[Island] Always the Hocus

edited May 2011 in Out-Of-Game
Name: Always
Look: Young man, tattered vestments. Determined face, mesmerizing eyes. Lanky body.
Age: Seventeenish


A young man, maybe seventeen, in threadbare clothes worn nearly-through by salt, sand and sea.

Cool +1, Hard-1, Hot+1, *Sharp+1, *Weird+2.

Frenzy: When you speak the truth to a mob, roll +weird...
Charismatic: When you manipulate someone, roll +weird instead of +hot.
Fortunes: At the beginning of the session, roll +fortune...

2 barter worth of oddments, 2 barter worth of Followers-produced goods.

( ) get +1cool (max +2)
( ) get +1hard (max +2)
(X) get +1sharp (max +2)
( ) get a new hocus move
( ) get a new hocus move
(X) choose a new option for your followers
( ) choose a new option for your followers
( ) get a holding (detail) and wealth
( ) get a move from another playbook
( ) get a move from another playbook


  • edited July 2011
    Followers: The Lost

    Fortune +2. Surplus: +2 barter, +augury. Wants: hunger, disease, stupor.

    The Lost are dedicated to me. (+1 barter, desertion = hunger)
    The Lost are involved in successful commerce. (+1 fortune)
    The Lost disdain fashion, luxury and convention. (+disease)
    The Lost are often overwhelmed by the ocean breeze. (+stupor.)


    The Lost are those who, for whatever reason, have gone out to sea and returned obliterated; their identities and memories eroded, fractured, or simply stripped away by the ocean breeze. Some were political exiles, whose enemies offered them mercy; others were madmen who sought release from the prison of their minds; and of course, some were accidents, stranded at sea or pulled into a storm. Most, however, were simply desperate, hungry men and women willing to risk their minds for the bounty of the sea. Fish to feed their family, or salvage to build a new home. And if they are never really themselves again, what of it? At least they have provided, at least they found something to give back to the world that didn't need to be pulled, bloody and shouting, out of another man's arms.

    And though the Lost are few, many remember their names, and most respect their sacrifice. They live on the beaches, with those few who follow them. Some bring with a family member, or a friend, who take care of their basic needs in exchange for what they bring back on their daily trips out to sea. They wake up amnesiac, and are reminded of their duties; given instructions, shown the nets their hands still remember how to use. A small community surrounds them, profiting from their sacrifice.

    This has been going on for some time, but Always has not been long among the Lost. He came a year ago, maybe two; like many others, he arrived to take care of a newly Lost. His mother, Nbeke, a murderer and leader of men. A hardholder who made too many enemies, she still had friends enough to avoid a simple death -- instead, she was Seabound, strapped to a raft and left to drift out with the tides. By the time she struggled free -- or by the time some loyal follower swam out to her, a knife in her teeth -- and returned to shore, her memories were already riddled through with holes. She remembered enough not to go up past the beaches, and soon Always came down to her, and found a recently-vacated hut. And so they continued, and now there is nothing left of her except her son, her body, and her name.


    I'm not particularly happy about the second weakness for my followers: I initially had 'your followers rely entirely on you for their lives and needs', but that's no more an accurate description than 'Your followers disdain fashion, luxury and convention.' Both +desperation and +disease seem like perfectly fine wants, but unlike +stupor (where I just replaced drugs with the effect of the ocean) I am struggling to find a straightforward rewrite of the descriptive text.
  • edited May 2011
    About the operations of the cult:

    Most of Always' followers have moved closer, to live near him -- but they are all part of a larger community of the Lost that live along the same part of the beach, the largest such beach-dwelling community on the Island. Some live further off, but come by frequently anyways to sell their Vessels' catch at the marketplace. Always is completely non-prosletyzing, and most of the time he doesn't really seem to operate as though he understood that he has become a cult leader. Of course, this just makes him all the more convincing to those who come to hear him. Mostly he just talks about what it's like to be in this situation, and tries to make sense of it; and the more sense he makes of it the more people seem to want to listen to him.

    Some of his followers are more zealous, however, and word has certainly spread along the beaches: that a young man has come who truly understands the Lost, and the sufferings of those who are not yet Lost; that the Lost themselves are not to be pitied, but envied; that living on the beaches is not a punishment, but a blessing; that if you listen to him and understand his words you will no longer have to worry.

