This is a repost from City of Steam Content Dev Journals
Time to do some detective work. We got a case from a new client, the alluring tavern waitress in The Refuge of Nexus, who asked us to help collect a debt from three deadbeats: anamed Soth, a goblin called Yunk, and some orc that goes by the name of Ghan.
She can’t recall which of them owes her the money, exactly. This is all she said about them: “Just to be forewarned, they’re a tricky lot. The goblin could charm the shine off a shilling, given half a chance. Theacts like he’s rich, but I’ve never actually seen him buy anything. Start with the orc. He pretends to be tough, but he’s a big softy. Also, he has a job.”
Let’s get started with a video of the trio.
Design Dev Journal 2012-02-14;
News, Good excuses and finally updates;
Design Dev Journal 2012-02-24)
Hmm… interesting. Seems like the orc end up buying a lot of their food.
*Camera zooms in on the orc.
File: Ghan Borog
Orc, Male; 46 years old
*For orc racial traits, read this.
Ghan’s made of common stock. There really isn’t an orcish upper class, as such – inheritance isn’t really a thing for them. Whatever you have, you earn.
Ghan was born in the Heartlands, but his parents were borderlanders who never really adjusted to life in the city. Dad’s still alive, mom isn’t. Dad requires regular visits and checkups. Since Ghan is fairly old for an orc, Dad is close to venerable. Imagine if your great grandfather were built like the Incredible Hulk, and you can see why Ghan needs to check in on him from time to time.
Like the waitress said, Ghan “pretends to be tough, but he’s a big softy”. Even back in the days when he was still a student, though he always talked a big game, and he could fight, he had never been a real warrior. Life became tough for him when he crossed a guy named Tojar Kol (who led an entire clan into battle before he turned 13) at school once. He spent the rest of his term bowing and scraping to Kol and his retinue and was even forced to apologize more than once to those that he had wronged.
He was so hurt that when he finally graduated, he indulged his wounded ego by taking on dangerous work. He joined up with Dwarven miners, hunted rustwolves for railhauler companies, did a stint as a blightwood logger, and even did some low-grade muscle work for this or that gang. In any event, he worked his butt off and earned some decent scars.
Then he met Dhura, one of the few from Kol’s gang who ever took the time to talk to him. Dhura told Ghan that after graduation she had spent a year fighting alongside Kol. But now Kol had left the Heartlands and returned to raiding in the borderlands, leaving her behind for “being too soft” (which is clear enough considering her tiny kindness towards Ghan). Ghan and Dhura started working together, fell in love, started a family, and had a daughter.
But it didn’t work out. About ten years later, Kol came back from the borderlands and professed his undying love for Dhura and invited her to join his life of glorious battle in the borderlands. In the end, Dhura left Ghan and their daughter and eloped with Kol. Ghan fell into a deep depression, and again tried to lose himself in ever more dangerous jobs. Having entrusted his daughter to the care of his parents, he took to underground arena fighting. Mass ratling melees, orog fights…eventually, even death matches against other. All of Ghan’s opponents fell in short order –all but one, a slavering horror dredged up from Mechanism-knows-where. None of his usual techniques worked; it couldn’t be intimidated or distracted, it didn’t have kickable kneecaps, and it seemed to actually like the taste of oil-treated gauntlets. The last thing Ghan saw before he passed out was the burning green gaze of the Brood creature that ought to have killed him. When he awoke, he saw his father, fists clearly bruised from beating down the Brood-thing with his bare hands, looking at him in abject disapproval. “You have a family, Ghanru Borog. And I’m not talking about that ex-wife of yours. Never liked her. At all. Anyway! You have a daughter out there who wants nothing to do with you and a father who’s seriously considering the idea. Now get out there and make something of yourself and maybe we’ll both reconsider.”
It took Ghan quite some time to finally get over his depression along with his numerous failures. He was no longer consumed by a need to constantly prove himself. He knew he was never going to be a “true warrior”, whatever that means, and that’s okay. He probably wouldn’t see Dhura ever again, or punch Kol in the face, and that was something approaching okay. Whatever he did, getting himself killed wasn’t going to improve his lot, nor that of his father and (now grown) daughter. He still gets into fights, sure, but that’s just being an orc.
