Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Rebuilding Canon Characters

It's been a little while since I last talked about MY writing. I don't mind if you don't. I personally liked taking a two-week time-out in order to discuss the two articles I read about procrastination. However, that time-out did cause me to completely forget what I last talked about in regards to my own writing.

In case you're like me and forgot where I last was in my own writing - and you're too lazy/pressed for time to go back and actually re-read Shadowcat and Wolverine Take Center Stage, here's a quick recap:
  • I discussed how, whenever I'm stuck, I just let a nameless/faceless narrator talk about the world of Glitches, and that usually gives me the background I need to get through the issue I'm having.
  • I discovered through letting my narrator just talk that homeless Glitches - mostly teens - were being snatched up by the government. This act simultaneously drove "Kitty" to start up the orphanage, and "Logan" to create The Orb and The Building Room as training rooms - disguised as arcade games - to teach self-defense to Glitches.
    • "Kitty" can't stand the idea of The Orb or The Building Room, and thinks that the government will see both as "terrorist training" and will use it as an excuse to attack. Therefore, not only does she deny "Logan's" request to build them at her orphanage, but she also forbids her students from using them.
  • Phfylburt's one character Lucas Kinney would most likely be one of the Glitches snatched and experimented on by the government. The reason "Logan" adopted him was that he was one of the few surviving children once "Logan" was done with his raid on the facility. The two have a weird part-fatherly/part-older-brotherly relationship similar to what Batman's Bruce Wayne has with his first Robin: Dick Grayson. 
  • After saving Kinney from the facility, "Logan" is even more determined to try to train Glitches to protect themselves. After a few years of covert training of some adult Glitches - via The Orb and The Building Room - "Logan" creates a sort of X-Men-Like task force whose duty is to protect "Kitty's" orphanage and other helpless Glitches in the area; while simultaneously trying to recruit more powerful Glitches to help train self-defense against "Norms" and the government.
    • Some of the children at the orphanage catch wind of what "Logan" is doing and sneak over to his arcade for some training as well. "Kitty's" son Chayse is essentially the head of this student brigade; much to "Kitty's" dismay.
  • At some point, Willow will either bring Devon to the arcade to introduce him to The Orb, or when hearing that Devon's loyalty is in question, "Logan" will bring him himself. Either way, Devon is going to end up using The Orb as the "Danger Room Catalyst" scene from X-Future; shattering people's trust in the poor kid.
  • I also determined that "Kitty" was more of the "bleeding heart" that wanted to peacefully do whatever was necessary to co-exist with Norms. She'd do peaceful protests, give speeches to the government and public in attempts to change their minds, and take care of the "lost children". "Logan", on the other hand, was more of a realist. He too wanted to simply co-exist, but he also knew that Glitches would need to fight for their rights; sometimes literally. He feared that being peaceful like "Kitty" would take too long and too many Glitches' lives would be lost since they wouldn't fight back in self-defense.
    • Basically, "Kitty" would be this world's Martin Luther King, Jr. while "Logan" is Malcolm X; except he wants integration as well....
  • Lastly, I tried to determine the relationship between "Kitty" and "Logan" since they're no longer co-headmasters of the Institute. I first thought they were siblings, and then I really focused on them being former lovers.
    • Some other possible connections that I debated between were "complete strangers" and "friends" and "former classmates".
Well, I didn't really get much feedback from Hubby or Phfyl about any of the other stuff I talked about for the world build, but I did get feedback on the whole "Kitty and Logan being an item" thing.

Although they have to get completely different character redesigns to become originals, Phfyl and Hubby both still see "Kitty" as a woman in her mid-twenties and "Logan" looking about 35, but is actually closer to 200+yrs old. So the idea of them being an item kind of grossed them out.

They suggested just going with "They were former students of this world's equivalent of Charles Xavier." Perhaps they weren't literally former students of "Xavier," but instead he wrote a series of essays, books, articles, or gave speeches on the idea of co-existence between Glitches and Norms. Maybe both "Kitty" and "Logan" admire this "Xavier" via his published/broadcast work, but took away two different concepts from these "teachings."