    I think that so far, Always has been lucky with the cult -- the +stupor is something I feel is endemic to most Lost communities, and there have only been hints of the +disease, which is a consequence of his followers taking the 'ascetic/forgetfulness' part of his teachings a little too far. When he has noticed this tendency -- Handlers who aspire to be Lost themselves, shirking cleanliness and other responsibilities -- he has reacted with extreme (though mostly well-concealed) alarm. After all, he does seem to have talked himself into a corner where everyone should want to be Lost as soon as possible -- and if people actually start taking that fanatically seriously, it is not going to be pretty.
  • Reserved for more moves? Or something? Everybody else is doing it, I dunno man.
  • edited May 2011
    I did want to mention that the 'psychic/+weird people on the beach with opinions about what to do about the maelstrom' scene is looking really crowded (4 characters, if you include Gabriel.) I am really hoping we can avoid a kind of narrative/colour arms race and try and pace revelations/input to the speed of our actual play. I know I have lots of ideas, and both myself and Rhyme will (it appears) be spending our first advances to get followers with +augury -- which seems like it could have a lot of good potential for an in-game arms race.

    But I know that looking at the other characters and the other character threads I have this really strong impulse to just start laying down definitions and ideas in an attempt to stake out narrative territory, etc., based on this fear of inevitable toe-stepping. And I am certainly hopinh to squash this impulse, and see what happens in play (and I've already written several pages of stuff about the Lost in any case.) Possibly I am the only person with this impulse, in which case I simply encourage everyone to call me on this if I start overreaching in that regard.
  • Please tag this thread so it's tied to the other threads for this game.
  • Copy and pasted some stuff on the cult from the Hx thread. Does anyone have any outstanding questions on how the cult operates, what they believe, etc? (That are not better addressed once play begins, I mean.)
  • A story about Turtle Days, from the main prep thread:

    The worst thing I ever saw. It was just last year. The turtles are spawning and everyone is out on the beach -- a bunch of Georgies have come down, and set up right next to me and the others. I can tell they know who I am, or I guess better put they know who my mom is -- they keep looking over at Nbeke, gawking practically, and I hear some snickering. She doesn't notice, of course -- she's watching the beach, standing with the other Lost, waiting for the turtles to come down the beaches.

    Then the little turtles start running, same as every day, and all the Lost and the Georgies and everyone start chasing them down the beach. The Georgies are kind of goofing off, but for us this is a bit more serious. Some of the Lost have these little clubs, just stick and rock things they use to crack open the turtle shells, or knock the babies out before they can get away. Nbeke has one of these clubs.

    I'm hanging back, watching -- sometimes you have to chase the turtles right into the surf, and no way am I risking that -- so I'm pretty far away when it happens. Some Georgie, some kid maybe my age or a bit older, I guess he's had a bit much to drink, or he's just clumsy, or maybe he's trying to prove a point, but anyways he trips and runs right into Nbeke; she had her eye on a turtle, and both of them fall over. The Georgie thinks it's funny, and I think maybe he said something, but I couldn't make it out -- his friends seem to think it's pretty funny too. I'm barely halfway there when Nbeke takes the first swing, and puts the head of her turtle-club straight through the side of this kid's face -- but I hear it like I'm right next to them, like the whole beach just shut up at once, even the ocean. This horrible crunching noise. And after one swing she doesn't stop, even though (god I hope) he's already dead -- there's another, and another before he even hits the ground, and by then the rock on the club has come loose and she's just going at him with the handle, and I swear I'm the only other thing moving on the beach besides her and the body, the sack of bones she is breaking into pieces.

    By the time I get there it's over, she's dropped the stick and she's already looking up the beach at another turtle. Everybody else is looking at her. She looks the same as she always does -- blank, calm. Just a little bit of sweat on her forehead. Standing over this ex-Georgie, this now ex-person. I can smell the blood, and the rest of him too, smell it like I'm swimming in it -- and I try not to look. All his friends are standing there, frozen. There's a lot of them. I try to say something, something like 'it wasn't her fault' or 'she didn't mean it' but even when I'm saying it I can tell it doesn't matter -- they're scared, they're not going to do anything. And all they do in the end is back off, and mutter threats, and one of them looks like she's going to cry but doesn't. And when they disappear back up to the road all that's going through my head is 'he deserved it' -- 'he deserved it' over and over until I'm throwing up in the bushes, and I can hear the crack of turtle shells all along the beach.
  • Am I right in reading that The Lost are made up only of vessels and not their caretakers?
  • edited May 2011
    If you mean Always' followers, then no. 'The Lost' refers to both Handlers/caretakers and Vessels/afflicted. His followers are fairly evenly split between both, though of course the caretaker component tends to be more vocal/proactive.
  • OK, cool. Slight edit in your scene.
  • edited May 2011
    Clothing-wise, I imagine Always in a threadbare linen shirt (sun-bleached but still barely, lightly green) and a pair of pants that were made for a shorter person, and so look something like capris. If it's cold he has maybe a poncho made out of an old blanket or something. One of his Followers gave him a pretty nice belt, with a buckle and everything. He goes barefoot unless he has to cross the lava fields or something, then he has some not-so-deluxe rubber sandals.
  • When Always Opens His Brain to the psychic maelstrom, it's like drowning.

