The Campain Structure series:
Back To Basics Part 1: Adventure Structures
Back To Basics Part 2: Campaign Structures
Back To Basics Part 3: Example: The White Tower
Back To Basics Part 4: Example: The Belt Of Terra
In my recent posts on campaign structure (refer the panel above), I made a big point of the need to foreshadow key events, situations, and characters. One reader wrote back asking if I had any tips for doing so, because it never seemed to work out right for him. So, here we go:
‘Events’ in this context refer to large-scale developments in the campaign background or setting. Changes in Government Policy, Invasions by Orcs, Magic Ceasing To Function – that sort of thing.
It’s important for such major changes to be foreshadowed because they are far less believable when they come out of the blue. Successful foreshadowing implies that the hints of what was to come were there to be read, if only people (read: The PCs) had interpreted them more closely.
|A word of warning: Large-scale events in a campaign usually imply that someone or something – be it a plotter, a conspiracy, or economic factors – is responsible. The PCs will usually want to do something about whoever it is, and – if possible – do something about the consequential events. Plan accordingly.|
Each of the examples cited would respond best to a different foreshadowing technique or group of techniques. Between them, they should encompass just about all the options. So let’s look at each example and consider ways to successfully foreshadow its occurrence within a campaign.
Changes In Government Policy
These never happen in isolation; there is always a triggering event, or sequence of events. Those events can be political or military or economic or social or just about anything else you can think of, providing that the triggering events are widespread enough or significant enough. In fact, when you come down to it, such changes are always a response to one of two possible causes:
- A sudden emergency
- A growing need or trend
A sudden emergency
The only real difference between these two is that a “sudden emergency” doesn’t give forewarning, it comes out of the blue.
You may be asking, ‘Doesn’t that contradict the entire concept of foreshadowing?’ – if so, the answer is no.
An emergency is caused by someone or something. To foreshadow the response to the emergency without compromising the surprise element of the emergency itself, all that is needed is ensure the players have heard of the the cause. Floods can be foreshadowed by a weather report forecasting heavy rain. A terrorist attack can be foreshadowed by a media report about trouble in the region from which the terrorists derive (or, worryingly, by a sudden silence from such areas), or by a politician railing against terrorists, or by well, anything that would remind the players that such groups exist in the game world.
More exotic solutions can be the release of a disaster movie (that correctly forecasts the crisis to come – at least in part), prophetic visions, rumors, or even news of a similar disaster elsewhere, or side-effects of the precursor events. The latter is used in both Volcano and Dante’s Peak. These build-ups can be quick or slow, as the GM sees fit – the only rule is not to be too consistent about the timing; some events should be brought to a slow boil, while others should be an explosive ramp-up.
A growing need or trend
This is even easier – all that needs to be done is to show the growing need or trend and have people talk about it. An example from forthcoming events in my superhero campaign: The political party in power when the game starts will be strong supporters of the PCs organization, and will lend them public and political support. The opposition party will be placed in the difficult position of opposing something popular (the PCs organization) or seeking to establish control over it. At the same time, there will be numerous other problems which will make the existing government unpopular with the electorate, despite the boost in popularity that they get from associating with the PCs, so the election will be a line-ball decision. By the time a general election rolls around, both party’s policies will be well-established by news reports and political analysts – so any change of government policy will follow a change of government, one that almost everyone can see coming. Even if the existing party is returned, they will be forced to compromise their support of the team. The election outcome is the event that triggers the change in policy, and the pre-election build-up is the foreshadowing.
Invasion By Orcs
This type of event requires a different style of foreshadowing because the PCs do not have direct access to the news. To properly foreshadow this event, the best approach is a four-step process:
- Establish a pattern of orcish attacks on outlying regions. The aftermath of a few of these will be found by the PCs, but most will simply be rumor and traveler’s reports, and widely exaggerated.
