them! Write some of them worse so I can pick!


                        I post Artifacts in this thread. How I make them is in this thread.
                        I have made many tools and other things for 3rd Edition. I now host all of my creations on my Google site: The Vault of the Unsung Hero

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                        • #13
                          Yes! Let's combine the White Plains Ranger and Swifthand Ash. It's like Western Batman and Bruce Wayne!

                          ((I just want a high social character to contrast the other quests. Got to have high guile to pull something like that off. ))
                          Last edited by wonderandawe; 10-11-2016, 11:43 AM.


                          Are you ready to rage? Discover if you are Brave Enough to fight for the soul of the world.

                          The Werewolf: the Apocalypse Quest updates on Mondays. All are welcome to vote.

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                          • #14
                            I change to the combo.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I would not object to a combo of Ash and Ranger.


                              Mouse monk riding a tiny pig avatar courtesy of the very talented forumite Jen!

                              Jen's original portrayal of Mouse Monk, featuring some human or other named Tybalt Farwander.

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