Building a Haven (PART 3)

Serenity lives and breathes the ancient superstitions of the Bayou. They adorn their walls and doors with voodoo trinkets and other items of irrationality. They have been taught by the forerunners of Serenity that only their faith in these traditions shall gird them from the dark reach of The Black Dream. And so it is no surprise that Lt. Col. Stryker and his Honor Guard stand at the pulpit of authority of this haven. They are the living embodiment of the collective fears and beliefs of the citizen population. Stryker and his guardsmen care not for the mundane challenges of surviving a large population of survivors through the Dystopia. Important issues like procuring food and water or improving the quality of life for Serenity citizens is left to the people. His only concern is The Sickness—keeping it out of the haven and expelling it when it does slip through. Stryker’s rule is modeled heavily around the zealous (and sometimes monstrous) practices of the CDC Witch Hunters. The ends always justify the means to the CDC, and they always tie their agenda to a religious ideal to foster dogged loyalty. In this case, Stryker’s brutal authority has been sanctioned by the people who hold to the belief that the “1000 count” is sacred and must be protected at all cost.

There are three major citadel towers in Serenity surrounded bound to one another by walkways over a hundred feet in the sky. Each citadel is surrounded by lesser buildings that connect at lower levels. Each citadel is governed by a different House of affluence. The lesser buildings are inhabited by lesser live cells who have sworn fealty to these reigning powers. Each House has one person appointed Cabal by Stryker. These Cabals (another position influenced by the CDC hierarchy) have been vested with the power to rule their respective citadels as they see fit, provided that they always report to Stryker and ultimately serve his will. These Cabals are responsible for handling the daily challenges of life in the Dystopia—food, protection, quality of life, etc. And each Cabal has his own way of tackling these unique challenges.

The Citadels are generally a refined and cultured place to live. The citizens of Serenity have put much work into making the upper floors something akin to a dystopian paradise, for whatever that’s worth. They have salvaged some of the lost wealth of New Orleans and adorned the top levels with pictures, statues, lavish drapes, and other items of affluence. They have planted rooftop gardens and raise small animals (though such things come nowhere close to being able to feed the entire population of Serenity). However, as you descend to the lower levels, the luxuries fall away like a distant dream, and the nightmare of the Dystopia begins to take root once more.

Each citadel has its first two floors completely submerged in black waters. Radiation has tapped into the swamp and breathed new life into a number of horrific abominations. The Sickness breeds and multiplies in the waters and that has become a very real threat to Serenity. The most prominent citizens of Serenity live above the squalor, but the lesser cells in the smaller buildings are daily faced with the growing ranks of the “Bayou-born.” They cling to a strange power to protect them—an offshoot of magic born from the some of the lost Voodoo traditions that sleep in the watery grave of New Orleans. These are not the traditions that have been passed down by Magi elders, but there is strength in it nonetheless. The denizens of these sub-levels are also teaching these rites to the refugee camps on the outskirts of Serenity to help gird them against the dangers of The Sickness as well. As the voodoo tradition continues to gain influence, the citadel folk continue to speak about their growing fears in hushed whispers. While they hold some of the same superstitions, they cannot find the will to summon power from it, and so they are afraid. The talk in the skyline is that the denizens below use these powers to commune and mate with the radioactive monsters lurking below. Perhaps they hope to entice Stryker to bring down his wrath and condemnation on them.

There is one power that Stryker exercises that we have not yet discussed yet. When a citizen of Serenity perishes, it is Stryker who decides which House will be allowed to increase its population to account for the loss. As you can imagine, there is much political posturing and bribing in this process, for numbers equate to power. In perhaps the most uncomfortable (but necessary according to Stryker) is the Rebirth Ceremony. Once a House is chosen, that Cabal must call forth the man and woman who will deliver this new child into the world and they’re required to consummate Stryker’s will before him, his Honor Guard, and the Cabals. If the woman is not with child by a month’s time, a new House may be chosen.


More questions… these are getting a little more specific… so again, be as detailed as you like!

  1. Who are these three Houses?
    What are their names? How do their beliefs and traditions differ? What are areas in which all three agree? Where do their differences cause bitter enmity?
  2. Who are these Scavengers and Traders?
    In the last post the idea was suggested that certain gladiator-like champions would be called to go out and acquire food and other necessities for the citizens of Serenity. I rather like this idea, but is this something that a specific House does, or do all three practice this? Is it a collective effort between all three Houses, or do these champions compete with each other? What are these individuals called? How are they chosen? Are the “best” chosen, or as suggested last time, is it the criminals and those who have fallen out of favor that are chosen as an act of redemption?
  3. How does Stryker rule?
    Stryker’s paramount concern is the Sickness and the 1000 person superstition. So… does he take some kind of daily census? Who makes up this Honor Guard? For that matter, do they count towards the 1000 person population limit? Basically… what is a day in the life of Stryker?