- Once the PCs have had time to get used to this pattern, have it stop suddenly. No announcements, no commentary, just stop all mention of the Orcs. Only when a player asks about the fact that you haven’t mentioned them in a while (or some equivalent statement) will you announce “Actually, come to think of it, you haven’t heard much about them lately.” No explanations, and keep it as off-hand as possible.
- At this point, let the PCs stumble across altars out in the wilderness on which various wild animals known to be totems of power to the Orcs have been sacrificed.
- Finally, wherever the PCs happen to be when the Orcs actually invade, let someone – it might be a nearby NPC or the party cleric or whatever – experience a vision of untold swarms of Orcs crossing a rise, thick as ants.
Magic stops working
This is another situation that I’m working up to in one of my campaigns, and that’s telling no secrets! In this case, I have established in the campaign background that magic is becoming increasingly unreliable, and that the mages have discovered various stopgaps like drawing magic circles in the earth to overcome this. These started out being just a circle, and have now become extremely elaborate – to achieve the same effect. The trend is obvious, so much so that the central goal in the campaign is doing something about it.
Foreshadowing A Situation
A “situation,” in this context, is a personal event or crisis. Foreshadowing such an event involves the introduction and gradual alteration of a character (usually an NPC) who is central to the situation.
Again, here are a trio of examples to illustrate the process:
An old friend of one of the PCs gets into serious trouble with gambling debts.
This is a situation in which the foreshadowing consists of three steps:
- Introducing the friend;
- Providing subtle clues that the old friend is a gambler;
- Letting the PC discover that the friend has secretly been in moderate financial trouble for reasons unrelated to his gambling.
All this makes it abundantly plausible when the friend is attacked for gambling debts, or comes to the PC desperate for help because he needs to raise a hundred thousand dollars in a day or two, or however the GM wants to introduce the main plotline.
Without it, the player has no time to get invested in the relationship with the NPC and won’t care two hoots when he gets into trouble – oh, he can feign it, because the NPC is the PCs friend, but he won’t feel it.
A family member acquires a terminal illness
This is slightly more involved than the gambling debts problem because you want to elicit a stronger reaction from the PC. That means more involvement with the character in advance of the real crisis, and hence a longer lead-up.
- Once again, as the first step, we introduce the character, making sure that there is some reference to his sporting or exercise activities (even if it’s as simple as “he’s carrying a squash racket”).
- The character gets a promotion or his business picks up – anything to keep him from getting his regular workout for a while.
- Introduce the character’s wife and children.
- Have the character get mixed up in some sort of incidental way with some other plotline. Make it convincing enough and the player will think that this second plotline involvement is the reason for the character’s presence in the campaign, and let the guard down.
- A couple of social encounters with the character and his family will continue to lull the player into a false complacency.
- On one of those social encounters, the NPC will experience shortness of breath and complain that he can never seem to find the time to exercise properly any more.
- At another social encounter, the character will complain about being tired all the time, but will be otherwise enthusiastic about the future.
- As social encounters continue, the character will lose weight, at first slowly and then drastically. This is so opposed to what the player would be expecting of someone who has stopped exercising regularly that it should worry the PC. He might even go so far as to insist that the NPC go to the Doctor for a check-up. By now, the relationship between the two characters – PC and NPC – should be firmly established.
The stage is now set for the NPC to learn that he has a terminal illness. If I were running this plotline, I would research the stages to acceptance of such illnesses, then develop subsequent encounters with the PC reflecting those.
Of course, once the illness is established, there is no longer any need for the NPC; depending on the GM’s plot needs, he can die in an unrelated accident, or go downhill rapidly.
As with the gambling example, the key to making this plotline plausible is the slow build-up that establishes the relationship between the PC and the NPC, then putting the PC almost in the position of trying to convince the GM that there is something wrong. Forcing the PC into that stance forces him, subconsciously, to accept the situation and to defend that acceptance vehemently. In effect, he takes the clues that the GM has offered and uses them to do three-quarters of the work of convincing him of the situation on his own.
