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  • Help me flesh out my PC's backgrounds

    So here's the deal. My PC's are all 10 year old girls. They're in a foster home/institution situation that's designed to "provide a supportive environment for troubled young adults." For once, this isn't an evil institution. The PC's are about to get a project to research their family institution and background.

    What I want is two-fold. One, I want each of them to have ended up in the institution through some action of the supernatural. Two, I want each of them, somehow, to be the descendant of one particular mage (noted by a particular tattoo, which they have already seen).

    So what I need to do is plant things for them to find, hints at supernatural events killing off their families, and finding out about this ancestor. Which means I need to decide on how exactly the supernatural was involved in killing their families. I want them to get the idea that they were targeted because of this connection to the mage, but not by the same group (as in, it's not going to be the same type of supernatural targeting each pc's family). Any ideas on this score?

    Autumn was born and raised for the first few years of her life in coastal Maryland, where her father worked as a crab fisherman, her mother was a waitress. It was a stable life, though the long hours her parents worked left her alone often and produced a fiercely independent child. That changed when, while spending an evening alone together, her parent's boat was taken by a sudden storm and was lost. Autumn was placed in the care of her paternal grandfather, who lived in the hills of Pennsylvania. He was a tough old man and taught his granddaughter to be self sufficient, a necessity when living so far away from others. The hill country was a wild place, full of primeval forests hiding animals and, some believed, even bigfoot. Grandfather Craig didn't put any belief into those rumors, and Autumn trusted that. He did, however, warn her away from one of the fields near the small town where she went to school. It was a historic site, a Civil War battlefield, and her grandfather swore up and down the place was haunted. Many of the locals agreed. Autumn went there once, sneaking out of school at lunch time, and found nothing but an empty field and a man using a metal detector to look for old things. He even gave her an old musket ball, but she had to keep it secret. A few years later, her grandfather died in his sleep. A heart attack, they'd told her. Autumn was left with no other relatives, and was moved into the foster home system.



    Christina originally lived in Salem, Massachusetts. Her father left when she was young, leaving her mother to raise the young girl by herself. Her mother worked at the Salem Witch Museum, as an archivist, and when she couldn't find a babysitter she took Christina to work and let her play in the office. Early exposure to the museum, and the collected artifacts of the Salem Witch Trials, led Christina to take an interest in the occult from a young age. She devoured every book she could find, reading the words out loud to herself late into the night. Then her mother died in an "accident." The police wouldn't tell her what had happened, only that her mother was gone, and Christina had nowhere to go. Lacking other options, she was shipped off to foster care. Since then she has become dour and withdrawn, and prone to bouts of muttering under her breath. Occasionally she mentions Salem, and how the atmosphere felt... somehow oppressive, in the weeks before her mother died.


    Elise has never known a true home besides the institution. She was dropped in there since very little and no-one seems to be able to give a straight answer about her origins, to the point when she stopped asking. She has bounced around too many foster families already, despite being a quiet and well-manered kid. It just...never seems to work out. She's technically attained "seniority" status now, having been in there for the longest time, despite many being older than her.


    Autumn's the hard one so I need the most help there.

    Last edited by WarKitty; 10-11-2016, 01:27 PM.

  • #2
    Autumn: Creature From the Black Lagoon
    Christina: Candyman, Candyman, Candyman
    Elise: Elise from the future

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    • #3
      In all seriousness, I'd probably play it like this.

      Autumn's parents died at the hands of a deep sea monster. Scylla. or Charibidis. Or the Kraken. or Harpies. Maybe it was a Beast. More likely it was a creaturesummoned by rival mages or a being devoted to protecting the relics they were in search of. It's not a thing of intelligence, but the one thing it knows is that she will come for it. It hungers. It imprinted with her parents. Her blood is on its tongue. And deep down, she knows that it's her white whale.