22 responses to “Building a Haven (PART 3)

  1. The names of the three houses are: Faith, Hope, Charity.
    They are highly competitive with each other. Each swears that they have the one and only answer as to how all should live. When The House of Charity (Love) begins to conquer all, The House of Faith and The House of Hope are cast into a lower social position and both of these Houses become enraged with jealousy. They bond together against Charity and no visible war takes place, but at every turn of events we find Faith and Hope undermining Charity’s efforts to bring Peace back to Serenity. When these houses were named, they signed a contract with each other to be forever ALL FOR ONE, and that ONE was Serenity. But, these three houses are made up of former earthlings who were once known as HUman BEings. After centuries have passed, the Manings have been lost and they are now known as HUBE ies…and …. soon as Hubris….the very evil they set out to avoid becoming…

    Scavengers begin going out of each of the three houses, but soon Hope dominates in the area of acquiring necessities. Hope(for some unknow reason and not at all understood) is extremely successful in find these necessities. Therefore in time, Faith stands back and simply reaps Hope’s rewards

    How are they chosen? Stryker chooses them at first, but as I said, Hope dominates in the long run.

    Stryker lives up to his name and spends his day, his life, striking out excesses of every type. The House of Faith, The House of Hope and The House of Charity all live up to their names, just as people always have, but who named Stryker? Who granted him so much power? Why does Stryker simply perform his “duties” and not ever question the reason he does what he does. Does Stryker have a mate? Is Stryker male or female or something in between? When, (male) Stryker’s mate become pregnant with a child, the spitting image of Stryker himself, and this chld makes the count go over 1,000…..does Stryker strike?

    Did this happen eons ago and that is how and why Stryker is now called Stryker and has such a toughness about him that he is honestly able to strike other beings like himself out of the picture?????


  2. Who are these three Houses?
    What are their names? How do their beliefs and traditions differ? What are areas in which all three agree? Where do their differences cause bitter enmity?

    I like most of Nan’s idea for this, actually, though I would personally eschew the “HUBIES- Hubris” connection. I think it’s enough to link the three Houses to the ideals, and let the corruption of them speak for themselves.

    Who are these Scavengers and Traders?

    Perhaps instead of having the major Houses send out the Scavengers and Traders, the minor Vassal Houses of each Main House can send out their own Champions to gather the supplies, as the Tithe they owe to their Leige Lords.

    Each main house, as mentioned, has Vassal Houses- perhaps each should be named according to their parent house? Example:
    House Faith’s subhouses could include House Piety, House Devotion and House Sanctuary.
    House Hope’s subhouses could include House Virtue, House Dedication, and House Inspiration.
    House Charity’s subhouses could include House Seflessness, House Philanthropy and House Oblation.

    Add or subtract Vassal Houses depending on the size of the Leige Lord House.

    Each of the Vassal Houses can send out groups of Champions (or hire outsiders, if they have none) to scavenge things to pay their Tithes or feed their own Houses.

    How does Stryker rule?
    Stryker’s paramount concern is the Sickness and the 1000 person superstition. So… does he take some kind of daily census? Who makes up this Honor Guard? For that matter, do they count towards the 1000 person population limit? Basically… what is a day in the life of Stryker?

    Perhaps instead of Stryker himself takign a Census, each of his Cabals takes a population count during their House’s daily meal (when all the members of each House and their Vassals come together for a communal mealtime, attendance mandatory) and reports that number to Stryker. To prevent people from not showing up and being not counted, the threats of reprisal [not to mention their belief that too small or large a population will invite in the Sickness] should keep them in line.

    As for Stryker’s Honor Guard, it would consist of two kinds of people: the Devout, and the Corrupt.

    The Devout are Zealots, men and women who firmly believe in the Thousand and in the necessity of Stryker’s ruthless enforcement. They may be (initially) uncomfortable with his abuses of the system, but they’ll grow numb to it or to grow to tolerate it.

    The Corrupt are the ones who see the power and luxury that Stryker commands, and sycophantically desire to serve him so they earn his scraps. They enjoy the authority that Stryker and his Honor Guard command and serve as his guards to earn some of it themselves.