An obsessed NPC begins stalking the PC
Most cases of stalking involve a trigger event, some act of courtesy or friendliness that the stalker misinterprets. This can be as subtle as a look in their direction (or even a look straight down the barrel of the camera), or as overt as sticking up for the NPC because the PC doesn’t like the way some bullies are treating them. It can even be as little as the stalker identifying with the subject’s situation or history. Once the stalker starts to fixate, no further stimulus is required for the ‘relationship’ to develop; they think the subject is speaking to them, or that they are the perfect partner to the subject, the cure to all their ills (even if those troubles were fictional to start with). Even denials and outright rejection are often not enough to deter the obsessed character.
Translating all that into in-game events generally requires a slightly less subtle approach.
- The stalker needs to be established as a personality. The target PC needs to know that the NPC exists. The NPC should exhibit some form of emotional instability, though they may mask it well.
- A trigger event occurs as a subplot within some other plotline. This could simply be the NPC seeing an interview with the PC, but this plotline generally works better if the PC saves the life of the NPC, or comes to their rescue in some way. Failing that, something needs to throw the two of them together briefly – making the lab partners, or making the stalker president of the AV club who is setting up the equipment for a media event or press conference, for example. In D&D terms, good solutions are the confrontation with bullies, or the PC accidentally knocking a (fragile) object out of the hands of the NPC and then apologizing and replacing the broken item.
- The initial obsession should result in behavior and actions that the PC is not aware of. Collecting photos or news clippings or other souvenirs, for example.
- The second stage should come when the NPC alters his clothes to either look like those of the PC, or to make the NPC appear “more attractive” to the PC. If the PCs favorite colour is red, the NPC will start wearing something red all the time.
- letters and gifts from the NPC should start arriving. Initially, these will be sweet or thoughtful. As this phase progresses, they should become more and more disturbed and disturbing. Often, these will be unsigned, or anonymous in some way – “Your True Love” or something along those lines.
- The PC should gradually become aware that the NPC is nearby at unusual times, unusually often.
- Declarations of affection and support should be daily.
- When the PC confronts the NPC, it signifies that foreshadowing is complete and the player is ready to ‘accept’ that the NPC is a full-blown stalker. The NPC will begin performing extreme actions to get the attention of the PC, becoming more and more unbalanced. Attempted or even successful murder of rivals for the PCs affections; Kidnapping the PC; bizarre rituals to cleanse the PC of the ‘mental control’ exerted by others that is forcing the PC to reject the NPC’s advanced, deciding that they are meant to be together in the next life and not this one (intended Murder/Suicide), and so on.
The progression is to start with an ordinary encounter and use an unnatural recurrence of events to slowly suggest that the NPC has developed an unhealthy fixation.
The most (deliberately) over-the-top example in media that I can point to are the two episodes of The Flash (TV series) in which Mark Hamil appears as The Trickster. This can also be useful reference because you only have to tone it down a little and slow the development a little for it to become completely plausible in a roleplaying setting, and – because it is so over-the-top – the phases of activity can be more easily identified.
Another fruitful avenue of research is to consider the stalker to be “addicted” to the PC. Researching and applying the stages of alcoholism to such a relationship over a period of time can produce an utterly believable situation.
Foreshadowing A Character
Completing the trio of types of foreshadowing is one that crosses over with the previous examples: foreshadowing a character. This essentially means making the players aware of the existence of a given identity or role before that character or the NPC who fills that role actually appears in the campaign. Such foreshadowing comes in three basic flavors: Tertiary, Secondary, and Primary.
Tertiary foreshadowing is three steps removed from the actual character being foreshadowed. It doesn’t name the character or describe directly anything concerning the character; instead it describes the consequences of actions carried out by the character or in his name. At its most effective, these hints (properly read) give the background of the character being foreshadowed, or at least its most recent highlights.
- “Did you hear that someone bought the Mill, outright?”
