15 Sept 2016

NaNo Backgrounder - Tempest T. Pot Commentary 2

Tempest lured her prey into her web, but Mason had a few surprises in store.  No plan ever survives contact with reality, and Murphy's Law reigns supreme.

I skipped over the flirting and the travel from the bar; the scenes weren't necessary for my purposes.  Tempest wouldn't be herself but her target's preferred pick.  Instead, I jumped to the new location.  The audience can imagine what happened in the cab.  Might be better than anything I can come up with, which isn't a bad thing.  Sometimes, implying is better than showing.

Again, I needed the names of bars.  I did think about using locations from Seattle 2072, but the sprawl has room for much much more than what's in the book, allowing me to create the locations I needed.  Part 1's Two Pines received its name for being a restaurant/bar in the Pacific Northwest trying to be a neighbourhood establishment, a place the locals go to for a night out.  Liber Pater, however, got its name after I did a quick search for the Roman equivalent of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, indicating that the bar is more hedonistic.  Since this is where Mason goes when he wants to indulge his BTL habit, the name worked for my purposes.

The Triads are part of Chinese organized crime with connections to the illegal simsense chip trade.  Tempest's concerns about being in a Triad-controlled bar comes from her own background and contacts, which are hinted at with the final scene.  Part of the her background that didn't get revealed is that she worked in a Yakuza bunraku, or "puppet", brothel.  Tempest maintains ties with the Yakuza.  Those of you remembering what sort of surgery Tempest had, this is the reason why.  This work is also why Tempest has the chip habit.

Something that I didn't work at but realized I should have emphasized a bit more is the difference between Tempest's addiction and Mason's.  Mason thinks he is a casual user, though he has a mild problem.  It's not affecting him yet, but he's heading down the dark path of addiction.  Tempest, though, is climbing out of that hole.  She's well aware of her addiction and is trying to kick the habit.  When Mason ran his BTL raw, Tempest did what she could to keep up appearances while still negating the worst effects.

The BTL, Rage Red until I come up with a better name, wasn't planned out when I started.  The usual moodchips focus on highs like happiness with a few going the depression route.  Rage Red goes for anger.  This BTL may become a recurring plot device, though, unplanned for.  The Shadowrun setting includes such things as combat drugs that boost the natural abilties of their users so they can keep up with the cybernetically and the magically enhanced.  Typical users are street cops, gang members, low level corporate security, and other redshirts that would cross paths with shadowrunners.  Drugs, though, have drawbacks that affect the users's health.  BTL chips are a psychological addiction with no direct physical drawbacks.  A combat BTL that amps up aggression may have a few bugs, but that's what Mason's there for, to be a guinea pig.

While the effect of the chip is obvious on Mason, I wanted it to be a little mopre subtle with Tempest.  She's not aware of the effect right away, even though she's already getting angry.  Running the BTL through cold simulation means she's not getting the full effect; she can still choose how to react, even if there's snark involved.

In the van, Tempest gets to show off for the reader some of her implants.  She lied to Mason about not having a chipjack, but no one should be surprised there.  Tempest has a skilljack with skillwires, letting her use specialized programs to fill in skill gaps she may have.  The software, called skillsofts, are a replacement for the education and experience; they don't add on.  But, for teams that need niches filled, skillsofts are a stopgap.  For added fun, Tempest's skillwires are second-hand cyberware; cybernetics shouldn't buzz if installed properly.

The last scene has Tempest alone again.  Her call to Takamura is less calling a friend and more repaying an old debt.  Takamura is Yakuza; Tempest is giving him a heads-up on the new BTL chip the Triads have on the market.  This ties into other elements, including the plastic surgery I mentioned last time and her work in the /bunraku/ brothel.  Tempest feels that she owes the Yakuza and, specifically, Takamura for what they did for her, ignoring for the moment that they're also responsible for her addiction.  Thanks to how the Yakuza operates, Tempest may always have a debt to them, beyond buying her BTLs from them.  This connection and her addiction will provide conflict in the potential NaNo project.

Tomorrow, more background work
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Electra-Woman and Dynagirl.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, Star Trek: The Animated Series.


  1. A couple vague curiosities... if Tempest is getting over an addiction, wouldn't she have known that the chips are colour coded, and hence that red means "angry"? Or are chips not always coded that way? Also, in the actual story, Blaze came through the window. The guy threw Tempest towards Blaze, she flew past... and somehow into the couch, instead of, well, out the window. Erm.

    Probably a good call on skipping certain non-integral scenes. The addiction angle was played well (I'm not sure if the team was a little too obsessed over it, maybe they've had bad experiences), and it was good that you pointed out in-story how Tempe was affected by the anger; being a new character, we don't necessarily know that she's not always like that when she spikes in adrenaline.

    Funny enough, "Two Pines" for me conjured up an image of the Twin Pines Mall from 'Back to the Future' - but well done on the research. And I can't see "Mr. Crab" without thinking Spongebob.

  2. The chips might not be colour coded. They could be unlabelled; the game doesn't go into that level of detail. I was figuring that if I were to sell illegal software on DVD or USB stick, I wouldn't label them so that no one realizes what's on them. Blaze should have moved more, yes, though the guy wasn't that strong to throw Tempest out the window. :)

    The flirting scene works best unseen; I'm not that good at it in reality-land. ^_^;; It's the game's Notoriety mechanic coming up; Tempest is known for being an addict, so they're assuming that she'll flake out. And, for a story where I'm working out a character, I managed to have her go out-of-character. >.<;;

    Completely forgot about that, though I almost went with Twin Pines. I also forgot about Spongebob, but I never really watched the show when it was on. Could be that Mr. Crab got the name because of the cartoon.