Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Other Smeaton


So I thought I was done with the Dougal Smeaton posts, but turns out, I've got at least one left in me. I am excited about our new campaign and about my new character in it, but I notice that I still break into the Scottish accent every now and then for no damn good reason except I miss the big brute, I guess.

But here's the thing: I've mentioned this before, briefly, but he wasn't the only character I had in mind when we were setting up the campaign. I actually proposed two characters, and Dougal was the one who seemed to fit best with the rest of the group as it was taking shape. And since naamah mentioned publishing some of her initial notes as she was putting together Tom Gentry, I might as well do the same thing with the Smeaton who might have been. So here is my intial email to sargon proposing two character ideas.

Like I mentioned Monday, I had a character idea leap into my head while we were talking. Then as I was driving to see my daughter last night, it occurred to me that the group may have too many of one type or other character, so I came up with another. And no matter which one you pick, the other may be useful. So let me present the Smeaton boys.
Dougal Smeaton is the older of the two Smeaton brothers. The Smeaton family runs the Glenellon distillery near Aviemore along the Spey river. Dougal grew up around the boilers and condensers used to make the family product and experimented with steam machines when he grew older, an enthusiastic amateur like so many who helped drive science and invention in those days. His skills with machine tools and engine design are not fully developed yet, though he is an expert when it comes to boilers and pressure systems.
But when was old enough, he joined the Royal Highland Regiment (The Black Watch) or whatever Scottish unit you might have that would get him to Atlantis. He's a big man, strong, stalwart and intrepid. A trained soldier who also knows a little about steam machines and is eager to learn more.
His younger brother Torin Smeaton is a different character altogether. He also grew up around the family business, but was more interested in the product of the distillery than the equipment used to make it. He was fascinated at the thought that barley could be transformed into something entirely different. As soon as he was old enough, he began to travel to other distilleries in other countries, learning more about the art of distilling spirits. In Italy, he discovered that different herbs could be used to infuse multiple flavors into a product, such as Strega:
http://www.strega.it/store/product_info.php?cPath=1&products_id=1&language=en
He also had a brief affair with mysterious Italian woman (at least he thought she was Italian--they met in Italy), who introduced him to more exotic herbs, herbs which acted on the mind and psyche. In attempting to learn more about these substances--telling himself it was only to develop a new product for his family's company--he traveled to Atlantis in search of herbs unknown in Europe. In Atlantis, his studies on herbs brought him into contact with students of the Dark Arts, and almost without consciously deciding to do so, he found himself learning magic instead. When he looks back on it later, he'll wonder if perhaps his winding path was actually directed from outside, by Fate or by some other Power.
So there you have the forgotten Smeaton, as well as a first look at what would eventually evolve into the Smeaton we now know. Sargon expressed a preference for Dougal and suggested that he might be an officer for greater latitude of action. But I saw Dougal as more of an NCO. Which led to a bit more exploration of his possible background.

Thinking about this further, the Coldstream Guard/1st Atlantean Rifles obviously is the way to go. If there's any kind of technology exchange with Atlantis or something, he might have joined for that reason, which would have caused some hard feelings with his father, who would have preferred he join a Highlands unit..
As far as his age, I'm thinking he's probably mid-20's, like 25 (Torin is younger, closer to 21 or 22). And as far as freedom of action, what if he had been cashiered from the service, dishonorably discharged for some offense he didn't commit. It wasn't bad enough to get him thrown in jail, but it was bad enough for them to dismiss him (or maybe it _was_ bad enough to throw him in jail, if the case against him had been stronger). So he's military-trained, but not actually serving. Too broke to go home (and his Dad might not welcome him back with open arms anyway, after leaving Scotland to join some crazy Atlantean unit, then getting thrown out for dishonorable conduct).
As far as his military job, I don't know enough about the tech level of the Rifles to speculate. Maybe artillery or a mortarman, or a driver of some sort if they have war machines. Crewing one of those would have improved his engineering knowledge, also, I would think.
Best ideas I can come up with without more detailed knowledge of game world.

There was a little more back and forth, but it was mainly about what kind of engineering he might be good at. Finally, by the first game day, we had a more-or-less finished character: Dougal Smeaton, ex-artilleryman, engineer at the Phoenix Steamworks, engaged in building a steam-powered submersible for Sir Walter Graves and then pressed into service to help find him. It took a few weeks to really find his rhythm, and then it was a really fun ride. I can't imagine how the group would have looked with Torin in there instead.

1 comment:

efamar said...

Oh, how strange! My world view just skewed slightly as I tried to imagine Atlantis without OUR Smeaton and with a different Smeaton in his place. It would have been a completely different game, I think.