    As long as the person resides in the city of Serenity, they count towards the limit- so Stryker and his men count.

    • I like these ideas. There’s esepcially something interesting about the Three houses each having three vassal houses.

      Who are these Scavengers and Traders?

      I envisioned these traders in two ways. 1) As I suggested before, those that have fallen out of favor are sent out on these trading missions and if they survive, their transgressions are forgiven and 2) Even after they are forgiven, they may choose to stay and continue to perform missions (as with gladiators of old) for prestige and the perks that come along with being able to visit other locations. Perhaps this is even their trial system: “If he is guilty, let the Dystopia decide” kind of thing.

      I would say that Stryker appoints the Captain of these missions. Whereas it is considered a trial or what have you to be on the crew, it is conversely seen as a great honor to be chosen as the Captain for a trade mission. Perhaps you had to have been a Captain as a prerequisite to even be considered for a position of authority in the three houses (which, for those paying attention, means that all authority figures are ultimately filtered through Stryker).

      How does Stryker rule?

      I see Stryker as being eternal and an essential part of Serenity. Perhaps one of his gifts is that of immortality. Perhaps he was able to present this in some form or fashion to the population of Serenity and this is what gives creedance to his authority.

      The honor guard should be made up of three people from each house (the liege or vassal houses) and are chosen by Stryker. Again, they needed to go through the trial of being Captain of a trade mission to be considered (no cowards allowed). Stryker and his honor guard should count toward the limit. Thats 10 people of 1,000…that’s 1 percent of the population, which is fine.

      • J.C. If Stryker is eternal and immortal, then he is not one of the 1000. It is my understanding that the 1000 are all basically of the same species (family). It seems to me that if Stryker is immortal, eternal, powerful, in charge, then it is his game, his call, his house (so to speak.) And if that is the case, he does not need us and does not even want us.

        If Stryker is immortal, he simply arose out of necessity or evolution, and if he is eternal, then he has enough power to “fix” everything that is amiss. So, who needs anyone else? I think Stryker has to be one of the masses, but one who is more intelligent, more trustworthy, more nutritionally sound than the rest. How (if that is the case) did he get that way? And where did he come from? Did the masses name him Stryker because they saw the power he displayed as Striking others out of existence? onward and upward my friends….fun discussion so far…I think…having a good time…listening…and watching…

      • It seems to me that someone “ordinary” does not get into the position that Stryker is in by just being slightly better than everyone else in brawn, brains and social graces…especially in such a superstitious community as this is turning out to be. He would have to display some ability that is unique or at the very least well above and beyond anyone else in the establishment to prevent any possible power plays. Hence the immortality bit. When I say immortal, I mean in the Highlander sense, not the “I can’t be killed regardless of the circustances” sense. There is one way to kill the man and he’s not talking…

        As for his origins…well that is relatively unknown to the residents of Serenity. Makes sense that you would want to leave some things as a mystery so that GMs can have some fun if players show interest.

  3. Has it been decided that Stryker is male? Female? Chameleon-like? with the ability to decide which s/he will be in any given situation?

    • I’ve been steadfastly envisioning Stryker as a male figure, simply because it fits the convenient archetype of a masculine name and position, as well as the traditional male role lending itself towards violence and despotism.

      • Have you read the Dragon Tattoo trilogy by that Swedish author? Have you seen the 3 original Swedish movies? Are you aware of Lizbeth? Her motive? Her intelligence, savvy,artistry, physical endurance and courage? I rest my case…lol…

  4. Has it been decided that Stryker is male? Female? Chameleon-like? With the ability to decide which s/he will be in any given situation?

  5. Awesome conversation so far!

    Definitely a lot of intrigue and interest surrounding Stryker. I agree that much of his identity and past should be shrouded in mystery. This allows FateDealers (storytellers) to weave their own ideas into the Stryker mythos. Personally, I think it would be good to have some ambiguity behind the true power of Stryker. Perhaps the main houses deify him, while the lesser houses think he’s just another man.

    Here’s one other idea I had while reading through this thread… it seems we are fairly settled on the main Houses being Faith, Hope, and Charity. I like the religious undertone which backs the superstition of this place well (it also complements the name of the haven). What if the lesser Houses held to more traditional, French/Louisiana/Cajun-esque names? I am really starting to see a stark contrast behind the highly sophisticated and affluent “High Households” versus the lower Houses that are perhaps more entrenched in Voodoo traditions. They all share the overarching belief of the 1000 (and again… we are still left to wonder where such a belief originated), but past that, they diverge radically in philosophy and practice.

