... I would love an RPG with only one town in the entire game, but if each NPC is a real character.
Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! does this. For fun, here are the original townsfolk backstories:
(warning: unedited content follows. Also, these were starting points and may not reflect the chars in the game.)
These backstories were written by Adrianne Ambrose:
They are 1/10th of the game's characters. I'll post another 1/10 which I wrote. We split the writing of backstories 50/50. However, I ended up having to write the actual plot and dialog that are in the game.
Henry Picolo is always up early to fix breakfast for every bachelor in town. As the owner and cook for the town diner and automat, he is kept very busy for a large portion of each day. A little man with a pot belly, he's goes heavy on the lard when trying to get the orders out quickly during the breakfast rush. He's caught the front of his apron on fire once or twice because his stomach tends to bulge over the griddle and his apron gets spattered with grease. Between the breakfast and lunch rush he prepares sandwiches for the automat, which he owns with his wife Roslyn. By slicing the bread as thin as possible, he's found he can get an extra three slices per loaf.
When not at work, Henry can frequently be found strolling in the park. He carries a small notebook and likes to compose poetry about the weather, birds, and small animals he sees on his constitutionals. He's secretly composed several poems to a Miss M of the shinning ringlets and hides these poems in the box where his wife keeps the love letters he used to write to his her before they were married. That's one place he knows she'll never look.
Roslyn Picolo grew up dirt poor on a farm outside of Brigiton. The town, for her, had appeared as glamorous as New York City back then. When the slightly older, slightly shorter and slightly pudgy Henry Picolo had started courting her, she was dazzled by the thoughts of being married to a man that owned his own business. Now, eight years later, nothing about Brigiton has the power to dazzle her. By persistent pressure, she convinced her husband to open the automat, with her as a partner. She spends her mornings sleeping late and reading fashion magazines. She spends her evenings stocking sandwiches in slots and collecting the coins from the vending machines. Roslyn has found that she's able to squirrel away up to fifteen cents a day without her husband noticing. She keeps the coins in the box that contains her husbands wedding suit, a place he'd never look. He doesn't like to be reminded of the weight he's gained since their marriage.
Between her husband's early mornings and Roslyn's late nights, the Piccolos can go for days at a time while barely only seeing each other a few minutes a day. That suits both of them very well and has contributed to the longevity of their marriage.
Bouncer Phillip is appropriately sized for a nightclub bouncer. When people first meet him they try to call him Phil, but the bouncer makes it known pretty quickly that shortening his name won't be tolerated. His mother called him Phillip and that's his name.
Born in a fishing village in New England, Phillip grew up on the docks. He gained enormous strength as a lad helping his father haul in the day's catch, but never managed to get over his dislike of the smell of fish. At seventeen he hit the road, earning his keep for awhile as a sparring partner for a few of the less famous bare knuckle boxers of the day. But letting people hit you in the head for practice is no way to make a living. At the end of a year, all Phillip had to show for his hard work was a cauliflower ear and empty pockets.
Phillip landed his first job as a bouncer by accident. While drinking in a rough joint in Chicago, Phillip expelled a patron that was hassling one of the waitresses. The club's owner offered him a job on the spot. Phillip discovered he enjoyed bouncing unruly patrons into the street. And he also enjoyed the gratuities he was offered to look the other way while certain activities occurred in and outside of the club. Phillip would have happily spent the rest of his days working at the club in Chicago if the gambling bug hadn't bitten him. He was forced to leave the city in the middle of the night with the mob hard on his heels.
Phillip drifted from town to town for a couple of years, working either as a bouncer, a security guard or mover. He had only intended to stay in Brigiton long enough to save a little money, but soon grew to have overprotective feelings towards some of the dancers. Or, more accurately, overly protective feelings towards one of the dancers.
Phillip has made a few enemies amongst Brigiton's most prominent male citizens by being intolerant of high-spirited behavior. Any patron that gets up to shenanigans in the Nightclub will find himself in the street no matter his rank or the size of his fortune.
Lottee Alto's mother danced in the chorus of the Royal Russian Ballet. Lottee herself was trained since birth to be a dancer, but during puberty she developed too voluptuously to ever be a ballerina. All of her dance training makes Lottee stand out as the obviously superior dancer at Brigiton's Nightclub. Her beguiling moves and voluptuous body has inspired ardor from many of the club's patrons and envy from many of the other dancers. One suitor was particularly determined to catch Lotte's attention and went so far as to rush the stage in an attempt to embrace the girl during her performance. This noteworthy town leader was summarily ejected from the club by its ever ready bouncer, Phillip. Terrified that there would be repercussions against Phillip for his gallant behavior, Lottee has aloud the town leader to kiss her hand and make cow eyes at her on more than one occasion in the hopes of placating him. But the man's zeal for Lottee has only increased and the girl has begun to consider leaving town or telling his wife. Possibly both.
