51.10 - The Motto

Leo was eleven when he lived with the Washingtons. Otto doesn’t have to think back - he remembers. This was one of the experiences Leo had before he got his big brother. He remembers Louisiana, New Orleans, the William Frantz Elementary School, famously the school where Ruby Bridges attended and thereby helped the cause of integration. During Hurricane Katrina, a local superhero had saved the building from serious damage, and Otto remembers her picture hanging next to Ruby’s in the hallway.

The Washingtons only had one big cookout while Leo - and Otto’s ghost - were living with them. But it was really something. New Orleans cookouts have rules, things you definitely do and don’t do, foods you do and don’t bring. Baked macaroni and cheese, queso dip and chips, locally baked cakes and chicken wings, and alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. This is the place Leo thinks of when he smells beer, and Otto does too. Mary’s too young to drink - legally - but Otto thinks in a few years, she might start, and knows when he smells it, he’ll think of the cookout.

Young Leo was handed beers and paper plates and cutlery, and told to do a lap around the field. The big face, looming in his vision, such a warm and loving and proud smile. “Now anyone whose hands are empty, you put som’a this stuff in ‘em, an’ you smile real big. If anyone asks whose kid you are, you point back at me an’ you say ‘he’s my dad’, okay?”

Leo remembers asking, innocently, what the purpose of the cookout was. “We’re celebrating,” his father explained. What are we celebrating, Leo wondered aloud. “We’re celebratin’ another day of gettin’ by,” his dad had explained. Leo didn’t understand at the time. He, and Otto, have since learned to appreciate just how precious just gettin’ by really is.

The cookout, the music, the everything, all comes back to Otto. His stereo is pumping. Not the usual 80’s hard rock-heavy metal mix he enjoys.

“You only live once, that’s the motto, YOLO, we 'bout it every day, every day, every day.”

Otto sings along. He doesn’t sing along with every single word, but that’s okay with him. When this track finishes, there’s one ready to follow it: Cats Laughing’s “For It All”, a song that came with Mary to Halcyon, and to Otto’s playlist.

“You want to be a hero, with the ax about to fall, you’d buy it for the love and for the glory, for it all.”

The lyrics mix together in Otto’s mind. “When the deal calls for a sacrifice, and you know you cannot die…” “Rest in peace Mac Dre, I’mma do it for the Bay, okay” “We’ll hit the throttle, we’ll hit the redline, we’ll find the edge, we’ll make it sweet.”

Leo created Otto. In another world, another Leo created Botto. But he didn’t make it, in spite of all Leo’s safeguards.

What did he miss out on? What didn’t he get to experience? He was just gettin’ by until he wasn’t, and if there was ever another cookout, the older men would pour one out in his honor.

We celebrate life because death is so close behind us.

At that moment, Otto had known he needed Mary to come to Halcyon City.

[To Be Continued]


#Soundtrack Drake - The Motto

#Soundtrack Cats Laughing - For It All

author: Bill G.
url: Community Forums: 51.10 - The Motto | Roll20: Online virtual tabletop

Looking back, Otto isn’t sure he can point to just when the switchover happened, from “random forum poster” to “someone I find interesting to read” to “someone I DM with” to “someone I’d talk about myself with”. He definitely knows the point when he sent her photographic proof of his identity, but when did he actually decide he wanted to? It was before then, but when? Online conversation feels like rain, sometimes. Every post or DM is a tiny droplet of sharing and each one feels like nothing at all, but it adds up amazingly fast.

It’s hard for him to look back at the history they share, and figure out how or when he learned all these things about this girl he never actually met until recently. She likes heavy metal and car racing. She sprang for Forza 7 to race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, her hometown track. But she likes other things, some of which Otto likes, some he doesn’t, and some he didn’t know he’d enjoy until he tried them.

Otto didn’t think he’d like John Fogerty at first. “Proud Mary” is a song about a down-on-his-luck worker who hitches a ride on a riverboat, and undergoes a revelation about his life. If it was from the 70’s and it wasn’t metal, Otto used to think it wasn’t worth listening to. But he gave this song another shot, to understand where this strange girl on the forums was coming from (she’d picked it as a name, after all). The song took him back to the music of New Orleans, to the soundtrack of the Washingtons and their lives. Now he’s really starting to dig it.