      Christina killed her mother. She doesn't know that, but she did. She loved reciting old rituals. It became a panacea, a way to ease her nerves. She tore through esoteric tomes, read them all aloud. She didn't know that the ritual she recited would bring forth a creature from beyond the veil. She didn't know that her mother would die trying to keep it from this world. She still doesn't know. Still doesn't know that it lurks just on the other edge of her reality, tied to her, peering at her as she evaluates herself in the mirror, waiting for the opportunity when she will become the vessel for its return.

      Elise's parents were bad. Bad. Bad. Not good. Maybe they were the rivals of Autumn's parents. Regardless, they were dark sorcerers, quintessential Fausts. the type of warlocks who give mages a bad name. In their hubris, they would destroy the world. This is the apocalypse Elise grew up in, and it took everything within her to claw her way from the future and plunge the dagger into their hearts, to prevent the awakening of the world devourer.
      Last edited by dxanders; 10-12-2016, 08:46 PM.

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      • #4
        I think what people are missing is that the PC's need to be targeted specifically because they are descendants of this particular mage. Not just random supernatural reasons - something has to be going after their families specifically.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by WarKitty View Post
          I think what people are missing is that the PC's need to be targeted specifically because they are descendants of this particular mage. Not just random supernatural reasons - something has to be going after their families specifically.
          "People" meaning me?

          And yeah, I see what you mean. I misread your post the first time through. Good luck with it.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by dxanders View Post

            "People" meaning me?

            And yeah, I see what you mean. I misread your post the first time through. Good luck with it.

            Ah yeah, I totally didn't see that both those posts were from you. Thanks for the reply, at least!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by WarKitty View Post


              Ah yeah, I totally didn't see that both those posts were from you. Thanks for the reply, at least!

              No problem!

              Do you know about what point of time you wanted your papa mage to live in, and how long you wanted him to be around? I mean, you could have their ancestor's history date back to hundreds of years ago, and the characters representing divergent branches in that family tree, but it could also be cool to have him be a presence in the more immediate past. This mage Gumping his way through American history, siring families in the 40s-80s, and all of the characters are only two or three steps removed from him. That would create a more intimate connection, and it would explain why his adversaries are directly interested in these three girls rather than all of the other descendants they could be focusing on. And all of their parents would be half-siblings. Oddly enough, The Venture Bros. comes to mind, what with the negligent father and the impact of living in the shadow of your parent. The characters can draw directly lines between their parents and their grandfather. Shades of Royal Tennenbaums would make sense as well.

              Alternatively, maybe tie him into the regional history? Maybe he was a founding father of the city where their school is located, a visionary who sired an expansive and rich family that, through circumstance, stupidity, and foul play has since withered down to only a few remaining living members. His influence on city politics could leave plenty of local supernaturals with an ax to grind, and I'm sure the players would be delighted to know that the school their characters attend or the park across the street or the street itself are named after their ancestor. It also gives them more immediate story hooks. The history of their shared heritage and the secrets their ancestor left behind are all embedded in the city itself. It gives you a more focused opportunity to show how their mutual histories tangle together.
              Last edited by dxanders; 10-14-2016, 03:14 PM.

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              • #8
                So the mage is actually a member (or more likely multiple members) of the DuPont family, which is a prominent local family for the area it was set in (which is conveniently the state I grew up in). The mage would have started showing up in the mid 1700's and still be alive today. He's going to show up in the story later on.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by WarKitty View Post
                  So the mage is actually a member (or more likely multiple members) of the DuPont family, which is a prominent local family for the area it was set in (which is conveniently the state I grew up in). The mage would have started showing up in the mid 1700's and still be alive today. He's going to show up in the story later on.

                  Okay, that's good information to have. Are there any more criteria to work with, in terms of who this character or the nature of the setting itself? And where is it located? That would be some good information to have.