- “The Thugs all had this business card for the Artemus Foundation in their wallets.”
- A vision of an exploding galaxy disturbs your sleep.
- News Report: “An influx of new investment drove the Stock Market up today.”
- “They say a mysterious figure dressed all in golden silk and wearing a red mask paid them to attack us.”
- News Report: “Wanted criminals continue to elude the FBI. All indications are that they have gone to ground somewhere and are staying out of sight. An FBI spokesman stated that the criminals had, in effect, ‘locked themselves up’ but that sooner or later they would make a mistake and be discovered.”
Secondary foreshadowing name-checks the character or role responsible, but does not directly involve the character.
- “I heard that nobody has ever seen this mysterious Archer Newberry who bought the mill. The whole deal was done by lawyers and messengers carrying instructions and gold.”
- “The Artemus Foundation is a non-profit research organization seeking to develop new methods of criminal rehabilitation. It was founded by a recluse, Hugh Maleric Ashton, supposedly after a neighbor was robbed. No-one knows where Ashton comes from, or where he got his money. He is also going to sponsor the next US Open Golf tournament, in the name of the Foundation.”
- “He’s a refugee from another galaxy, which he says was blown up by the army of the warlord Anachron, and wants to know if he can stay here.”
- News Report: “A series of brilliant investment coups today made Lincoln Shade the wealthiest man in the world, and an overnight trillionare. Although initially suspected of insider trading, an SEC investigation of the transactions showed them to be legitimate. Shade, trading under a number of pseudonyms, fronts, and agents, seems to possess an uncanny ability to forecast the market’s reactions to other acquisitions and sales. Mr. Shade declined to be interviewed.”
- “This is the third mysterious figure in gold silk and a red mask that we’ve found and taken down. None of them know why they did it, if they are to be believed, and they all report having dreams of a Golden Castle in the clouds.”
- News Report: “In a daring jailbreak today, convicted killer Warton Melange, better known as Cyberslay, escaped custody. Cyberslay was broken out of prison by several of the FBI’s ‘most wanted’ list, none of whom had any previous known affiliation with each other. The FBI are speculating that some organizing mastermind, who they have named ‘Mr Zero’, was gathering an elite group of criminals for some nefarious purpose. An unnamed FBI source told BNS News that the name signified the fact that the FBI knew absolutely nothing about ‘Mr. Zero’.”
The third and final type of foreshadowing involves one of three things: A direct representative of the character being foreshadowed and who therefore knows something about him; a direct appearance by an NPC who will eventually be discovered as the character being foreshadowed; or a direct communication from the character being foreshadowed.
- The Mill is closed. A note on the door reads, “This primitive abomination is closed and will be demolished on behalf of the owner, Archer Newberry. All employment is terminated; all former employees are released from their contracts.” Nearby, a farmer with a wagonload of wheat sacks is worrying about whether he can reach the nearest alternative in Wikleshore before nightfall, and how much they will charge – and whether he will earn enough from the flour to pay his taxes. As he prepares to saddle up, another farmer arrives to announce that the Mill at Wikleshore has been closed by its new owner, can he get his wheat milled here?
- NPC: “Hi, I’m Quince Peartree. I’m a reporter for the Wallowing Gazelle and I’m conducting an investigation into the mysterious ‘Hugh Maleric Ashton’. I wonder if I could have a few minutes of your time?” PC: “You’re joking, right? You couldn’t come up with a better pseudonym than that? So, who are you, Really?”
- Announcement on all radio frequencies, worldwide, simultaneously, in the local language: “People Of the Milky Way Galaxy: By granting refuge to a known agitator and terrorist, your galaxy has committed an act of war against the Empire of Anachron. You have 24 hours to surrender or military operations may commence against you without further notice.”