Urban fantasy, starting in 1987 with “War For the Oaks” and more recent titles like “Hidden Things” or “Gilded”, is something Mary has started talking about lately, and Otto gets the impression that it’s a really important thing and she’s just not sure if he’ll like it. He’s not sure yet, but he’s willing to get on board, especially with the Menagerie taking up residence in the Twilight Glade. According to Mary, the whole genre was an attempt to bring metahuman literature away from the more “scientific” reality of superpowers, and into a more mystical frame, where ordinary human beings could attain power through hard work and pluck and willpower, rather than being born with it.

There’s a thread of uncertainty and isolation and fierce independence that runs through things Mary has told him. She’ll rudely shut down people who talk shit about cars. She doesn’t have a lot of online gamer friends, and mostly joins open lobbies when gaming. She talks about people she knows, but guardedly. Otto gets the impression she keeps her real and online lives separated.

I wonder how many people know she’s here.

Just what did Leo give her? And how’s she going to take it?

Otto gets a text from Aria: “she’s ready”. He discovers that he’s been holding his breath.

He’s supposed to meet them on a side road, near the Gale estate. He pulls up in under a minute, but sees no sign of either Aria or Mary. The only thing that’s here is some kind of fancy super-car with tinted windows, a model he’s never seen before - Oh, shit, Leo built her the ultimate racing car! Bro! You are gonna make her so god-damn happy, this is the best gift!

The car transforms.

Otto isn’t sure of what he’s seeing at first. It’s his transformation mode - parts splitting apart, bracing against concrete to maintain balance, that shift that always weirds him out where six different pieces of frame suddenly become his spine, so that’s what that looks like, but wait, this isn’t his frame, this is distinctly Phoenix-like, boss, what–

He finds himself staring at Rule 63 Otto. No, it looks like–

Almost unconsciously, he transforms to match, and finds himself staring face to face with–

Her face. Mary’s face.

He sees the face move just like hers does. He hears Mary’s voice, coming from the mouth.

“Holy shit, dude.”

She smiles. She starts laughing. And so does he.

[To be continued]

OOC note: while “fembots” like Arcee (pictured here) have been around awhile, feminine giant robot has precedent too, starting with Minerva X from the classic “Mazinger Z” series and including weirder fare like 1989’s “Ariel” (NOT the Little Mermaid) and 2018’s “Darling in the Franxx” (if you need a giant robot series that’d pair well with Masks, this is it).

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6767533

Bill G. said:

Urban fantasy, starting in 1987 with “War For the Oaks” and more recent titles like “Hidden Things” or “Gilded”, is something Mary has started talking about lately, and Otto gets the impression that it’s a really important thing and she’s just not sure if he’ll like it.

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6767970

Due to this post’s PG-13-ish rating the phrase “we have to go deeper” will not appear in any capacity.

I’m pausing posting for a day, in case Doyce has anything he wants me to specifically do with Mary or her story before I go inventing a bunch of stuff on my own.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6768452

Nope! You picked up everything I’d hinted at already. :slight_smile:

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6768632

Mecha-Mary almost falls over at first. Otto impulsively steps forward and reaches out. “Get back,” she barks. It’s anger born of frustration. Otto understands. She needs to do this herself.

While she learns to balance, Otto wonders just what happened. Mary answers his unasked question, as she takes a kneeling position on the street and carefully levers herself up.

“Yer boy, Leo? His chick got me into some kinda skin-tight latex suit. So I guess I know what they’re into.” She chuckles, to mask her insecurity at this new experience. “Now I’m wondering what your thing is.”

“I guess we’ll find out,” Otto finds himself saying, and feels his face grow hot.

She laughs it off. “So I’m in here, moving around, with some kinda harness around me, like a back brace I guess. I can see and hear everything, and I can feel, this is really amazing.”

The boss knew I’d want to be on equal terms with her. And he respected my wish to stay myself. He didn’t force me into her world. He brought her into mine.

Otto wants to cry. He wants to laugh. Mary watches his face as she steadies herself and tests out her temporary body. “You makin’ fun of me?” she demands, squinting.

“Not you. Just… it’s really amazing.” Now that she’s on her feet, Otto steps close, and extends his hand. She takes it, and the two marvel at the reality of it for silent seconds.

