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It takes a village to create a good game world. Or in this case, a small town.



The Credits
by Brian Rogers

What follows is a list of everyone whom I can remember ever making an in-continuity character for the Variants universe, the characters' names, and the names of the groups and/or campaigns and/or time periods to which they belonged.
    I know that there are characters that people made at one time or another, and that they even played, that don't appear on the credits list below. Due to the wonders of retroactive continuity and half-finished games, such characters are still hovering in limbo. (Most notable of the Limbo Dwellers are Wendy Tavares' Barachiel, from the 2nd unfinished Host arc, and Kathy High's Charge from the 2nd unfinished Exordium File arc.) Whether there will be a harrowing of Limbo is unknown, but under no circumstances will Popandopalus the Inconceivable escape, so the world can sleep better at night. There may also be legitimate characters and/or players whom I have forgotten. My memory is not perfect, and my note-keeping is sporadic. If I have forgotten anyone and they want to be added, please e-mail Rebecca and have her tell me. I'll either explain why you're missing or, more likely, go "Doh!" and add you to the list.

The Cast of Thousands
Dan Abraham: Skywalker (Section Eight), Coyote (Ghost Dance), Savage (Exordium File)
Scott Auden: Juggler (Penumbra)
Matt Boyd: Mindcrime (Penumbra)
Greg Bynum: Hummingbird (Great Hunt), Grimouir (Harborview), Xorn (Detroit Warriors)
Mike Coolican: Crusader (Great Hunt), Black Dragon (Ground Zero), Concussion (Harborview), Cold Steel (Detroit Warriors)
Patrick Coolican: Jellybean (Ground Zero)
Jason Dressel: Warped Warrior (Section Eight), John Fletcher (Section Eight), Guardian (Section Eight), Powerhouse (Justice Defenders), Shadowstorm (Telerez), Survivor II (MEDUSA), Apollyon (The Host)
Lena Dressel: Arclight (Section Eight), Uriel (The Host)
Chris Dutton: Shriekback (Section Eight)
Jennifer Dutton: Gypsy (Section Eight)
Daniel Harvey: Privateer (a href="background/swordbearers.html">Swordbearers)
Kathy High: January Rain (The Host)
Rod Johnson: Energeon (Detroit Warriors)
Steve Jones: Tremor (Great Hunt), Wildcard (Ground Zero)
Kristen Keegan: Dart (Exordium File), Rashiel (The Host)
Tom Ladegard: Dr. Mist (1920's), Nightgaunt (Penumbra), Winter (Ghost Dance), Thunderbird (Exordium File), Justin Caine (Manhattan Project), Scott Silver (Revolution)
Chant MacLeod: Black Flag (Ground Zero), Captain Awesome (The Host)
Jesse Myers: Darkhawk (Great Hunt), Death (Ground Zero), Split Second (Ground Zero), Future Boy (Ground Zero), Orion the Omenbringer (Ground Zero), Shadowlad (Harborview), Daedalus (Detroit Warriors)
Vivian Norwood: Stingray (1920's), [Miss] America (WWII), Talon (Section Eight), Tigress (Justice Defenders), Alchemy (Justice Defenders), Arsenal (Telerez), Totem (solo), Desert Phoenix (MEDUSA), Ignis Wolfe (Exordium File)
Dylan O'Connor: Rapidfire (Ground Zero)
Grahm O'Connor: Impulse (Ground Zero)
(Name withheld by player request): Lucky Charm (Revolution)
Rebecca Stevenson: Needle (Revolution)
John Swindall: Captain Awesome (Great Hunt)
Chris Tavares: Technomancer (Penumbra / Exordium File), Zachriel (The Host)
David Twiddy: Phoenix Talon (Revolution), Albert Gabriel Smith (Revolution), Promethean (Revolution)
Amy Tyler: Inferno (Detroit Warriors)
Dave Wilson: Thunder (Ghost Dance)
Jack Zaientz: Dr. Zaientz (Penumbra), Raven (Ghost Dance), Rumble (Manhattan Project), E.N.O.C.H. (The Host)

The Justice Defenders
The Justice Defenders are, with the exceptions of the characters noted above for Jason and Vivian, characters that I came up with and developed that were then handed out to players on a couple of occasions. Regardless of who may have played them first, I'm still possessive of them, and they're 'my' characters. Still, given the synergy of role playing, the people who have played them have defined parts of them that I might not have. As such, a short listing to be fair to the players who have worn these skins:
Survivor was played by both Jason Dressel and Dan Abraham
Eclipse was played Lena Dressel
Flora was played by Vivian Norwood
T-Bird was played by Tom Ladegard