He picked up a normal job. It’s a tad exhausting and unsatisfying, yet he has worked at this job for several years. He senses that he was meant to do something bigger and that sense is growing day by day. He wants to continue to shake off the guilt he’s built up through life, to not be a deadbeat, and (in his heart of hearts) to make his mark on the world. How he’d make his mark on the world if he had a chance isn’t clear. He’s got dreams, but he’s a little reluctant to discuss them.
So, was it he who ran up the tab in the tavern?
An unlikely candidate, then.
So, moving on!
Goblin, Female; 22 years old
*For goblin racial traits, read this.
Yunk was born in Delton, a nearby city known for its massive industrial scraphills, filled with kilometers of wreckage from every imaginable machine. Her family worked as foragers and tinkers, assembling new machines and fixing old ones for a living. They moved to Nexus some 3 years ago, and have been struggling to gain a foothold here, which is why they all live in the same room in their apartment.
Yes, it’s a horrible squeeze to get in there, but luckily there is a backdoor. The otherin her family rarely come out into the living room—truth be told, they’re kind of suspicious and frightened by Soth and Ghan, so don’t want to interact. Actually, Ghan and Soth act out a little bit, to frighten the back into the room, but it doesn’t work on Yunk at all.
Yunk is the runt of the litter, one of 5 identical quintuplets, the last one out. And because of this, her parents and the rest of her kin tended to leave her to her own devices… a little too much. So, she’s very independent and a little eccentric, even for a goblin. Because she wasn’t watched as a child, she hasn’t developed the knack to engage with others on a social or emotional level. And when it comes to her sister’s families, she still feels extraneous, and doesn’t really see a reason why she should participate in the rearing process.
Yunk won’t admit it, but she’s downright jealous of all the attention her 4 sisters got. In fact, they are probably her greatest rivals. It’s not even about getting the attention of her parents—it was more about the toys and the opportunities. She wants to be better than them and not at all sure how to do that.
Her position in the family had a profound effect on her personality. As she is the youngest of the 5, she is very superstitious of the number 4. In fact, she hates it. Think of a cake; now think of how it gets cut. First it’s halved, then it’s quartered – that’s only four pieces so she’d miss out and her sisters would all get a piece. But if it’s cut into eighths, she’d still only get one piece and her eldest twin sisters would get two pieces. It just never quite works out.
Just like many other Goblins, Yunk has too much curiosity that got her into trouble now and then. She was once arrested for breaking and entering a high security museum. It so happened that her curiosity got the better of her, and she wriggled her way through air ducts to get inside to look at a particular device that fascinated her. She was eventually tracked down by a security guardtoiler and held in the officer’s quarters until her parents came to pick her up the next day. Although they didn’t press charges, Yunk remembered it well. Now she has a particular aversion to steamtoilers, and all steamworks. From then on, she only really liked to meddle with clockworks.
Another thing that is very clear in Yunk’s memory is the night they were evicted from their home in Delton. Months of unpaid rent accrued till it finally got to the stage that they were forcefully moved by the city guard. After this time, the family was bounced around from place to place, living with relatives or cheap accommodation. While it really was her parents fault, the way she remembers and the actions of several individual guardsmen made her very anti-establishment for many years thereafter.
Yunk is light, wiry, and a little bit grubby. Like a tomboy who plays in the mud too often. Scuffed knees, dirt under the fingernails, bruises, etc. While she appears to be quite cute, when one gets her back up against something, it’s a fortress of stubbornness to break. She’s very defensive about her own possessions and her way of doing things. Do NOT try to tell her how to put that puzzle piece in its right place – the help of others is not welcome unless she asks first. She’ll get frustrated and annoyed if she can’t solve a puzzle, but she might just get outright mad if someone else tells her the answer.
Yunk loves eating a lot. She has a high metabolism because even in her idle state she is fairly animated. This, coupled with the goblin propensity to eat everything and ingest poisons without falling ill makes her a black hole for food and sustenance. She raids the fridge constantly, eating everything and everything she can get her hands on.
Yunk loves trophies that remind her of her successes. She has whole drawer-fulls of them, and each one has a particular memory and story behind it. It’s like her diary, a trove of odds and ends that describe her life from the age of 5. While hoarding is every goblin’s pastime, she only collects objects that have a story to tell.