“I gave up buying a motorcycle so I could fly out here,” Mary breathes. She pronounces it ‘motor-sickle’. “Totally worth it. I dunno how I’m gonna give this back, when the time comes.” She squeezes his hand in her own, a sensation so strong Otto hasn’t felt the like in years. As strong as him, he reflects. “So let’s make the most of the time we got!”

Maybe you won’t have to, Otto thinks. He’s terrified of bringing up the possibility of Leo gifting the suit to her forever, terrified the boss will say no, terrified there’ll be a fight or a painful disagreement or disappointment. Safer just not to think about it.

“Yeah, let’s go! Hey, can you fly too?”

Mary’s voice fills with wonder. “Can I what?”

Otto hasn’t read all the way through any of the fantasy titles Mary likes. But he read plot summaries online, to get the gist - no spoilers. There’s a girl. She has mundane problems, and when she’s thrust into supernatural adventure, those problems don’t simply disappear.

Now the girl is Mary, and the supernatural wonder is Leo’s high-tech hardware. Otto has lived as a machine for years now, so he’s used to it. But to her this is all new, he realizes. And underneath all the hardware, and behind Leo’s amazing creation, she’s still scared that this is all a dream, that it’s going to be snatched away from her, that it’s a trick, a joke.

The flight is no dream, at least.

Otto has a place in mind. It’s not anything either of them are into, normally, but somehow it feels right. Halfway there, as cold air whips past them and they have to shout to be heard, she calls out, “I left all my clothes back at the carriage house. This thing’s plugged into my plumbing but I still gotta sleep, and it might be nice to get out and stretch in a few hours. Can I trust you to be a gentleman if I gotta strip down?”

Boy, what a question. “No?” he ventures, with a laugh he hopes will excuse him if he’s wrong.

She smirks, and he’s left not knowing whether he was or not. Which was probably her goal.

Linville Gorge is sometimes called “the Grand Canyon of North Carolina”. It’s a popular hiking destination, with climbing, caves, hunting, and fishing. The old-growth forest and lack of human habitation, thanks to being difficult to get into or out of, contribute to the region’s wild atmosphere.

The two touch down in the middle of the river. “I didn’t have a plan here,” Otto confesses. “It’s just big an’ green, the pictures look great on the Internet, I thought, y’know, a big space for us to hang out would be cool.”

“It’s perfect,” Mary breathes. She hunkers down, experimentally reaches for a boulder in the river - a rock big enough to stand on, were she still human-scale - and finds that she can lift it easily. “Catch!” she shouts, and chucks it at him.

Otto tries his best, and nearly fumbles the receive. The two laugh, and he throws it back.

“Think we can skip one?” she asks, after a few minutes of play.

“Good question. Let’s find a flat one.”

The pair search, and locate a few rocks both flat enough to use as skipping stones, and big enough for their giant hands to manipulate. It turns out that stones of this size do not skip at all, but this too draws nothing but laughter.

They walk hand in hand through the river, staring up at the gorge in amazement, stepping in and out of shadows where the ridge line obscures the sun. “The water doesn’t feel cold at all,” Mary confesses. “I feel, y’know, kind of a rippling against my feet. Do you?”

“Yeah, it feels cold to me. Not like freezing, just, y’know, cooling.” Otto kicks with a foot, splashing water over Mary’s carbon-allotrope legs. She snorts and kicks some back at him. “The boss installed some pretty amazing sensors in me. Gives me close to full human sensation.”

“You were human, once, right?” she asks in a quiet voice. She still doesn’t know the whole story.

“I’m still human,” Otto says proudly, and thumps his chest. “I’m what the boss calls a remix. Y’know Lego pieces? Buy a Lego set, put it together one way. Buy the same Lego set, same pieces, same everything, put it together another way, that’s the boss 'n me. The mental resources of his mind, his brains, his memories, all those ingredients, but assembled differently. I’m my own person. We’re pretty similar, though.”

“So you…” Mary glances down at Otto’s shell, then away. “Like, if we… kissed, you’d feel that, right?”

“Kinda. I’m the boss’s first robot. I don’t have the whole endocrine system. My HPG axis - sorry, hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis - is simulated, kinda dummied out for the most part. GnRH production–”

“In English, metal-head,” she growls.