Games out of Continuity
There have been campaigns set in the Variants universe that I have not run. Only one of these falls within the regular continuity, so I'll deal with that first.
     Jason Dressel ran the Ghost Dance game for myself, Dan Abraham, Jack Zaientz, David Wilson and Tom Ladegard (the others have characters listed up above, I was playing Bear). Taking place all across the American West, the characters were (after some retroactive continuity) a group of Native American heroes under the tutelage of a shaman named Old Grizzly and fighting against the agents and machinations of White Raven, a European American sorcerer who housed a powerful renegade daemon after the Daemonwar. It lasted about 4 sessions, but I really liked the characters, so I brought them back as part of a side plot on the first Exordium File game, which served to conclude the initial plot. Still, Jay started it. This game was also the first appearance of the LAPD Variant division, whom I invite Jay to write an entry about for this page. Get crackin'!
     Next up, we have the potential future world that Mike Coolican created and ran concurrent with my Detroit Warriors game. Set in one possible future of the Variants universe, the year is 2038. Fifty years have seen social upheaval and stabilization in the US, the rebirth of communism in Europe and Asia, and another quiet period where Variants disappeared, reappearing again only a decade before the game started. I cannot emphasize to you how cool this campaign was! At some point I'll do a one- or two-page write up on it for the Backgrounds listing, but suffice it to say that it was cool, and might actually be the direction of the Variants Universe. It was the home of the League of Nations and its villainous leader Mind Lazer, who has mysteriously shown up in the 1980's in the Revolution game... curiousier and curiouser....
     In the immediate near future we have the game Tom Ladegard ran, borrowing several plot elements from the Section Eight game (with permission and good grace) and a hefty dose of Tom's own weirdness and paranoia. It takes place at Lancaster University in 1991, outside the scope of continuity. I love the characters from the game, but Tom ran it in Marvel Super-Heroes (his players preferred that to V&V. Heathens. At least it wasn't Champions), so they would require a lot of rewriting to get them to fit comfortably into the Variants universe.
     In a similar vein, Jason Dressel ran another game using the "heroes as college students" theme, set in Australia in 1991, and dead set bound to alter the world. Full of some neat ideas and cool characters, it died from internal frictions far too soon, and Jason still laments its loss. I still want a write up on Southern Cross, the Australian Variant team Jay developed as NPC's, who can easily work into the current continuity.
     The Tempest game, which I mentioned in the intro to the Section Eight campaign, has no direct connection to the Variants universe. The world doesn't exist, it isn't a parallel timeline or an alternate future. It is, however, a monthly comic book in the Variants Universe that sells really well from 1986-1990, when the creative team changes. Mature readers due to violence and sex, imagine John Byrne's Next Men (which hadn't started when I first ran the Tempest game) crossed with crossed with Bill Willingham's Elementals and you'll get the right idea.

Cross continuity and Debts
When I was running the Ground Zero game, Jesse Myers ran a few sessions with the same characters, some of which have been written into full continuity. Jesse is ultimately responsible for the Plovian invasion (I tell him "don't do anything too major," he has aliens invade. Sheeesh!) and the early activities of Death once he turned rogue and Jesse started playing Split Second.
     The mythological/historical world of Shandamir, standing at the mid point between Atlantis and Camelot in the Variants Universe, is the result of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons games that Vivian and I ran during college, either co-GMing or running alone with the other of us as a player in the game. She and I co-ran the Shandamir War game sophomore year, and that was the centerpiece of the legends most Americans and Europeans know in the modern Variants world, and from which the souls of heroes are reincarnating. There's no way that I can explain how important Vivian was to the development of this game world, and the legends that it has cast like shadows onto the Variants universe. Not can I extricate elements on which she or I worked alone, and I wouldn't want to try. Anything that rises from the Shandamir Mythology is as much hers as mine.
     Speaking of Shandamir, later on Jason helped as well, providing visuals and trying to work out a long term narrative (the Vanis Chronicles, which will get published just after we finish it and shortly before Hell freezes over) linking the stories together. As such, some of the credit goes to him.

The Society of Syrynx
The Society, as featured in the Section Eight Game, is based on real people, just as the PCs in the game are based on the players. The SOS was a club, a kind of anti-fraternity, on the UConn Campus during my time there, and may of its members were part of the Science Fiction Society, and therefore part of the same group of people who were the players in the Section Eight game. It only made sense to have them be Variants Studies students too, and have the groups clash.
      I got a casual approval from the SOS to use their real names and net names as their Variant Code names for the game, but that was over 5 years ago, and I hope none of them mind my posting them now. If anyone does, let Bec know and they'll change in minutes.
      If you're interested in the Society (which in the real world, is spelled Syrinx), then check out the web page of it's main modern torchbearer, the indefatigable Stephen Shipman (Lurch), the poor guy who had to be my roomate for 3 years of college. Check out his web page. From there you can hit the sites of at least one other Society member, Sarah Wishnevsky, which has some cool stuff on it, and pieces of her fiction, games she's run and lots of other stuff.

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Copyright © 1998 Brian Rogers