Monday, 5 June 2017

Creating backgrounds...

Hello and welcome back to the Purgatory BLOG!
Today we want to talk to you a little bit about creating the background and how some of the characters, mechanisms or the contributing factors on what the world is like and how we got there.
We have talked before about the creative process. How we take an idea, spin it, flip it and turn it inside out to bring something new to an existing theory or idea, but's delve into some detail...
... Why Purgatory?
Did you know, that Purgatory is barely mentioned in the bible? It is alluded to but never really spoken about. In addition, the 'War for Heaven' is only really spoken about in one of the books, Ezekiel (chapter 26, verse 20) - where in actual fact again, it doesn't say a lot. So when you receive the background book (which is part of the rule book) , weighing in at a sturdy 30 pages itself, you gain a sense of perspective of just how much thought has gone into our world. It's almost from scratch, but tethered to something that could, or could not exist.
Purgatory as a meaning is "a place or state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners who are expiating their sins before going to heaven." or "mental anguish or suffering."  It very much represents being stuck between two places, suffering because of previous sins.
When we designed the world and game some thing resonated with us, in that there were many takes on a futuristic existence, a post apocalyptic scenario or a fantasy setting. We were keen to avoid these settings because you can easily list a number that already existed.
Because of the limited number of angel products on the market, we went down this road and found that it enabled us to really explore the complete history of mankind, the texts within the bible itself whilst still having room to explore other worlds, races and civilisations. All of which were anchored into place by these beings that are littered through our up bringing as emissaries of a God. 
So what did Purgatory become?
It couldn't be back in the time of the Egyptians. If you look in the bible and compare timelines, the book of Ezekiel refers to a period where the Egyptians and Chinese Dynasties were in ascendance or growing quickly. To make it in that period would have given as a game that would be limited in capacity and if you think about it, short of making magicians (and creeping into a fantasy setting) the chances of humans with no armour, spears and slings didn't offer much prospect of standing up against the angels.
No instead, we stuck to the traditional timeline as shown in the bible and we used these civilisations as a starting point, where angels first met humans and vice versa. It anchored us to a timeline and gave us from that point onward to explore individuals and events since that time and apply our own take. The canvas was almost clean.
Because we wanted Purgatory to be unique, fresh but with a familiar feeling, having the angels on Earth for a long time, gave us scope to develop the angels themselves. Giving personalities to demi Gods is not easy but by mixing in a splash of the bible, conflict in the homeland and some bitter enmities we were able to start bringing these individuals to life. Creating feuds, back stories and reputations without the risk of getting it wrong.
Purgatory is set around 30 years from now. So technology has advanced but not so far that we have become cyborgs or that machines have taken over. We are in a period where the cataclysmic events have been building for thousands of years to this point, where in the current year, renegade angels have revealed themselves and are laying waste to our species.
War on Earth...
War is something synonymous with man. We excel at it and over the years every nation has warred at some point of another with fellow man. It can be for the simplest of slights or through the grandest of schemes however until recently, technology or the capability to build world ending devices has been limited. No matter Attila the Hun rampaged across Europe with a bunch of horses, it was never going to be the end of humanity. Though the clear and present threat of nuclear weaponry not only wipes out your adversary but also the entire eco system.
By setting it now, those threats can exist in our world but are not two a penny. Weaponry has advanced but guns still exist and have not been replaced by planet destroying lasers. Cars and transport is recognisable though the skies are busier as commuters have taken wing in order to get to work more swiftly.
Despite a number of years where the fallen angels rampaged and enslaved us by the million, the intervention of the counter point in our world, those angels still loyal, checks this in its tracks and though whole cities, towns and villages have been wiped off the map, large cities still exists and mankind has become the rodents around the feet of greater beings.
Not all of them do, but most of the main cities are home to one angel or another. They are the 'barracks' for gangs to dwell and scurry around whilst not attacking other angels or on some specific task. They are dens of depravity, disease, extortion and misery in most cases as the angels expend our miserable lives at the wave of a hand.
Humans, the new vermin...
Even vermin can kill the mightiest hero and designing a world where humans could exist and eek out a 'life' (if it can be called that) was fundamental. Angels vs. angels would be too much, making it no different to a superhero game where the person with the greatest powers (Hulk) would end up on top every time. No, instead we have a limited number of angels which adds some perspective. 
Rightly enough these beings are a cut above. They are demi Gods, but there are not immortal, nor invincible and humans can do some serious damage in the right circumstances.
Let's face it, we all love a good underdog story.