Otto hmms. “Well basically I ain’t equipped for certain aspects of a relationship,” he finally admits. I didn’t want to talk about this, I didn’t, because she’s going to lose interest and go back to Illinois and never talk to me again and find a more normal guy. Fuck.

While he’s worrying, her hands have slid around his waist and pivoted him in place. “Shut up,” she orders, and kisses him thoroughly on the mouth.

The remainder of the time at Linville is spent play-fighting, walking, and marveling at the sights. Mary loves to rough-house, it turns out, and doing it in an indestructible robot body with somebody equally as tough, is a joy. Otto worried for her safety at first, but some experimental action showed that she’s as well protected as Leo is in his Link Suit. She can throw, or be thrown, without any difficulty. There’s more kissing mixed between these activities, and Otto feels an electric jolt run through his body every time it happens.

It’s near sunset before the two are ready to head back. Otto isn’t tired in the least, but he’s not sure what else to do, and he doesn’t know how much Mary knows about Halcyon. Maybe they’ll think of something during the flight. He fears that she’ll get bored, fears he’s not doing enough, that she’s going to be too enamored of the suit and forget about him. He feels a surge of irrational jealousy toward Leo. It passes quickly, when Mary drifts closer in midair and slides an arm around his waist.

“What do you do all day, anyway?” she eventually asks.

“Me? Uh, I take classes online. I still gotta graduate high school, y’know. After that, uh… I’m still thinkin’ about it. Full-time superhero’s an option, though.”

She laughs. “That sounds badass. I’d love to do that with ya. But yeah, classes, graduation, all that shit for me too. I was thinking of heading to B-town for college, before I met you. Now….”

She grows silent, and the mood becomes melancholy.

Otto squeezes her with an arm. “You’re amazing, Mary. Whatever you plan to do, you’re gonna kick ass. And if there’s room in it for ol’ Otto, I’ll help out if I can.”

She smiles at him, and squeezes. “Thinking about the future sucks. Let’s enjoy right now.”

You read my mind.

[To be continued, the second half of their date]

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6769309

[So first, this is delightful. Also the first time I think we’ve gone beyond X.9 to X.10 in the cutscene numbering, and well worth it. Eagerly waiting the next installment.]

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6769456

“I need to get off,” Mary says when they land near the Gale estate.

Otto blinks a few times in astonishment, but she continues. “Get out? Dismount? What do you call it with this suit? This thing is amazing, but I need to be back in my own skin. Help me out.”

He laughs. “I dunno what Leo calls it. What you got is new, call it anything ya like.”

Mary triggers the transformation back into car mode. “This thing doesn’t really drive,” she explains. “A, uh, Alice? Shit. Aria. Aria said Leo didn’t have time to plug everything in. So ya gotta push me back into the garage. Shit, I hate it when I need a tow truck.”

Otto dutifully pushes the transformed suit into the driveway. At least the wheels turn. Once inside, Mary’s able to detach herself. She staggers out of the suit-turned-vehicle, dressed in tight black latex, and scowls as Otto whistles. A few minutes are sufficient for her to get changed in the bathroom, and she emerges dressed in what she wore off the plane.

“Had to take some of my piercings out,” she explains, though she doesn’t go into details. “That thing was tight, fuckin’ A.” Then she flashes a fierce grin. “Round two, big guy. Whatcha got?”

“You’re gonna love this,” Otto assures her, with complete confidence.

Carolina Speedworks is a garage in Salisbury, just off I-85. The Providence and Solid Rock Baptist Churches, Faith Temple Ministries, and Rowan County kingdom hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are right nearby. Speedworks customers form a sort of religion as well. Signs for the Mustang Cruise in May are already out, and people are preening and flexing in front of their cars.

Otto, incognito, pulls up in civilian-car mode with Mary at the wheel. The girl gets out, heedless of the stares and appreciative (or disrespectful) calls, and heads inside. She finds the person Otto told her to look for, a shop girl named Leslie Meriwether. The two talk, and talk, and keep talking as they walk around the car, and Otto listens to what he can. He can’t join in without breaking character, but he’s privately grateful that he’s not the only person Mary is talking to on this trip. The last thing he wants to do is isolate her, even if he wouldn’t mind monopolizing her.

The topic comes to racing, and it turns out there are plenty of guys on the field who’d like to try out their new tune against a challenger on the track nearby.