"Kitty" would pick up "Xavier's" compassion, and desire for there to be just as much peace between Glitches and Norms as there are between races in the United States. Sure, there is still racism, and it's sickening. However, for the most part, someone's race isn't an issue any longer. No one really notices it. That was what "Xavier" envisioned for the future, and "Kitty" wants to take his peaceful approach to get there: publications, speeches, public service, peaceful protests, etc.

"Logan", on the other hand, also welcomes "Xavier's" dream for mutations to matter just as little as race does, but he focuses on "Xavier's" admittance that there is still racism and violent hate crimes. He follows the teachings that "we still need to learn how to defend ourselves against such ignorance and hate."

This puts the two at odds with each other, but they still realize that they're working towards the same end-goal. While they don't approve of how the other is getting to that end, they are willing to cooperate in order to combine their efforts and reach that equality faster.

Meanwhile, you have the extremist group Challengers of Heaven. This is more akin to Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants from the actual comics. The Challengers see no need to try to co-exist with Norms. They feel that Glitches are actually the next wave of evolution in humanity. Much like Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals. So incredibly similar, but there's just something about the former that is superior to the later, and that will eventually mean the former will win Darwin's "Survival of the Fittest." However, unlike Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals, the Challengers of Heaven are making sure Glitches have a heavy hand in the extinction of Norms; allowing their "species" the ability to reign supreme - at least, until the next great evolution roughly 70,000 years from now.

In the grand scheme of villainous factions, the reboot equivalent to "The Brotherhood" is just a punk street gang comprised of Glitches. They may be the most dangerous set of mo-fos, but they have no true goal of world domination or Norm extinction. They also hire out their members as Glitch mercenaries; resulting in a lot of laying in bed with Challengers of Heaven.

While I haven't figured out too much more about "Logan" beyond what I have above, I did a little more work on "Kitty" as well as started the reworking of both "Gambit" and "Multiple-Man." I just need to finish those reworks and figure out the other Marvel Canon characters that we're bringing over to the reboot.

Regardless of all that, I still feel like I accomplished a great deal in making "Kitty" and "Gambit" more original, while still retaining enough of their canon powers for Chayse to inherit. I haven't really heard back yet from Phfyl or Hubby as to what they think about all of this - another TL; DR issue - but for right now, here's what I'm thinking.

Chayse will still have phasing due to his mother's powers, but he'll actually be the one to figure out that he can use them that way. "Kitty" will essentially have Gambit's main power of Molecular Acceleration - as the Marvel Wikia classifies it. So, the ability to make cards go bang? "Kitty's" instead of Gambit's. Considering her maternal nature, I'll have to figure out how she mostly uses such a destructive power.

The easiest way to do both that and give Chayse his advancement in to phasing is to reclassify Gambit's powers. It's now Kinetic Manipulation. Not only can it be used the way Gambit does in the comics - which is him accelerating molecules until their kinetic energy builds up; hence the power name - but classifying the power as Kinetic Manipulation means it can be manipulated the other way: reverting kinetic energy back to potential energy. I'm not entirely sure if scientifically I can make this power plausible, so it's still in the works. However, essentially this would mean "Kitty" could do things like make a speeding car decelerate faster than it normally would, have a thrown object's trajectory be cut short as it falls to the ground, or simply removing the agitated energy she had previously put in to an object; "decharging" it. Like, if Gambit in the comics starts charging up a card to become an explosive, changes his mind, and removes the kinetic energy he originally stored up in it; reverting the card in to a simple, nonexplosive piece of cardboard.