    And I mean, physically, it feels like drowning. Like he is in the ocean, and he can't swim, and he starts to go under, and the water comes in his nose and his mouth and it stings his eyes and he is sinking and he is sure that is going to die but he doesn't. But I also mean, mentally, it feels like drowning -- except what is pouring in through his mouth and ears and dragging him under isn't water -- it's memories. Other people's memories, bits and pieces of them. They push their way into his brain and they push out other things and while it's happening they feel like they're his.

    And if he's lucky and he doesn't panic and he lets it happen, the memories are relevant and beautiful and even generous, in a way. And if he's lucky and he doesn't panic then they go away in the end and what they displaced comes back to him. And if he's not lucky, if he's too afraid, if he thrashes -- then it's just like drowning again except for no good reason.
  • Ported over from the Hx thread, a summary/sketch on how Always sees/saw the other PCs at the beginning of the game:

    Pity - Always has no idea what to make of Pity, she is bizarrely unreadable and that probably freaks him out all by itself. The fact that she seems to feel she can restore people's memories turns the 'freak out' up to 11, since that is basically the $100 million Faustian question that his mother's condition combined with his professed cultish beliefs is driving him towards. Some of his followers -- those who believe him more than he believes himself -- might be socially hostile towards Pity because of her desire to 'corrupt' the pure vessels with memories/ Always himself is ambivalently welcoming -- curious, skeptical and worried, but outwardly as friendly as he is to everyone who ends up on the beach. He was there that night when Pity 'went bad', though, and that does not sit well with him at all.

    Merry - Merry reminds Always of his former life, when he lived with the gangs and his mother was all in one piece. She also reminds him of his current life; he knows what happened to her family, and the parallels with his own situation weigh heavily on his mind whenever she appears on the beach. Unlike the others, Always knows exactly how much of Merry is 'still there' and how much is lost, but he doesn't begrudge her the fact that she acts further gone than she is -- that's one of the big emotional ideas behind his cult, after all, that somehow things would just be easier if we weren't so thoroughly ourselves all the time. Since moving to the beach, when they do interact he speaks to her as though she is mostly there, instead of some sort of mystical/lost good luck charm; when he was part of the gangs he probably played along more.

    Rhyme - There's still a lot to work out here, and I don't think the two have made much progress on that prior to play. Always is new to the beach, and Rhyme was born there; being around Rhyme makes him feel like an outsider. But while he's had little trouble breaking through that barrier with most of the Lost, there's definitely something about Rhyme that makes Always want to play his cards close to his chest whenever they interact. Maybe he doesn't want to give away the fact that he lacks what Rhyme so clearly has -- real ideas about the future, and hope for something more than consolation. At the same time, Always isn't so sure that's real either: after all, regular people listen to Always, and he offers them comfort; the only people who seem to really believe Rhyme are his crazy psychic family.

    Brick - To be honest I don't really know enough about Brick's personality to figure this out completely. But there's a shared history there, through Nbeke and the gangs. So while Always clearly has a pretty good read on Brick, I think he's predisposed to resent him. After all, Brick was one of the people who let his mother get captured in the war. It's in his interactions with Brick -- and really, with any of the Raiders or other non-Lost Islanders -- that Always most resembles his mother. Maybe he feels some responsibility towards her legacy -- or maybe he just doesn't like being reminded that these ugly, worthless sons of bitches still have working minds, while his mother is practically a vegetable.

    Gabe - On the one hand, I think Always sees Gabe as something of a fellow-traveller; it's obvious how much Gabe cares about people, and how worn down he gets from that feeling of responsibility. On the other hand, he feels strangely guilty about what happened to Gabe's mentor, as though that were somehow the one bad thing the Raiders did that he bears some geneological responsibility for. He has an irrational fear that Gabe will somehow take revenge on his mother for what her gang members did to the vet. Always admires Gabe's medical training, and wishes he had some comparable knowledge or skill.
  • So my plan had been to take +augury for my followers straight off the bat, but I think I'll hold off and see what sort of trouble Rhyme & his family can get into trying to use it, first.

    So I'll grab +1 sharp as my first advance, since Always seems to really like reading people.

    Back down to 1 xp.
  • So I'm going to spend my second advance in advance of the session reset, taking +augury for my Followers. Maybe Always will work some stuff out as the storm comes in, or who knows exactly, but I think he's been spending a lot of time in general thinking about the ocean, and what it means, and how the Lost and their keepers are involved in it all. And of course this stuff with Ciggy/Igor has obviously jogged those thoughts further along than before.

    Back to 0 xp.
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