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                  • #10
                    So the story is set in Wilmington, DE. For those not familiar, this is about 30miles outside of Philadelphia. Kind of a bland area, to be honest - generally suburban with some light industrial mixed in. Pretty big commercial port on the river, especially for importing food. Also a not entirely unpopular area for drug running, as it's on the eastern corridor between DC and Baltimore and Philadelphia and NYC. The DuPont family is a really big, well-off family in the area that's behind a lot of the jobs. They're also funding the group home the PC's live at.

                    The character himself is obviously an immortal mage and is basically the one in charge of keeping the local supernatural in check. Note that mage here is not Mage the Awakening style. Anyone can do magic, but it works on the principle of safe, ethical, and effective - pick two. (The mage in question compromised on the ethical part of that equation, although he wouldn't see it that way - especially as he only targets supernaturals for spell components.) Setting-wise, pretty much any supernatural is fair game - I want the feel of a diverse supernatural mess all waiting to fill the vacuum when the mage finally dies. The mage is the only thing keeping the area from turning into an all-out war.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by WarKitty View Post
                      So the story is set in Wilmington, DE. For those not familiar, this is about 30miles outside of Philadelphia. Kind of a bland area, to be honest - generally suburban with some light industrial mixed in. Pretty big commercial port on the river, especially for importing food. Also a not entirely unpopular area for drug running, as it's on the eastern corridor between DC and Baltimore and Philadelphia and NYC. The DuPont family is a really big, well-off family in the area that's behind a lot of the jobs. They're also funding the group home the PC's live at.

                      The character himself is obviously an immortal mage and is basically the one in charge of keeping the local supernatural in check. Note that mage here is not Mage the Awakening style. Anyone can do magic, but it works on the principle of safe, ethical, and effective - pick two. (The mage in question compromised on the ethical part of that equation, although he wouldn't see it that way - especially as he only targets supernaturals for spell components.) Setting-wise, pretty much any supernatural is fair game - I want the feel of a diverse supernatural mess all waiting to fill the vacuum when the mage finally dies. The mage is the only thing keeping the area from turning into an all-out war.

                      Oooo... Yeah, there's a lot to work with there. I'll probably have some ideas for you in a day or two, once I get done with weekend plans. Luckily, I never dug deep into Awakening at all so that's an advantage.

                      Are you open to the idea of establishing hunter conspiracies as threats, or would you prefer to keep things purely monstrous? Also, I'm assuming the DuPont Family is still a prominent force in the city. What's their relationship with their mage founder? Do they know of his existence? Are they aligned (consciously or otherwise) with his interests? And have they done an adequate enough job of tracking their genealogy to know that these girls are part of the family? Is it possible that them being shepherded to the same school (funded by their second-hand relatives) isn't a coincidence? I think there's a lot of potential in the idea that the DuPonts are subtly manipulating their redheaded stepchildren into cleaning up the existing messes in their city. And it could create some delightful tension if they're using these young women as pawns without telling their Mage granddaddy about it. Maybe there's a relationship between a direct line of the DuPont family tree and Ashwood Abbey...
                      Last edited by dxanders; 10-15-2016, 02:01 PM.

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                      • #12
                        I'm running with the idea that lately much of the family proper has been descending into general depravity. In actual recent history (like the 1990-2000's) one heir was convicted of murder and one of child molestation. I'm thinking they don't know about their connection - they're kind of too wrapped up in the general affairs of wealth and prestige to care about anything else. Tentatively thinking about the idea that he has been drawing from the proper family for hunters but there are now no suitable family members. Possibly combined with the supernatural intentionally targeting those who are suitable (so the PC's are basically the lucky ones who survived). After all, this mage is a very principled person, justifying his behavior because he only harms monsters. Think Dexter type personality, or Lawful Evil if you're familiar with D&D stuff. Other hunter cells do exist but they're basically small peanuts who don't know about the mage.

                        I definitely want to go with the idea that they are all at this group home intentionally. The plot is intended that he sees these girls as potential heirs to his position. So he wants to be found, but he's going to wait for them to show some aptitude first.

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