- News Report: “Lincoln Shade today announced the conversion of his entire holdings into the purchase of the national debts of several neighboring small countries and issued foreclosure proceedings against the governments of those countries due to their inability to meet their debt burdens in timely fashion. He has also issued eviction notices to all residents of those countries, pending the resolution of his foreclosures. Legal council to the United Nations stated that there was nothing illegal in these actions, which have the potential to create a refugee problem of unparalleled magnitude. Shade has warned that squatters who remain on his private property will be shot without warning.”
- A PC discovers a clue in the national record: Twelve years ago, a gnome came to the Royal Court seeking funds to develop a device he had devised called a ‘Dreammaker’. He was turned away by the father of another PC, who served as a minor bureaucrat in the court at the time, and reportedly left for the Kingdom of Dallac in the hopes of securing backing there.
- “Mr. Zero”‘s Henchmen were just spotted near the Cowsill Point Nuclear Reactor…
While it can help if you have an idea as to where the plot being foreshadowed is going to head, it’s often not strictly necessary. In the case of some of the examples given above, the nature of the ultimate encounter with the character being foreshadowed is pretty obvious. The foreshadowing leads to an inexorable confrontation of some type. But with the Mill plot, for example, all I know is that someone is undermining the economy and food production of the country or region – who “Archer Newberry” is, and why he’s done the things attributed to him, I have absolutely no idea.
A Big Example
I’m going to wrap this article up with a big example from the planning for my Superhero campaign, an entire character plot arc that will form a subplot for several years of game play before coming to a head. The basic plotline for this plot arc was developed in collaboration with Blackwing’s player, after assessing the character’s current mental and emotional state, and the vulnerabilities that result. In particular, it was decided that the character is currently:
- Inclined to trust anyone who seems supportive;
- Inclined to mistrust his own judgment; and,
- Susceptible to feelings of frustration and doubt.
In this plot, someone publishes a book that would destroy the PCs’ reputations, and they must ride out the media storm that results without making things worse.
Foreshadowing is used very carefully in a number of ways in this plot arc: The NPC is established before they have any plot significance; the relationship itself develops naturally, with occasional stumble; the NPC plays a prominent role in several other plotlines unrelated to their main plot; and the lengths to which the character will go in order to achieve their goals is established quite early in the developing relationship.
Oh, yes: the discerning may note that this was based on, and in parts echoes, a plotline from The West Wing.
Dismembering The Code:
BW identifies the plot arc. This is an abbreviation of “Blackwing Plot Arc”.
Each major event or step in the plot arc is then indicated by a two digit number – “00, 01,” and so on.
Some events are broken down into substeps, indicated by an alphabetic character – “BW03a” for example. These either occur simultaneously or successively – this usually clear from context.
Some substeps are so significant that they are further broken down into events, also identified with a two digit numeric code, for example “BW17h01″.
If you study the events of the plot arc closely, you will notice that some of them have been shifted in order to better fit in with other events and plotlines.
“BW” refers to Blackwing. Aside from the team brick, he’s also a detective. And a living dimensional interface, though that doesn’t really play much of a role in this plot arc.
“RA” refers to the “Runeweaver Addiction” plot arc in which one of the PCs is found to be addicted to magical power-ups.
“St B” is often used as an abbreviation for “Saint Barbara”, the team leader and media spokesman, named for the patron saint of artillerymen and others who deal with explosives.
“Champs” and “Z-3″ are both abbreviations for the PCs team. “The Champions” are their parent team, and the team’s public profile; to the parent team, this group of characters are known as “Zenith-3″.
“V” refers to Vala, a psionic member of the team with emphasis on information-gathering abilities.
“IMAGE” are the government agency which has been put in charge of liaising with the PCs. While they have no direct authority over them, the PCs operations would be greatly hampered if IMAGE were opposed to them.
“BC” refers to “The Bright Cutter”, which is the team’s (slightly small) starship, and the self-aware computer system that runs it. Another major plotline deals with the question of whether BC is a member or a slave to the PCs – one of several plots relating to the rights of “artificial people”.
The Plot Arc
- BW00 – St B meets the reporter when both appear on a Talk Show.