Yvonne Glimmerette was born in Budapest, Hungary. Her parents immigrated to the United States when she was six. A former beauty queen, Yvonne married well and divorced well three times. Her fourth marriage did not go as planned. The man owed millions rather than owned millions and as soon as they tied the knot, Uncle Sam came after Yvonne for the taxes her husband needed to pay. Yvonne also became pregnant for the first time and gave birth to a stillborn baby girl. It took years for Yvonne to extricate herself from the tangles of her last marriage and by the time she was free a lot of her beauty and charm had faded.
Still wealthy by conventional standards, but not as wealthy as she once was, Yvonne floats from one hotel to the next, frequently spending a season in a resort town or at a health spa. She enjoys conveying the knowledge she's gained about men to the young ladies she meets on her travels. She also enjoys cards, cocktails, mixing rhinestones in with her diamonds, flirting with inappropriately young men and relaxing with a jazz cigarette. No man about town has yet caught her attention, but she's sure with the right lighting and the right timing she could catch another husband with the right bank account.
Otto grew up dirt poor on a farm in Okalahoma. It taught him to despise dirt, old clothes, poor people and dingy living. As a teen, he snuck off the farm one night, hopped a train headed east and left everything about his hardy German farm stock childhood behind except his first name. Otto spent several years in New York City remaking his entire personality. He got a job in a fancy restaurant as a dish washer, then worked his way up to head waiter. While serving, he would observe the mannerisms of the rich. The way they expressed themselves, the way they dressed, everything. He also attended night school, eventually earning a degree in journalism.
When Otto Glimmermut arrived in Brigiton to accept a position as a reporter for the local paper, he was dressed in the latest New York fashions. His speech and manners were impeccable. He always centers his writing on the social elite of the city. He loves nothing better than a society scandal, an heiress besmirching her reputation, a corrupt politician, even a lost prize poodle. Anything to do with the wealthy is worth writing about in Otto's opinion. He is invited to all the best parties. Most socialites are afraid to not send him an invitation. When asked about his childhood, Otto usually lets it be implied that his parents were in cattle, but they died tragically and he doesn't care to talk about it. He alludes to an eastern education and a lost fortune that may one day be recovered.
Many a young lady has developed a crush on Otto, but he's never done more than twirl them around the dance floor. Rumor has it that he must have a husky sweetheart because when fashionable lady's gowns are shipped in from Paris or New York, he always purchases a few in the largest sizes.
Timothy Richards was a sickly child. Or at least his mother found him to be sickly. If the merest cough or sneeze escaped Timothy's lips, she would keep him home from school and send for the doctor on the double. The physician usually found nothing wrong with Timothy outside of the usual childhood flu or sniffles. He never even diagnosed the boy with having allergies. But Mrs. Richards just knew with her motherly intuition that her child was of a delicate constitution and that doctors don't know everything.
Timothy grew up with a fanaticism for hygiene. He usually kept a dose of every medication he could possibly acquire on hand, just in case he should suddenly come down with something. Schoolmates at Collinwood University, where Timothy majored in business, started dropping by to borrow cough syrup or pain liniment when they were unable to get to the store. Opening a drugstore with the money he inherited after his father's death seemed the most obvious career decision Timothy could make. Not only did he provide an invaluable service to his home town, but he and his mother had twenty-four hour access to any medication they might suddenly need.
Visitors to Brigiton in quest of some type of health aid are frequently heard to remark that the small town's drugstore has a selection comparable to the drug store of a major city. Mr. Richards even tries importing exotic cures from Europe and the Far East. He knows that if the people of Brigiton are kept as healthy as possible, there is far less of a possibility that he will catch something from one of them.
Little Lynette (Fin) Junk Lady
Little Lynette had a brief tour as the star of a vaudeville act when she was a young girl and the moniker just stuck. The fact that fully grown, she is only 4'9" has probably contributed to the nickname. In fact, most of the population of Brigiton does not know of Lynette's short career in show business and she would prefer to keep it that way.
At the age of fourteen, Lynette ran away from the dingy lights of Vaudeville to marry Jimmy Fin. Theirs was a tempestuous marriage and the couple only lived under the same roof for very brief and sporadic periods of time. Little Lynette entered the antique business when a wealthy business owner made an offer for Lynette's grandmother's cameo that she used to wear on a high-collared blouse. Lynette was a bit strapped at the time and the desire for food far outweighed the desire to keep a hold of her family's history. But, selling the jewelry made Lynette realize there was money to be made in old stuff. She immediately put up for sale her old Vaudeville steamer trunk and several of the sequined costumes she used to wear.
Because Little Lynette is tiny and has never quite lost her naïve childlike appearance, old ladies trusted her to sell their jewelry and other valuable items. With just enough success to make her overconfident, Lynette began buying out entire estates just to acquire one or two worthwhile items. Then, she was stuck trying to dispose of the rest of the contents, which usually had little to no value. As time has passed, Lynette has become more and more a junk dealer rather than the elegant antique dealer to which she originally aspired.