Anyway, this classification of Kinetic Manipulation would rework Gambit's powers enough that they could be hinted at - with things like making average objects explosives - but not entirely recognizable. Especially if "Kitty" mostly uses it defensively by converting kinetic energy. Chayse doesn't really make things go "boom" either when he uses his powers; aside from a box of toothpicks he keeps with him, similar to Gambit's deck of cards. He uses it mostly to charge up his own body or his whip-like belt; adding kinetic energy so that the output is greater when used.

Chayse could then discover that he can build up enough kinetic energy in himself to make his own molecules vibrate fast enough to move between the empty spaces between molecules of the item he's phasing through. Obviously, the denser the object the smaller - or fewer - the empty spaces are and the harder it is for him to phase. However, this density problem already came up in-canon with Kitty's phasing power. In theory - I don't read comics enough to know if it's stated fact in them - Kitty's power DOES work by her moving her molecules within the empty spaces of the item she's phasing through. I just gave it a new reason as to how. Also, this would mean that Chayse's power isn't really a combination of phasing and making things explode. The phasing is just a new trick he learned to do using his natural gifts.

What are the powers he inherited from "Gambit" then, if it wasn't Molecular Acceleration? Well, seems Gambit has a few other powers that are derived from that one. Much like how Chayse's phasing is now derived from his Kinetic Manipulation. See, Gambit has heightened agility and dexterity due to his ability to tap in to the kinetic energy within himself. I already stated that Chayse essentially does the same; even more so once he Ascends. Gambit also uses this Molecular Acceleration to constantly keep charged potential energy around his body that he can then harness as kinetic energy whenever needed. This is more of a reflex thing that he doesn't consciously think about, but it causes static that makes it hard for telepaths to invade his mind, and near impossible for telepaths to even detect him. Finally - and one I didn't realize was a derived power; I thought it was a secondary one - Gambit has hypnotic charm due to his ability to "charge" kinetic energy in someone's brain; activating parts needed for Gambit to manipulate the person. It's a small manipulation, but it's enough for that person to find Gambit trustworthy. Because of this hypnotic charm, Gambit can convince people to believe what he says and/or agree to whatever he suggests.

Now, while Marvel did a great job at figuring out how Gambit can use his Molecular Acceleration power in order to have a nice loaded arsenal of other powers, they all don't have to derive from that parent power. We could make our version of Gambit be a "Mind" Glitch whose primary power is Charmspeak. Now, Rick Riordan already used the exact phrase "Charmspeak" for a power a daughter of Aphrodite has. Her mother's charm and seduction flows through her, allowing people to believe anything she says if she puts enough effort behind her words. I also have a sneaking suspicion that D&D also used either that phrase or a similar one in regards to boosting a bluff score or something. So I'll have to think of an alternative classification for the power other than "Charmspeak" or "Hypnotic Charm". Although, I guess "Hypnotic Charm" would still really work.

The idea is that "Gambit" has the ability to hypnotize people through speech. His words would be so compelling that the target(s) can be easily convinced they're true, or that he's right. Now, just like normal hypnosis, the Charmspeak cannot convince anyone to do something they are morally opposed. It is also a lot harder for it to work when the target knows it's a blatant lie, or if they are also a Mind Glitch; since the heightened mental ability naturally counteracts his powers. Basically, think of this as "Bluff: The Mutant Power."

Now, a side-effect of being a Mind Glitch with the ability to convince others so easily is that his own mind is constantly on alert for such manipulation towards him. I'm not sure if this makes him completely immune to mental manipulation, or if he just has a strong resistance. Given this side-effect, Hubby and I were thinking that this might be a fun way for him and Willow's dad to have met up before the kids were born. Willow's dad Jacob tried to use his Prop Illusions power to convince "Gambit" of something. I'm still figuring out what, exactly. Maybe it was something as simple as Monopoly money being legit currency. Well, "Gambit's" resistance/immunity towards mental manipulation sees through the illusion. He decides to try to swindle the swindler, but - since Jacob is a Mind Glitch too - the Charmspeak doesn't work on Jacob. The two con-artists chat over a beer and become fast friends. Perhaps even team up for a little while before "Kitty" and Meryl tame the Cons in to going straight.