Leslie inspects Otto with a practiced eye. “This car seems kinda familiar,” she says at last. “You said you were outta town?” Mary did. “Is this… Your car? Or…?”

“He’s a friend,” Mary says quickly. She realizes what she just said. “It’s a friend’s. A friend of mine.”

Leslie shrugs and smiles. She doesn’t seem to care too much, but there’s protocol to observe when a muscular biker chick in a tattered touring shirt shows up with an expensive-looking supercar.

Some money changes hands, and Mary hops back in the front seat. Only then does it occur to her to ask. “Can I drive you? I mean, shit, uh, there’s two questions there. Does driving you even work? And do I have permission? I shoulda asked earlier, just kinda assumed.”

“You can use my body any way you want, baby,” Otto replies, praying to God he’s suave enough to use a line like that.

Mary kicks him in the gas pedal, and his engine roars.

Mary is familiar with Formula One, and has actually competed (as an amateur) in street racing and motocross. This time attack racing business is new to her, but she’s able to grasp the basics: just go as fast as you can, warm up beforehand, cooldown after. The track has twists and turns and long stretches, enough variety to challenge a racer’s ability rather than just their horsepower. The other racer takes their turn when you’re done. But when it’s your turn, it’s just you, your car, and the track.

Otto’s tires aren’t street legal, much less the rest of him, so he couldn’t enter a formal race. But this isn’t formal. Some guy’s paying $100 to find out if the $10,000 he just put into his ride was worth it. But what’s Mary’s motive? Pride, Otto figures. A desire to prove herself, and a price for failure if she’s not up to it. But he doesn’t ask, and she doesn’t explain.

He only needs to say one thing, he thinks. “I ain’t drivin’ for your ass, even if you’re losing.”

She rubs the steering wheel in response, and smiles gently. “I know you won’t.” Her eyes narrow, and her smile sharpens into a feral grin. “Now shut up for a bit.”

“Kris Singh brought his Pagani Huayra by here once, on his showing off tour,” explains Leslie through the rolled-down driver’s side window. “He made a minute thirteen. I give you a minute forty. Alright, good luck.” She slaps the roof of the car and steps back. Mary checks her seatbelt and rolls Otto up to the starting line. The lights flash from red to yellow to green, and–

The warm-up lap is the worst. She’s driving a new car, on a new track, and nothing goes right. She swears bitterly as she pulls to a stop.

“I’m a single-speed transmission,” Otto tells her gently, while she rubs her eyes. “I know you wanna go for the clutch, I know you’re feeling for the synchro gear. Just handcuff your shifting hand to the wheel and keep that brake foot nailed to the pedal. You’re used to a heavier car too. I’m really light. When I need to open up, I generate downforce with my rockets, but you can’t. So when you corner, steer into it, let me buck a bit. If we drift, I’m fast enough on a straightaway that you can make it up, and I got traction like a motherfucker. Alright, so there’s a dial for drive train impedance under your left knee, turn that up a couple notches.”

He’s not sure how she’ll respond to the advice, but he hopes it’s okay to give it now that she’s not actually driving. He wants it to come off like coaching, same as any member of a pit crew would give, not someone taking over for her, not someone getting in the way of doing what she loves–

He feels her turn the dial, unleashing his powerful electric drive train.

“Fuck you. I’m doing this,” growls Mary. But Otto knows she’s not speaking to him. It’s herself that she’s standing strong against - her own weakness and hesitation.

He thinks about the power setting for a moment. Was that too much? Maybe he should–

Red - yellow - green.

Mary puts the pedal down. And that’s when shit gets very real.

Otto comes to a stop. Mary unstraps herself with shaky hands, pushes the door open, staggers out of the car, and finds herself leaning against it to catch her breath. “Jesus god,” she pants. “Jesus god jesus god jesus god…”

“Fast enough for ya, tough girl?” grins Otto.

“Jesus GOD that was fast,” she gasps, a shark-like grin on her face.

Leslie approaches, a wad of cash in her hands. She hands it over with a smile. “A minute ten. Whatever you got under there, you don’t need my help. But you got these guys interested in buying a little more gear, so as far as I’m concerned, you deserve twice this much.”

