Having taken a look in our previous installments at the City and the Factions that we created for our Karma in the Dark game, its probably time that we took a look at our leads! The base unit of Karma is a team of crooks toeing the line between striving and selling out… and its these desperate folks that we’ll be following on their adventures.
Our group decided on a crew of Cleaners… that being cleaners in the Jean Reno sense, specializing cover-ups, frame jobs, and at the extreme end outright assassination. Their lair is tucked away in the guts of a long abandoned tower block in the labyrinthine heart of Metro East’s decaying coastal highrises. Though partially collapsed, the team is in the process of stripping the building for resources.
Having chosen Anarchy as their Ideal, they’re going to need all of the resources they can get… but with their Tenacious rep and a knack for getting others to take the blame for their misdeeds, if anybody’s going to get away with it.
Jury the Rigger (Tech Jockey)
The teams resident tech head and getaway driver, Jury grew up in the elegant surrounds of one of the Clan capsule communities until the orcish tusks and muscles manifested along with puberty. Packed away to a vocational education away from prying eyes, Jury makes most of his money as a mechanic down in the lower levels these days. Despite little hints of sentimentality for his upbringing, Jury prefers a world where people have a purpose of their own, rather than being viewed as disposable.
Rebellion: Consumerism, Virtue: Give new purpose to the forgotten, Look: Mechanic Chic
Having made an unceremonious exit from her Clan after an unforgivable betrayal, Evie refined her understanding of the Source to push her body past the limitations of the petty laws of physics. As a highborn and an elf, she enjoyed a more refined upbringing than her compatriots, which made the fall more even more scarring, leaving Evie distrustful and wary of authority structures. Admittedly, when you’re a Source-fueled brawler who can free-run up sheer glass walls, structures begin to feel less and less real.
Rebellion: Exploitation, Virtue: I keep my promises, Look: Goth Clergy, Jaded: Distrust
If a life spent in and out of prison taught Bertrand anything, it was how to keep his head down. With a knack for co-opting social groups and a will to collapse concentrated power, he knows that power isn’t established by violence or strength, but by having others willing to use those for you. Understated, unobtrusive and on the run, Bertrand acts as a parasite living in the body of large and dangerous factions, and for now remains undetected… only time will tell how much damage he can do.
Rebellion: Monopoly, Virtue: I will feed the hungry, Look: Grey and Greasy
Fixer: Granny Lock
The ageing matriarch of an ever larger clan of low grade street criminals, Granny Lock has her ear to a lot of keyholes, including a string of recent coffee dates with Doctor Pierce of the Tailors’ Union. Granny shifts seamlessly between nurturing and ruthless; she knows from harsh experience that the city runs on the law of the wild, but also that its impossible to survive there alone. To her, the team are somewhere between adopted wastrels and a tentative retirement plan… no sense letting such talent go to waste, after all…
Traits: Ambitious, Patient, Drive: Secure the family’s future, Circle: Organised Crime
Tune in this Sunday to see what happens when the City and the Team collide…
Well, the Liberation Industries team took to the world and character creation section of our Karma in the Dark game with characteristic gusto. The full recording of this technologically hobbled session is still available through the Whimsy and Metaphor Twitch, and should surface on our Youtube pretty soon. But for those in the Too Long, Didn’t Listen camp… I’m going to do a few quick blog posts here to summarize the results, and whet your appetites for when the next live sessions air.
Welcome to Metro East
Now Karma offers us some downright robust world building tools; though the game’s elevator pitch is probably “Blades Powered Shadowrun” its got a lot more going for it than that, and can basically handle all of your magic cyberpunk needs. It lets you build a world with a strong focus on privilege, and the exact avenues that power is expressed in that dystopia.
Naturally, we decided to set our game in Sydney, Australia. Or at least, what’s left of it.
Power is influenced by three factors in Karma, chosen by the players at the start of the campaign. Our group chose Metatype as one factor in a nod to classic Shadowrun; elves and humans have an easier time negotiating society than their goblinoid cousins. The other two factors we chose were Bloodline and Property, with family ties to the Oligarch Clans offering a measure of protection, and a citizen’s social clout strongly resting on how much capital they can bring to bear.
With that in place, we have a distinctly neo-feudal city.
Glittering Heights, Murky Depths
Even before the magical Outbreak hit, Metro East was not doing so well. With its lower levels subsiding in ever greater floodwaters and further growth choked by geographical restrictions, the skyline grew desperately taller, clawing for the sky even as the building’s foundations were swallowed by the sea. The city grew upwards in layers, like a mad termite mound.
Then the Outbreak struck, and the world changed completely. With the return of magic to the world, technology that had been the lifeblood of a globalised economy – wireless communication, positioning satellites, even long distance radio – went silent in the face of a global magical susurrus. Technology had to be rebuilt in shielded, wired form, and cities were left to fend for themselves. It is a metropolis of text-fed terminals, flickering hologram billboards, and murky phone booths with gnarled nerve-jack leads swinging in the ever present storm winds.
The crash was eighty years ago, and only now are we returning to the globalised world that was lost. So far, even the great corporations have been unable to challenge the primacy of the City States, but with more ships arriving in Metro East from abroad every day, that may be set to change.
It is a city of great divisions. Industry is driven by intensive, exploitative aquaculture and risky ocean mining, offset by a ravenous urge for respect that has manifested in a cutting edge fashion scene. The Oligarchs maintain their hold through monopolies on the most alarming magic – they say the rites of divination that keep them ahead of their rivals are unspeakably horrid – and access to the best medical care. They have developed a taste for flaunting their elegant, tailored bioware, the symbol of their coveted longevity, with the fashion for gauzy, revealing garments that display humanity’s augmented peak. For the kelp-fed poor, crude cyberware can be the difference between life and death, but social pressure often drives it to be covered; given the harsh weather, the working classes make their way in shrouds and bulky raincoats through the torrid, waterlogged industrial quarters. Life expectancy gets lower the deeper you go.
Metro East is viewed by outsiders as both an enclave of vain upstarts, and a pit of desperate criminal savagery… and both of these statements are true.
Tune in next week, and we’ll take a look at some of the City’s movers and shakers, at least in the tumbledown neighbourhood our characters inhabit. If you have any questions, drop a comment, or have a look at Cass K Designs; this game comes thoroughly recommended!
Hey hey imaginary listeners!
We are taking the Liberation Industries magic into the modern age with the help of Whimsy and Metaphor, and taking our teeth to Cass K’s fantastic Shadowrun/Blades in the Dark hybrid, Karma in the Dark!
The show will be airing on Twitch at 7pm tomorrow (Sunday 1st April), Australian Eastern Standard Time. The first session will be mostly world creation, but for the die-hards among you I look forward to seeing you there!