Anyway, having the Charmspeak main power also semi-explains the "Mental Firewall" - as we've been calling it in-game - but what about the agility? Switching gears from Gambit being a thief mastering in breaking and entering to "Gambit" being a swindler via hypnosis, we don't necessarily need him to be as good of a fighter any longer. So we're still debating if Chayse's agility and dexterity are still derived from the Kinetic Manipulation - like it is with Canon Gambit - or if it's a secondary power for both "Gambit" and Chayse.

We also discussed the possibility of Chayse having the odd eye coloring from "Kitty" as a side-effect of the Kinetic Manipulation. If Chayse is going to have a physical mutation from "Kitty" anyway, it might be best to keep the agility/dexterity physical mutation inherited from her as well.

Regardless, I want to avoid the "black sclera with unnatural iris color" concept since that's blatantly a Gambit design. I thought that the iris would still be a vivid, unnatural color that reflects the shade of the aura emitted when "charging" something. So Chayse would still have the neon limegreen, and "Kitty" would have a purplish red color - the color Gambit has when charging. The only trick there is that in the cyberpunk world I picture the comic to be in, wouldn't colored contacts be just an average thing? That would mean that even with his physical mutation, Chayse can pass for human. Still, Hubby wanted that subtle mutation to still be noticeable. A way for him to ALMOST pass for human, but gives him away.

Since I JUST finished watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I want to use that as an example. Dark skin, white hair, and specifically eyes with red irises were the tell-tale signs that you were a decedent of the Ishvalan race. So, maybe in this CyberPunk future it's a common thing for unnatural-colored eyes to be a sign of being a Glitch. Therefore, people wouldn't HAVE colored contacts for fear of being thought of as a Glitch? Either that, or it's a novelty thing, like people wearing red contacts to cosplay as a vampire or animal contacts to pretend they're a humanoid cat... Then again, those things aren't real which is why we cosplay as them. Would the same be true if Glitches were real? I dunno. I'm still figuring out that eye thing.

In the meantime, Hubby thought more about the issue and suggested that perhaps Chayse and "Kitty" could have their eyes completely fill with that unnatural color - lime green for Chayse; magenta for "Kitty" - when using their powers; similar to how Storm's eyes go completely white when using hers.

Things I should have been thinking about over the past few weeks, I guess....

Anyway, as I mentioned, I did manage to figure out a little bit about Lia's father Jamie as well. Again, I'm waiting for either Phfyl or Hubby to give me some sort of feedback. My biggest fear is that while I did tweak the powers, they are still essentially the same. However, I didn't really have much choice in the matter since Jamie's power to make clones of himself is fairly crucial in Lia's upbringing and subsequent personality development. I was debating having him make "clones" via astral projections so that he can always be around Lia in order to look over her. Yet, we seem to have a surplus of "Mind" Glitches in this tale, and so I wanted to branch out from that.

I thought that perhaps - and I'll have to figure out what "category" of glitch this would put him in - "Jamie" is what is known as a "Soul Splitter." He can send a part of his consciousness - or "soul" in this case, I guess - in to fresh drops of his blood, and use said soul-infused drops to create clones of himself. I'm still mentally working out the imagery of that since it's not a spontaneous blink into existence like Multiple Man's Dupes.

Just like Multiple Man, a Soul Splitter's clones are completely autonomous. However, the more clones he makes, the more of himself he "loses." If too many are out in the world it may change his very personality and/or affect his memory. It could also physically drain him since there is always a minor tug for his soul to return as one. Said "tug" is so minor that he can go years with one clone lose out in the world without it physically affecting either of them. So it's almost like the gravitational pull humans have on each other... it's there, but not noticeable. I figured if we still wanted that weird "Tyler is but isn't Jamie's son/Lia's brother" thing in the reboot we could still do so this way.