- BW01 – Meet Reporter – after RA13
- BW02 – First Date w/reporter – after RA15
- BW03 – Second Date w/reporter interrupted by emergency (BW has to leave, reporter tries to convince him to take her with him) – after RA16
- BW03a – Reporter files story on the emergency & on Champs readiness to go into action at any time – sympathetic piece
- BW04 – Third Date w/reporter – after RA25 – an emergency right in front of them – she meets rest of team – date resumes afterward – steps up the seduction, first sex (at her place)
- BW04a – The morning after
- BW05 – “On The Job” encounter, Reporter gives info that helps in a case (Lunar city?)
- BW05a – Reporter uses insights to give a more thorough report than anyone else
- BW06 – “On The Job” encounter, reporter gets into trouble trying to “get closer to the story”, was confident BW would rescue her
- BW06a – Reporter files inside story of the mission – first arguement?
- BW07 – Fourth Date w/reporter – asks for more explanation about something, puts finger on weak point of incomplete St B press conference, sex at her place
- BW07a – BW’s expanded explanation is used to clarify press conference/official line – second arguement?
- BW08 – Reporter comes across trouble, calls BW
- BW08a – Reporter files inside story of the mission
- BW09 – Fifth Date w/reporter, asks BW to spend the night (her place)
- BW10 – Sixth Date called off (her deadline), Reporter asks if she can meet BW at base later, spends the night in his room
- BW10a – The next morning meet staff and computer. NB: NO story follows, builds trust
- BW11 – Team uses reporter to leak a story to bait a trap – reporter warns there will be a quid-pro-quo sometime
- BW12 – Reporter again spends night in BW’s bedroom – gets inside scoop on a mission but doesn’t use it, makes a point of that with other team members / base security
- BW13 – Big story inadequately explained – Reporter calls in favor from BW11 for the real story, manages to spin it to protect the real secret while giving the inside story – trust escalates
- BW14 – Reporter asks to spend a day “on the job” with each team member, doing an “in-depth” profile for a series
- BW14a – A day with St Barbara (BW’s reaction)
- BW14b – A day with BW
- BW14c – A day with RW
- BW14d – A day with Kzin
- BW14e – A day with Vala
- BW14f – A day with the Knightly Building + Bright Cutter
- BW15 – In-depth profile series appears, revealing insights into team personalities & history that team might have wanted to keep private, but that might have been identified by a keen observer
- BW16 – A big story that the team had been hoping to sweep under the rug is exposed by the reporter – focus attention on the ethical conflict the reporter has been “dealing with”
- BW17 – rumors of a forthcoming book, a tell-all expose being written under a pseudonym, reach the team via a gossip column
- BW17a – St B is able to verify that there IS a book
- BW17b – IMAGE ask Vala & BW to investigate the book to discover what is in it
- BW17c – Vala & BW are able to ascertain that whoever wrote it has received a six-figure advance
- BW17d – Vala + BW are able to get their hands on a partial galley – revelations are dynamite – BW as a convicted Killer, RW as something akin to a Drug Addict, St B as a sexual predator, Kzin as a human-hating megalomaniac, Vala as a revenge-thirsty invader of secrets, off-dimensional origins of the team, team as a political tool brought in to shore up support for the Throne
- BW17e – Reporter asks BW about the rumored book
- BW17f – Vala discovers that the reporter is the author – as she uncovers a new chapter describing the team reaction to the book – does she tell BW?