The other driver cruises past, and gives Mary a cheerful smile and a thumbs-up. Leslie takes her leave as well. Mary peeks down her own shirt collar for a moment. “I cut myself on your seatbelt. And I’m probably bruised elsewhere. And I’m kinda dizzy too.” The adrenaline is wearing off, and her voice grows weary. “Drive me somewhere, Otto. I don’t care where, let’s just go somewhere.”

The car pulls up well after dark. Leo and Aria are surprised when Mary gets out of Otto and heads right to the carriage house. She seems like she’s been exercising lately, thinks Leo.

“We’re just gettin’ her suitcase,” Otto explains.

Leo hmms. “Everything going okay?”

“Yeah, boss. Everything’s really great.”

Leo’s not sure what else to say, but he turns with a furrowed brow to Aria. The robot girl, seeing Mary come out and reading something on her face or in her body language that Leo can’t catch, just rests a hand on his arm and nods in gentle reassurance. Good enough.

“Back in awhile, boss. Call if ya need anything.”

The road flashes by under Otto’s headlights.

“I don’t wanna leave. But I can’t stay. And even flying, you’re hours away, not minutes.” Mary sighs. “Fuck. Fuck it. Otto, is this gonna work?”

“I want it to,” he says at last. “I’m willing to work at it. If you want me too.”

“Everything’s so fucking amazing. It’s… I’m afraid, Otto. Is this real?”

“Yeah, it’s all real.”

Mary sighs. She sounds tired, and a little sad. “This is gonna be hard. It’s gonna be real fuckin’ rough. But……” She’s silent long enough that Otto begins to fear what she has to say.

“Yeah, fuck it. We’ll find a way. And if we don’t… fuck it, I’m not thinking about that.”

She opens her suitcase and pulls out a tightly-packed roll of shirts, then tosses it over the seat. “I wanna crawl in the back seat.” She tries to put some flirtatious energy into the words, but is too tired to manage it. Instead, all she’s got left is a fuzzy sweetness. “People would freak if I told 'em I spent my time in Halcyon sleeping in a car. I’m supposed to be responsible and careful while I’m out here.”

“I’ll keep to the speed limit,” Otto promises, grinning.

She smiles at him, and crawls across the front seat divide, flopping down in the back and curling up. “Otto… I…” She rests her head against the seat, using the shirt roll as a pillow and rubs her hand affectionately against the seat. Otto can feel the moment when she drifts off to sleep.

The car robot reflects on the long and silent drive to nowhere, with the sleeping girl in the back. I dunno what I got myself into here. But shit, if the boss can pull off a human-robot romance, then…

He checks the back seat again, and smiles to himself.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6773361

Thanks all for sticking with it. I’m interested in feedback on Mary’s portrayal here, and what people think will happen with the relationship given the distance - or will one of them move to be with the other? Like they said, it won’t be easy!

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6773362

Random conversational vignettes:

  • “Figures it’d take a superhero to want a girl with my face.” “I’m apparently so nice, I’ll date a blind girl too.” “I ain’t exactly pretty.” “A Prius is pretty. I’ll take a Ford Mustang any day.”
  • “So I’m basically sitting on your lap, when I’m in the car, right?” “Yep.” “So you’re kinda like a big speed-freak Santa Claus.”
  • “If I plug in my phone, whose music gets played? Mine or yours?” “Mine.” “Well, I got headphones.” “Screw you, I play good music.” “I know, dork. But you’d share, right?” “Yeah, plug in.”
  • “So now you’re listening to CCR and I’m listening to Fu Manchu. How the fuck did this happen?” “It’s called broadening one’s musical tastes.”
  • “Pull up at McDonald’s. The drive through. I wanna fuck with those guys. Just a sec, lemme get in the back seat…”

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6774442

Nice to see Leslie pop up. :slight_smile:

I like this a lot. I don’t necessarily know what’s going on in Mary’s head, which is probably good, since as a reader I’m more sympathetic to Otto and this is all such a mystery for him, too.

Looking forward to more.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6774532

I don’t have anything else for them at the moment - their date is over for the night, and I’d consider it a success. I like to think Otto followed Alycia’s advice about how to impress a badass chick, and that it paid off.