Now, while Jamie is considered "Prime" in the comics - so that one can distinguish which "Jamie" is the main one the clones came from - in our tale perhaps he's "Alpha"? I'll have to think more about that, but it seems fitting.

Anyway, perhaps Alpha's constant need for his soul to re-fuse gives him the same issue as Jamie: clones are absorbed upon skin-to-skin contact; even if he doesn't want to absorb it yet. To add to that, since they are all one soul, they have an almost telepathic/hive-mind that they can activate. This also allows "Jamie" to be just as badass as his canon form: literally do multiple things at the same time, and be able to retain the knowledge once the clone is absorbed. I might want to rethink this aspect though, since it's bringing him back too much with Marvel's version. Maybe - unless the clone physically tells Alpha - the knowledge is there due to the shared soul, but it's "locked" away. Said "locked" memories can then only be recalled/retrieved with the help of hypnosis or telepathic involvement which brings subconscious thought to the surface in order to be actively remembered. This is getting complicated!

Let's go back to the less complicated idea of how the clones "spawn". The clones can each duplicate again, just like Alpha does. They do so by splitting up the soul-piece they have, and then placing the smaller fragment in to their own fresh blood droplets. However, they can only make a limited number - say no more than 3 - and if the parent clone itself is one of a multiple amount, its ability to create more than one clone and/or the secondary clone's ability to be autonomous is reduced. For instance, if Alpha only creates up to four clones than each clone could create another three. However, if Alpha creates between 5 and 10 clones each can only create another two, or if he creates 10 to 15 clones each can only duplicate themselves once.... something like that.

Also, since the clones all draw their power from their soul-piece's connection to Alpha's Parent Soul, they are greatly affected by their proximity to him. In other words, the farther away from Alpha the clone is, the less likely he is to be able to use his powers or tap in to knowledge that wasn't stored in the "soul piece" he was birthed from. Likewise, whatever knowledge/personality Alpha used to create a clone will be hindered or even lost to him if said clone travels too far from him. By "too far" I'm talking hundreds of miles.

So, if we do keep that Tyler's father is a run-away clone of "Jamie" then the knowledge and bit of personality he used to create that clone is "locked away" from him; altering his personality slightly, causing blackouts in his memory, and making him forget the knowledge "stored" in that bit of soul.

The last thing I thought about in regards to reworking Jamie was a name change for him. While I still despirately need to come up with new names for all of the canon characters we're re-working, for some reason Jamie was the easiest one to think of alternate names for. Out of a list of nine names, my top two are Cody and Charles - shortened to either Charlie or Buck. Phfyl seems to like Cody best too, and so I'm about 99% certain that Lia's father's name will now be Cody instead of Jamie. We'll see.

To finish up today's post about X-Future, I'd like to state that after some debate I FINALLY got around to posting something new in X-Future: Snippets. I wrote this back in the end of August or beginning of September; I can't really remember. It was more-or-less a writing exercise to help me with more character development for Lia. Since it dealt with a conversation between Lia and Sasha, I sent a copy of it to Sasha's player: 2-feathers-and-a-stone.

She never sent me back any notes on how to correct Sasha, and so I'm just assuming that means I kept her well-enough in-character. Still, I wasn't sure if it was worthy to be an official Snippet. I debated just posting a link to the shared Google.Docs file as a Blog Exclusive sort of thing, but this morning I officially decided to just pull the trigger.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you my quick brainchild to help me figure out how best to play Lia in the upcoming months of game:

"Sasha's Farewell"

Next week I'll talk to you more about what I've been doing throughout September and the first portion of October. I meant to tell you now, but the recap of what I came up with after the "Shadowcat and Wolverine Take Center Stage" post went WAY longer than I anticipated!

Five hours of off-and-on writing, longer than anticipated.... Hey, at least with this sort of pacing I'll ALWAYS have something to talk about; given that I am ALWAYS behind on my updates of what I've been doing. Guess that means I can't slow down with my writing.

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