So the angels act as a centre point. A focus for your force, giving it an underlying theme or style that you can either go with or deviate as you see fit. The humans are then the vermin by their feet, running around and biting and gnawing at each other, expending each other lives as if it were a tap carelessly left to drip.
Mix it all up and what do you get?
You get a bag of cats. A very angry bag of cats. Jokes aside by setting a scene, that runs almost the entire course of recorded history, adding a pinch of the supernatural, a dash of superior beings, a glimpse of our future and well known individuals as a base you actually get something quite truly unique with limitless opportunities.
But that still had challenges. How, exactly, do you propose to bring a person back who is already dead? How can say Atilla, exist at the same time as Tut-ank-amun? This was a challenge and as with everything else that really can't be explained, we turned to good old fashioned magic and the unknown to find a solution.
Portals... Doorways to the answer....
How do you bring a person back from the dead, as a character? Simple, the gates of hell opened up.. vomiting forth all of those long dead... stereotypical answer here. Though in truth, we used an element of that, but we had to go deeper, because the same old nagging thought kept returning. "So if hell and heaven emptied like a nightclub in Ipswich on a Friday night, how many humans would that leave on earth?"
This prompted many calculations and significant levels of research into local birthing records across the UK and the world, seeking out registry offices for the most comprehensive data available..... yeah right. We didn't do that. That's a bare faced fib. But it did beg the question, if you were at a deli counter and the number you got represented your number, i.e. human number '1234....', what number would you get? How many humans have existed?
The best answer was quite simply. A lot. Certainly too many to have running around on earth at any one time. There's just not enough Panini stickers to go around, just think of all of those unfinished world cup sticker albums....arghhhhh!!!!
So we came to the decision that we needed a control mechanism to limit the number of humans on earth at any one time. This required serious thought, because unless we could counter it, it was back to square one, the whole premise might have to change....
.... and then, on the 7th day, the brain farted and God was pleased....
Portals - Gateways to the soul...
So what if, not all of the dead came back at once? Ok, so a new path was being explored but let's face it, it's not like the dead operate on shifts... "oi Joseph, put that atrocious technicolour nonsense down, you're up... " nope. that simply wouldn't do.
Ok, but what if the world had a limit. Maybe mother nature has a plan. Because let's face it, every time we cure a disease and grow older, some hairy badger like cancer comes along and restores the balance. So was it too far fetched to think that mother nature decreed that 17 billion and 3 people could only live on the earth at one time (the number was picked at random) and if it goes above, someone has to croak.... a simple 'law of balance' to an extent.
This thought had merit so it was explored some more. Ok, so basically a heap of people came back and then when they died, some others came back and we ended up on a huge cycle of rebirth.... oooh... this sounded almost professional.... and then buggar... "does that means you can die again and still come back? And if so, what happens when you die?"
Oh for the love of god, stop overthinking it! (ed: but nerds love to break theories....)
Before facing this fresh problem, we decided that a number of portals existed on the earth, which dumped the previously deceased back on to earth at random, with no pattern or predictable facet whatsoever. We had a start.
So what happens when you die?
It's a question mankind has sought the answer to since the first time it occurred. And we at Purgatory we have the answer! Well, we have our answer anyway.
So ok. Joe Bloggs died in 1823, angels rocked up, Purgatory happens and now he is back. What happens if he gets killed again? Well to state the obvious, he dies.
But, but, but.... when does he come back?
This question kept coming up over and over again. So we deliberately decided to be vague. Nobody knew. You could come back in 1 second, 1 minute, 1 week or 50 years. It was never the same. More importantly, you wouldn't always come back through the same portal in the same country, nor would you come back to our earth at all (ooooooohhh wall break!!! )....
This gave rise to a number of things. Firstly, it gave us some crowd control. Our version of sheeping, so successfully applied in world of warcraft. Secondly, it gave us a number of narratives.
Firstly it gave us the possibility of gangs waiting for 'long lost' gang members, as well as gang members accidentally turning up in a rival gangs zone.
Most importantly however, it gave life to humans trying to understand what the actual feck was going on. The scientists across the world combined to try and destroy the portals, then when that couldn't happen, they tried to understand them, to see if a pattern or mechanism existed to control or predict what was going on. More importantly, data was gathered on how many people came back, what era or age they came from and the frequency.
It also prompted people to try and walk through the portals....
If you throw a stone into the sea....
... it's never spits it back (unless of course you have met a mermaid, or ferocious which on second thought, I have met quite a few... anyway...) so actually, whilst humans don't know it yet, if you willingly walk though a portal, you don't ever come back. You don't 'die' automatically, no, though that might occur imminently, depending on where you end up, but you certainly go somewhere else..... giving birth to the other galaxies and realms within our ultraverse! more on that later....