If a resident of Brigiton is in need of a used copper kettle, rusty pruning shears, a print of an unknown artist or a tea cup with a broken handle, Little Lynette's pushcart is the place to shop.
Beatrice Bodie is a prim little bird of a woman that dresses in very prim clothing with high button collars and long full skirts. She lives in a neat yet tiny house lined with primroses and a white picket fence. The house itself reminds passersby of a teacup in some odd manner.
Beatrice never married. She lives off the small income she received from her parents. When she was in her late teens, she was briefly engaged to a young traveling salesman that used to frequently pass through Brigiton, but she learned such a horrible story about the young man's great uncle that she broke off the engagement and refused to ever see the man again. Since then, she's spent her time cleaning her house and tending to her small garden. She also eavesdrops on everyone she possibly can. She knows of all the smut that transpires in the town and is convinced that a lot more exists if she can only catch wind of it. Her next-door neighbors are afraid to converse in their own back yards and the most innocent of conversation in any public will quickly die off if Beatrice is seen approaching for fear that any fragment of a story might be misinterpreted.
On more than one occasion Miss Bodie has Otto Glimmermut with tidbits of smut that she has overheard while sneaking around the town. At first the reporter tried to pay Beatrice for her slivers of gossip, but the lady takes much more satisfaction in seeing the firth of others printed in the paper than she would any monetary reward. Miss Bodie is particularly keen to find glean any gossip she can about the high school girls of Brigiton. She finds the girls a bit obnoxious with their low-wasted dresses and their bob haircuts. Beatrice is convinced it would do the girls some good to be the focal point of some seedy scandal that would take their high opinions of themselves down a peg or two.
About every week to ten days Beatrice receives a package from a maiden aunt in Canada. It's usually homemade bottles of bath oil or a giant bottle of perfume or some type of liniment or medicinal cure. Within a few hours of receiving a package from her Canadian aunt, Beatrice usually develops a debilitating case of the hiccups and has to spend the rest of the day resting in the house.
Madam Zambinovka speaks with a heavy, indefinable Eastern European accent. She clothes herself in richly colored fabrics of threadbare silks and damasks. The people of Brigiton and especially the inhabitants of tent town recognize that Madam Zambinovka has the gift of second sight. She is frequently approached by all levels of Brigiton society for advice on the future.
Dorothy "Dot" Crenshaw was born in Des Moines Iowa to a middleclass salesman and a housewife. Even as a child she was able to read people, their faces, their postures, their motivations, etc... Once out of school, Dot flailed around for employment. She tried being a secretary, but never quite got the hang of typing. She spent several months as a sales assistant in a Des Moines department store. There she earned record sales by always knowing exactly what the customer wanted, but was fired due to a misunderstanding over whether the wife of the department store owner appeared to her best advantage in floral prints. During this time, Dot was courted by several young men, but could usually see their baser motivations and that knowledge always quickly ended the relationship.
Dot's transition to Madam Zambinovka was a gradual one. She initially only took on the persona when working as a palm reader at fairs and costume parties. But little by little, she began to be completely absorbed into the character. Part of Madam Zambinovka's reason for moving away from Des Moines was to isolate herself from anyone that knew her as Dot Crenshaw.
In Brigiton, Madam Zambinovka spends her time, not so much reading the future as giving good advice. She can recognize when a young girl is about to make a foolish attachment or when a business scheme will go bad. It just happens that most people prefer to have their good advice wrapped in the exotic cloak of mysticism. The fortuneteller sometimes employs outlandish or erratic behavior to keep the more invasive town inhabitants at bay. She enjoys her privacy.
Madam Zambinovka has a soft spot for the inhabitants of tent town. She frequently will slip a few coins into their pockets or somehow manage to share a meal with some of the leaner folks without making her actions feel like charity. The wealthier inhabitants of Brigiton, she charges for her services without reserve. Madam Zambinovka frequently manipulates the futures of her wealthy patrons to encourage them to be more charitable and understanding.
Flatfoot Crooning earned his flat feet walking the Brigiton beat for the last eight years. He's a big guy and he's not going to bust anyone's chops unnecessarily, but he's also not going to take any guff. He knows who the hooligans are around town and he's willing to allow a certain amount of high spirited behavior, but there's a time and a place for everything. For example, fireworks are fun and everyone enjoys lighting them. But the time to light fireworks is on the Fourth of July, not outside the mayor's house in the middle of a cold September night. If Crooning happens to see some of the lads participating in certain shenanigans and then those lads decide to skedaddle, the officer will usually not give chase. His feet hurt too much after a lengthy sprint. But, the high spirited lads will want to keep their noses clean for an extended period of time. In all likelihood, Crooning will hunt down each hooligan and treat them to a little justice. Sometimes the justice borders on vigilantism and sometimes it's more to the letter of the law. The way Flatfoot Crooning sees it, it's a waste of tax dollars to haul a boy in for every little offense. Sometimes a good punch to the head serves just as well as a night in jail and the boy is more likely to learn a lesson.
----------- backstories by Keith, SEE NEXT POST ------------------