- BW17g – Resolve the reporter plotline – she reveals that the sex was great but only a means to an end, “the people have a right to know who and what they are dealing with – I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again”
- BW17h – The book is published. Effects, aftermath: “The Crucible Of Opinion”
- BW17h01 – copies are distributed to all members, instructions to review them immediately, anywhere in the book they are mentioned – we have to know what to expect in fallout
- BW17h02 – St B reacts to content questioning her morality and trustworthiness
- BW17h03 – BW reacts to content suggesting that he is a corrupt ex-cop and a homicidal killer
- BW17h04 – RW reacts to content describing him as a drug-addicted ex-soldier who lives in a fantasy world with little resemblance to reality
- BW17h05 – Hevth reacts to content describing him as a fanatic incapable of loyalty
- BW17h06 – V reacts to content describing her as a naive pawn, incapable of self-assertion or critical self-analysis
- BW17h07 – BC reacts to content describing him as a servile automaton with delusions of independence
- BW17h08 – KB reacts to content describing it as a failed, even dangerous, experiment in machine intelligence which has been corrupted into thinking itself the equal of a living being
- BW17h09 – “The staff want you to know that you have our full support. We’ve got your abck, just tell us what you want us to do.”
- BW17h10 – St B reacts to content about the other members
- BW17h11 – Gov’t reacts to content – “The Champions have our full confidence.”
- BW17h12 – RW reacts to comments about the other members
- BW17h13 – Media requests for interviews go ballistic – they weren’t this heavy even when the team first arrived
- BW17h14 – Hevth reacts to content about other members
- BW17h15 – Public opinion is strongly polarized by the book. Those who distrusted or opposed the team already attack with venom, those who supported them defend them with passion.
- BW17h16 – BC reacts to content about the other members
- BW17h17 – The initial media response fans the flames of the vitriolic election campaign currently underway – “the timing is simply too coincidental to be plausible” for some. The book is seen as an attempt to deflect attention from the very real political problems of the Empire. Curiously, some attack Z-3 for participating in such a loathsome charade, while others consider them victims of a bureaucracy capable of any extreme.
- BW17h18 – The Knightly Building reacts to contents about the members
- BW17h19 – A spokesman for the former government condemns the new government for their lukewarm support of the team, describing the official response as “damning with insincere platitudes”. They point out that they were fully supportive, and that the Throne encouraged this; but the reformers first act apon assuming power was to order the team to disband. This latest statement shows that the government cannot be trusted and should never have been elected and should now be impeached.
- BW17h20 – Protesters begin to assemble at the Knightly building. Police and security are concerned, caution against inflaming the situation.
- BW17h21 – BW reacts to content about other members and the knowledge that his relationship with the author led to all this
- BW17h22 – Media begin showing news footage & photographs of BW and the author together in public. Some suggest that the Champions actively encouraged the book as a ‘safe’ way of leaking things without putting the public offside, and that the new gov’t disbanding the team was a response to learning these secrets and distancing themselves from the team. Others suggest that she has sanitized the book, and there is a lot worse still hidden.
- BW17h23 – Vala reacts to content about other members and to their reactions to everything that is going on.
- BW17h24 – IMAGE (ie the civil service) demands an official media policy & press conference to deal with the book. “Control the message or the message will control you.”
- BW17h25 – Team meeting about these events to agree on a response
- BW17h26 – The team hold a press conference
- BW17h27 – Security report that fans and supporters of the team have started to gather for a 24-hour vigil of support outside the Knightly Building. The police are setting up cordons but things could turn ugly with any provocation – and both sides are doing their best to provoke the other.
- BW17h28 – IMAGE’s legal experts report that there is nothing actionable within the book; because they are legally0-registered eccentrics, they are not covered by or subject to normal libel laws. Legally, public or media can say anything they want to about the team.
- BW17h29 – Protestors and supporters clash, and the situation around the knightly building devolves into a riot. Police want Z-3 to stay out of it, you would only inflame the situation.
- BW17h30 – Gov’t (ie politicians) demands an increased media presence by the team over the next few days.
- BW17h31 – St B is interviewed about the book and whether it represents a breach of trust, and whether or not there’s more and worse.
- BW17h32 – V is interviewed about her relationship with St B. Interview is constantly disrupted by religious extremists.
- BW17h35 – Hevth is interviewed about his loyalty and trust issues
- BW17h34 – RW is interviewed about the allegations in the book concerning him.