So actually we are poking these portals with sticks and our curiosity, in order to overcome them, has led us to try and conquer or know them. To which we have failed. This narrative continues and is something we can pick up and drop off as an on-going arc that we can introduce new characters from and attribute to.
What's dead may never truly die...
So I borrowed that line from GoT for a brief moment, because with us it has some resonance. Ok, so we had our mechanism, plus some crowd control, added to a pinch of the unknown and to coin marvel, an expanded universe. We had options and we were pleased.
Then the stupid brain said again... "But what actually happens when you die...... again....?" Hmmm... you might be thinking, what does it matter. Logic states that if you die, you leave some remains. If people are culled by the million, then a million more arrives 5 minutes later and then they die, that's a lot of corpses and you certainly want to be at a crematorium, cos clearly that is where the money's at! holla! no...
No a new mechanism had to exist and in this we doubled knotted it into the game. When you die, you burst into nothingness. You are unmade. Completely. All that remains, at the point in which you died is your soul. a little firefly of glowing green light that sits in the spot that you perished until such time as it might them suddenly disappear.
Mankind doesn't understand these yet, they cannot explain why all of a sudden this ball of light is there one minute and then gone the next. What does it mean? Well, as the equivalent of a God for the purposes of this endeavour.... (yes! I can finally call myself a God and genuinely have some merit.... tick....) ... we know the answer.
The little green light. Your soul, will sit in place for a period of time. When you re materialise, the soul flees the place of your death and attaches itself to you when you return. This explains why there is no defined period of time and why sometimes scientists can't understand why the soul lingers or disappears immediately. Simply put, because you don't appear next to the point you died, but anywhere on this world of the next, there is no correlation.... oh my god.... it actually makes sense!
To go full circle, like that of life (how topical), there is a scenario in the rules, where you go around collecting the souls of the dead as objectives. It's like chainmail... so many links!
Did you say other worlds?
Yes. Though we won't go into too much of that right now. Yes other worlds exist, this will allow us to bring whole new races and creatures to the game and offer that 'expansion potential' and whilst a few races exist, they will come a little bit later because the story has only just begun on earth. So let's do some more of that first.
Needless to say, that if we can walk though portals to other worlds, unbeknownst of course, so can other races and civilisations walk through them to ours.
More importantly however, they act as a way for the angels to traverse the galaxy, because they do know what they do... because they made them! (spoiler alert)
What have we done?!?!
It's quite daunting but actually we have created the ultimate canvas, a world that is recognisable and limitless at precisely the same time. We have created an era that is easily relatable because it's set now and in 20-30 years, yet managed to bring large aspects of the unknown!
We have an anchor in religion, the bible and fantasy of angels, devils and creatures of legend which we can intersperse through our creation at will.
We have clear leaders and a story arc that takes us across thousands of years, capturing key personalities and era's but where a singular entity of strength underpins the dregs. The angels and the enmity that exists between them, as well as the familial too, focuses the game in something that is not just humans vs. humans. Though there is nothing wrong with that, the lack of celestial or higher beings restricts and limits the content.
Having angels not only allow you to soar into the skies and create new mechanisms, if shifts the power base so that humans are just grots and grunts. Mankind is literally the dregs of the new society and we are all of a sudden at the bottom of the food chain.
So much to enjoy....
The background book, which I have written, starts the journey. It tells you about how the Gods created life, how the angels were made and why and how they fell from grace and how heaven is on the brink of hell. It talks of the aftermath, intertwining key events from our history into the fortunes of the angels hidden amongst us, finally leading to the Age of Purgatory and the setting/background for our game and world.  
We hope you enjoyed this. I enjoyed writing it because it gives me the opportunity to share our passion and joy at our creation. I think it gives you a sense of depth, scope and detail that whilst we may have flirted with before, this represents a full on kiss on the lips experience, opposed to a coy glance across the room.
We are nearly there and we want to scoop you up on our magic carpet and take you with us, whooping and screaming with each ebb and flow as we careen into a world littered with hopelessness, fatigue and desperation. A world where demi Gods stalk the earth and where aliens are taking their first steps on a new world. We want to take you to a new age, an age that isn't borne of advancement but instead one that takes us to the brink... we want to take to you an age where we face our sternest test to yet.... we want to take you to the Age of Purgatory....
... and what will we call this?
Surely, there can be no better way of explaining the next chapter of something with the bible amongst it bedrock then by labelling it accordingly because this literally is....
.... a New Testament....
Enjoy the read folks, please, please, let us know what you think about this BLOG, we love to hear your thoughts!
All the very best
Team Purgatory