• Building a new World of Darkness

    by  • May 29, 2009 • Hobbies, RPGs • 0 Comments

    My wife is enamoured with all things Vampire, at least in their most modern incarnations:  True Blood and Twilight.  She’s played, and enjoyed, D&D, and plays Warhammer Online regularly.  And having seen the Vampire books in my office, she’s indicated several times she’d be interested in playing. I’ve had books from both incarnations of White Wolf’s World of Darkness, but [Confession Time] I’ve never played or run games with them.  My greatest experience with the system came fifteen years ago on some of the World of Darkness MUSHes that were out there.

    I considered options for a setting.  We live near Atlanta, but I couldn’t get excited about the city as a setting.  London, New York or Boston would be great, but my real world experiences there are limited.  It would require a lot more work on my part to learn enough about the areas to make them come alive for myself.  So, I decided to create my own setting city.  While building a setting would also take work, I would me infinitely more familiar with my own creation and would be able to incorporate all the elements of other cities I admired.

    New Salem as its now known is situated along the Atlantic coast, somewhere between New York and Washington.  It was originally founded in the late 16th century by English Colonists, who developed the settlement they called Fort Hope, on a peninsula of forested land jutting out between two rivers.  The city quickly became an important port, and played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.  Now, its home to about five million people.  It is still a key port, connected by river and rail lines to the interior of the country.  Research, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and industrial goods are the underpinnings of the local economy.


    Then my wife and I sat down to create her character.  We started with who “Lilly” was before she was embraced.  A rebellious heiress to a Shipping magnate, fresh out of college in the mid-1920s.  After a bitter argument with her father over settling down, she left the family home on The Heights and moved in with some of her politically active friends in a large house in Kayless, near the port.  The house was the headquarters of the communist movement in New Salem, drawing students, academics and intellectuals from around the city.  The focus of their energetic activities was breaking the iron grip of the elites on the working class.  The movement was encouraged and advised by Martin, a wealthy Dutch political activist and writer who frequented the headquarters for late night strategy sessions.  He said little, but listened carefully, and seemed to take a liking to Lilly.  The tension on the west side of New Salem grew, and eventually broke into violent encounters between the young communists and the thugs hired by the Industrialists, including Lilly’s father.  This culminated with an all-out attack on the headquarters house:  A large company of thugs, longshoremen, and off-duty cops broke in, beat anyone they found, and set fire to the house.  Lilly was beaten and left for dead, one of many.

    She would have died.  But she was rescued and taken to Martin, who embraced her.  Martin, as it turns out, was Mekhet, a Carthian leader in the city who had been using the movement as both a herd and a goad against New Salem’s Invicitus leadership.  After being pushed a bit too hard, someone pushed back, and after the attack on the Communists, sought out and captured Martin.  They discovered Lilly, his illegal childe.  She was walled up inside the concrete foundation that was poured at the site of the old headquarters, and left to starve and fall into torpor.   Only to awaken eighty years later…


    Having run through this prologue with Allyson helped me flesh out several areas of the city, both physically and politically.  I’ve not made any decisions about the NPCs for the Chronicle, I know that the city will still be in the capable hands of an Invictus Prince.

    New Salem

    New Salem


    Michael has been writing professionally for print, television and the internet for thirty years. As a Senior Producer at CNN International, he examined the future of technology with dozens of brilliant scientists, philosophers and entrepreneurs on the acclaimed series Future Summit. Before that, in the CNN International newsroom, he helped lead the production of award winning coverage of news like the 9/11 attacks, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the devastating 2004 tsunami in Asia. As a director, he has created a dozen short films in the last seven years. He lives with his wife, dog, four cats and two horses in the suburbs of Atlanta.


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