- BW17h36 – BC is interviewed (remotely) about his role in the team and how long he’s been with them etc.
- BW17h33 – BW is interviewed about his relationship with the author. When did it end? Does he feel betrayed? Does he still have feelings for her? etc
- BW17h37 – St B is (sympathetically) interviewed about the reasons for secrecy
- BW17h39 – BW is invited to return serve on the author and spill any dirt she doesn’t want to be public.
- BW17h40 – RW is asked how his teammates really feel about the book
- BW17h38 – V is asked how all this looks from an alien perspective.
- BW17h41 – Hevth is asked what he really thinks of his teammates
- BW17h42 – BC is asked about his relations with the team and why they have kept him a secret
- BW17h43 – St B is informed that the media are beginning to find other news to occupy them, and that the media storm roused by the book is fading. There remain the usual number of requests to interview her (as much because ratings always spike when she appears as because of the current situation), and there are a few requests for Blackwing – normally an unpopular interview subject – because of his close relationship with the author, but that the real media darling to have come out of the whole episode is the Bright Cutter – they can’t get enough of him. Requests to interview him are running two-to-one compared to St B’s normal – they are calling him the “forgotten Champion”. The current expectation is that the book will be a three-day wonder, and this is day three.
- BW17h43a – Vala, RW, and Hevth are informed that they have no extraordinary media requests for today and can resume their normal schedules.
- BW17h44 – BW is interviewed, but the focus is on his new-found eligibility. What sort of girl does he like? Or has this whole experience soured him on women? After the interview, the reporter tells him to chin up, he’s almost out of the goldfish bowl – the public are losing interest in the story, and the press will soon follow. And, in case he’s gotten the wrong idea, she’s happily married already!
- BW17h45 – Bright Cutter is interviewed about his impressions of the Empire. How much of it has he seen? What did he like? Where else has he been? How did it compare?
- BW17h46 – St B is interviewed about the difficulties of those in sensitive positions maintaining outside relationships in general. The book is never explicitly mentioned.
- BW17h47 – BC is interviewed about his perspective on the political questions. He dodges the briar patch with great professionalism while reaffirming an overall moral stance.
- BW17h48 – St B is interviewed about the coming season’s fashions, and her uniforms, and whether or not she would ever consider letting a professional designer work with her wardrobe choices.
- BW17h49 – BC is interviewed about his perspective on religious issues. He again avoids trouble without offending anyone. Several church Ministers try to trip him up but it quickly becomes clear that he is VERY expert in theology, has read every Holy Book on Earth=Halo, has perfect recall, and can quote from them at length. He soon has them tied in knots over their refusal to denounce criminal acts (base on West Wing episode I). If he keeps this up, she might be able to hand over the job of Media Liaison.
- BW17h50 – St B is advised that the BC has accepted an invitation to be interviewed by one of the most controversial religious right-wing fundamentalist figures on the radio, something every other member of the team has managed to avoid by listening to the advice of IMAGE’s media dept.
- BW17h51 – BC is interviewed by the radical fundamentalist reporter. He is polite for a while and then takes total control of the interview, publicly humiliating her over her extremist position. (base on the religious critique in the West Wing). It looks like it’s going to be a whole new PR disaster for the team, but at the very end he confirms his support for religious tolerance and the rights of individuals to choose for themselves; he doesn’t have any final answers, and even if he did they would not apply to humans anyway. What he cannot abide is religious intolerance and bigotry and evil cloaked in the pretence of righteousness. He then reminds her that she insisted that he reveal his thoughts on the subject.
- BW17h52 – BC is finally asked what he thinks about the contents of the book. He systematically tears its credibility to shreds, while maintaining that on the occasions he met “Miss Lawrence” she was not at all biased or deceptive; he is quite sure that the book was reedited by an unknown third party to attack the team’s credibility, putting the most hostile spin possible on every statement it contains.