When it comes to her lifetime goals, Yunk is pretty much lost. She knows she would really like to one-up her sisters and get really cool things that they don’t have. But that’s not what she would like to put as a lifetime goal. And she knows she’s supposed to make some sort of honest living at some point, but she’s still very young and not very wise. Because of this lost-ness inside, she also wants to travel, outside the cities, to ruins, places far away. It’s another childish fantasy trope, but that’s really her. It’s one of the reasons she’s so fond of maps.
So is she the one who owes the tab?
(Must say her description of herself really sounds just like her.)
So, probably no. Not her.
File: Arylethyn Soth
Draug, Male; 82 years old (you may think he's old. But he's not...for a draug)
*For draug racial traits, read this.
Arylethyn Soth, like most elves, was born into an incredibly wealthy household with family estates, businesses and all the government connections that hold together their hierarchal mercantile empires. Elven houses are typically like late Victorian or Edwardian noble houses, so they are very stooped in tradition and a little out of date, except in terms of art and fashion. They are upper-class land owners, never get their fingers dirty and generally look down upon the other races as being… lesser.
Like all draug children, Arylethyn was raised inside the walls of the draug mansion until the age of 30. As you can imagine, because draug age so slowly, raising a child in their culture is a terrible burden upon everyone. And because of the sheer cost of raising Arylethyn, everyone expected him to live up to their adult expectations. These expectations are extremely daunting.
Because of their great wealth, the Soth household never had to study a trade or a useful profession. Instead they learned things that were considered to be either aesthetically pleasing or traditional. So, Soth studied arcane magic, and was exceptionally good at it. In fact, he outperformed so many people in his class that he achieved great renown for his talents within his school. But then he just grew bored of school and began to slack off. All that trying hard and studying… he just couldn’t be bothered. He tried to cheat on the final exam, was caught doing it and subsequently was kicked out of the Collegium of Magic. The shame it brought to his family caused a permanent rift between him and his parents. Does he still keep the transcript of his exam results, or the expulsion letter from the college? You never know.
After college he worked as a prosecutor at the Nexan Lexorium for some years – when public executions were still popular, but then during a government reform the Lexorium was closed and he lost his job. So he took to business investment. He was loaned a lot of money from other people to invest in importing goods from Yusuna, a developing nation outside the Heartlands. Unfortunately, he was too naive, and lost everything to the greed of others over the course of a year. While it’s technically illegal and he could have the perpetrators arrested, he still hasn’t really told the investors what happened and fears retribution from them much more than he wants revenge.
After losing all his money, he went into hiding, fearing the reactions of his parents and the shame it might bring his family. He feels that he is a disappointment to all those who raised him, so would rather be gone or unseen, than confront and apologize. In truth, many draug have been banished from their households for less, so returning to the house might end tragically. There is nothing lower than a houseless draug in their society, so he can’t face the reality that he might be cast out.
For most of his life, Soth was unaware of the value of money. He assumed that it was something which everyone had, and could be used frivolously in whichever way amused him at the time. Nowadays, that is certainly not the case. And while he has so little money to spare, he is proud enough to forgo food and comfort in order to appear wealthy, dignified and respectable. That means there are no pennies to spare on others.
Soth can often be an introverted wangst (whiny and angst). He takes the pressure of draug society and his previous failures upon himself in a very unhealthy way. So he’s very defensive and sensitive about issues of his own, blindsighting him from the issues that others might have. Hence, he comes across as insensitive and selfish toward others.
What Soth really wants and what he thinks he wants are two entirely different things. When he is asked, he just says that he wants to maximize the return on his investments, have successful heirs, be respected for his wealth and intelligence, and basically live up to the expectations of his parents. But he’s never really thought about what he really wants. He still lives in the shadow of his upbringing, and hasn’t been able to break free from that.
In our opinion, what Soth really wants is to be free from the expectations and pressure of his family, and to live his own life in the way that he wants. However that turns out, however, well… we don’t entirely know yet.
So, is Soth responsible for the debt?
(“A draug is nothing without his honesty!”? No, Soth. We don’t trust your honesty. But we may have some faith in your pride.)
So, none of them are guilty of skipping the tab? Interesting. Let’s get back to the waitress.
It is indeed suspicious! Could someone be cooking the books!? What do you think? Share your thoughts on the forum!
- City of Steam Dev Team