    I’m also throwing this idea out from a practical standpoint. If every House has a faith-based title, they may all start blending together for players.

    I will keep this thread going for another 24-48 hours… then I’ll post the next set of questions.

    • I think a philosphical and practical difference between the liege and vassal houses would be great! It only makes sense and would allow for some very interesting role playing opportunities.

    • Fair enough- though I confess I’d be well and truly out of my depth to try and come up with some traditional Cajun/Louisiana/Creole names for the Vassal houses. Although I do like the idea. I was trying to think of some good Voodoo-related terms I could use, but I’m fairly useless with that. I only know some basic terms, like Cheval (the vessel or a possessing spirit, from the French for Horse); Gris-Gris (a catch-all term for protective charms trinkets); a Houngon (“White” or “Good” Voodoo priest(ess)); Bokor (“Black” or “Evil” Voodoo priest(ess)); Loa, or deity figure in Voodoo practice; or Veve(r), the magic designs used in Voodoo magic.

    • Generally, most Reclamation stories will take place around 40 years after the Nuclear Cataclysm. When was the Cataclysm? That is judgment call for the main storyteller. The campaigns I have run typically presume the Cataclysm hit right around this time… so 40 years from now roughly.

      • Thanks for that info. I had in mind the year 3012, and I was going to propose something along the lines of having learned to feed ourselves internally through a “chip” installed inside our brains….those of us who were fortunate enough to be included in the 1000 number…oh well…next game perhaps? lol just kidding…

  6. A question: How important is it that the Voodoo terms are accurate? It does not seem to be at all important to me. I do not know even the ones mentioned, so it’s all Greek to me. Just a thought.

    • I mean… no… it’s not necessary depending on who you are playing the game with. However, as more research and description is put into the setting, the story gains a little more verisimilitude. There are already so many fantastical elements heir to this game, so anything that entrenches the setting into something that feels somewhat plausible, well, it helps bring the story to life. I would compare it to watching a WWII movie that is completely out of touch with actual, historical events. Depending on the audience and the nature of the story, that may be okay… but I would contest that the best movies of that genre are the ones that did their homework, so to speak.

      • I see. I think. LOL… So, we use our imaginations and create this “not very” realistic scenario, but we keep the “facts” as accurate as possible? I think I’m out of my element here, but I wish all of you the best of luck as you go forward. I will continue reading and listening and trying to keep up with it, but I do not think I will have very much to contribute.

      • “V” FOR VENDETTA
        Playing Friday, December 30 at 11:00 pm – Friday Night Flicks, Just $3 or 2 for 5

        2006/USA/R/132 min
        Director: James McTeigue
        Cast: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea and John Hurt

        Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore, “V for Vendetta” takes place in an alternate vision of Britain in which a corrupt and abusive totalitarian government has risen to complete power. During a threatening run in with the secret police, an unassuming young woman named Evey (Natalie Portman) is rescued by a vigilante named V (Hugo Weaving) — a caped figure both articulate and skilled in combat. V embodies the principles of rebellion from an authoritarian state, donning a mask of vilified would-be terrorist of British history Guy Fawkes and leading a revolution sparked by assassination and destruction. Evey becomes his unlikely ally, newly aware of the cruelty of her own society and her role in it.

        Does this sound familiar to anyone? Can we attempt to make our “game” different than the mainstream genre, or is that not desirable? Or, is our game already different in the fact that we are going to be re claiming the world for the better? Or have I missed the boat once again? Perhaps our reclamation will be the same as it was…or worse…geeze, this is complicated.

  7. The difference between Reclamation and V for Vendetta (which is an excellent movie btw), is that our world is not ruled by an oppressive dictator and the characters we play are not trying to over throw whomever. While certainly scenarios could be created to facilitate this story, either within the realm of Serenity or other haven, I don’t believe that it is enough to say that these two ideas are one and the same. A person could argue that there are no new ideas too but only reimaginings of old ones. Either way, I believe there are enough significant differences to not make a direct correlation between the two.

    While we are play testing some of the ideas currently Chris, perhaps I missed this but has it been discussed on how these houses formed and what made them align with one another? Has it also been discussed on how the 1000 number came up? Was it Stryker who united them and instituted the population limit? Just more food for thought as it has been a little bit since the last post. I realize I’m new to the discussion too but hope to become more involved.

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