Right now we have a few young women interacting with some part of the superhero world:

  • Nono, who knows two of her friends are heroes (Ghost Girl, Leo in a lesser capacity), doesn’t know another is as well (Summer), and knows one villain personally (Emma/Hot Mess). I feel like her story is personal growth, aided by the confidence and friendship of those around her, and her recognizing her own good qualities.
  • Leslie, who (seemingly) isn’t aware of the strangeness going on around her personally, but clearly knows that Halcyon in general has supers, and knows that her roommate(s) are tangentially connected to that world. Her story isn’t really moving for the moment, so she’s more of a background character.
  • JC, who knows very well who and what Armiger is, and is doing her best to support him, wearing multiple hats (coach, best friend, potential love interest) in the process. I feel like her story is the tension she has with Armiger - not the usual “girlfriend of a hero” thing where “my enemies could hurt me through you” is something that ever gets said, but more the “what are we to each other” and “what are we willing to admit that doesn’t feel like a surrender” type of tension.
  • And now Mary, who’s apparently dating Otto, though it’s open whether that relationship can survive the distance for too long. It may push one or both of them into big life changes. I feel like her story is demonstrating that she has some kinds of strength well established already, and her being willing to admit to or cultivate other strengths (or recognize them as such). The “urban fantasy heroine” is my model for her, someone who’s independent and troubled and capable, in a strange world but willing and able to navigate it.

There’s other characters, like Daph or even Jordan, who interact with heroes in some capacity, but I’m not the one developing their stories. :slight_smile:

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6774591

I do love the richness of supporting characters and cast we’ve been able to develop here (you’ve probably taken the biggest weight on this, Bill, though Mike and I have managed to get a bit in there). It opens up a lot of things for us to do beyond “Hey, Troll is robbing the First Bank of Halcyon, let’s go get him!”

And don’t forget the rest of the Ponies, who are sketched out in varying detail.

My immediate thought looking at the list above is that there are seemingly fewer men that immediately pop to mind. After a few minutes, I realized that they are there (Armiger, for example, and Pietro), but they either blur into PCs (Jason, Otto) or are more directly associated with individual characters vs the team as a whole (our families). Need to ponder that.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6777036

*** Dave H. said:

My immediate thought looking at the list above is that there are seemingly fewer men that immediately pop to mind. After a few minutes, I realized that they are there (Armiger, for example, and Pietro), but they either blur into PCs (Jason, Otto) or are more directly associated with individual characters vs the team as a whole (our families). Need to ponder that.

I noticed that way back in this post, and that eventually inspired this analysis. We have characters like AJ, but they haven’t appeared onscreen yet. We’re also short on active mothers (we have active mothers for Harry and Adam, at least). There are some male Ponies, male employees at Blintzkrieg, and some peoples’ mothers could make an appearance, but I’m trying to introduce new characters when there’s an opportunity for story, and balancing that against the sizable NPC cast we have now.

It’s also important to me to introduce characters who can plug in multiple ways, and who aren’t just appendages to my PC (or NPC of choice). People like AJ and Leslie can tie into other PCs’ stories - Alycia/AJ conversations might focus on the darkly pragmatic realities of heroism, for example, but I’d really dig an Adam/AJ conversation too, where this once-eager Beacon type character sizes up the young Nova. That’s why I was super gratified to see Charlotte/Pietro happen at the dance, and for him to be played pretty much how I’d hoped - an awkward social mess with aspirations and at least some sense of when to shut his mouth and listen/learn. But it’s hard to bottle that lightning. Without that restraint, it’d be easy for me to throw in a few more boys and moms, but they’d probably languish in the corners of the narrative.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6777380

Bill G. said:

but I’d really dig an Adam/AJ conversation too, where this once-eager Beacon type character sizes up the young Nova.

Dammit Bill, you always seem to come up with these ideas for things I didn’t realize I wanted until you bring them up.

author: Mike
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6777521

Nudge Doyce, make it happen on forums, or even make a comic about it if you feel inclined. :slight_smile:

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6778013

Okay, I can’t believe how many times I looked at this before I got the name of the post. Yeesh.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6783921

*** Dave H. said:

Okay, I can’t believe how many times I looked at this before I got the name of the post. Yeesh.

The shipping nickname (“Mary-Otto”) coincided with the song title that gave us YOLO (You Only Live Once), which sounded like Otto’s attitude following the visit to the future. So of course I had to go with it.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6783943

No, it makes perfect sense. What doesn’t is how long it too me to parse it.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/6783973