This was the first paragraph I ever wrote for Redwing’s Gambit. Remember, at the time all I had at my disposal was the d20 version of the game and not the FATE manuscript.
Dan Daget, a salt-of-the-earth Asurburan, is the security chief on a ship called the Haldis. His group, which is led by a sultry Asurburan cyborg named Cass Leary, has been paid by Redwing Securities to transport a high-ranking politician to his new home on Illia* on the other side of the Frontier Zone. Things quickly go awry when evidence of sabotage is found on board and one of their crew members winds up missing. To find out who the culprit is before anyone else gets hurt, Daget must enlist the help of a violent Urseminite named Fang. Will Daget uncover the saboteur and fend off space pirates? Or will he find out that his client is a lot more than they bargained for?
The treatment evolved from the original concept for a number of reasons. At the time, I thought the story required one perspective, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. One mystery in a closed environment was “okay,” but it wasn’t enough for the readers to get a feel of what makes Bulldogs! a cool science fiction setting. Initially, my thinking was that an observant character could really dig into and tell a tale, highlighting the different aspects of the alien races and the worlds. Boy, was that ever wrong! While that technique sounds good, it didn’t work when I started writing it because I bored myself going on and on and on… I’ll talk a lot more about those evolving aspects in parts 3 and 4.
After I wrote up the premise, my next step was to focus on characters. I tweaked the premise to give all of the characters something to do. In other words: why are they traveling through space?
Premise: A group working for Redwing Security has been paid to transport a reformed mobster-turned-politician to his new home on Illia.
In a game, when players are sitting around a table, the GM has to provide the group with a reason to be together. With a full crew and cast of many characters in this story, I had to come up with a short centralized idea or goal that the characters had a vested interest in. The crew works for a company called Redwing Securities and they were paid to transport a new politician named Vincent Twist to the planet Illya. Bam! There’s the central goal. They’re all employees — not pirates, run-a-ways, or rebels — and they have to get a politician from point A to B. Where, when, and how they make it there is another story.
Certainly, any tale that has a crew or a group of characters working together will require this same sort of thing. Star Trek was about a crew that explores space from an archaeological perspective. While there was meta-plot, the episodic format lent itself to “explore strange new worlds.” Star Wars was about Rebels thwarting the Empire. At the heart of Dune was the struggle to control spice on a micro and macro level. Whether it’s on a large scale or a small one, ensemble casts have to have some reason for their existence otherwise the plot will be very convoluted and the reader will get confused. Sometimes the author, too!
From this main premise of transportation, I built the characters and included “the ties that bind.” Or, in other words, how the characters feel about one another. I did this for two reasons: one, this setting and game is owned by Galileo Games. Whenever I write tie-in fiction, I want the publisher to be involved in the creation process because I am writing for them and their fans. Some publishers are more hands on than others, but approvals are still important. Brennan’s feedback and input shaped the story and the characters; you’ll find out more about what Brennan’s involvement was when I talk about revisions.
Here are the character descriptions as I originally wrote them up. You’ll find out what changed (and what stayed the same) as I dive more into the structure and plot next time around. I’d also like to point out that I’m consciously avoiding the mechanical bits because I don’t want to conflict with any future plans Brennan has for these characters.
Name: Cass Leary
Class: Engineer, Social (Mata Hari)
Race: Arsubaran Cyborg
Group Role: Team leader
Description: After suffering life-threatening wounds, Cass was brought back to life by Violet Dunn through an experimental procedure. Those who come into contact with her may not realize that she’s a cyborg, for her implants have been well-matched to her red skin, black hair and red eyes. A highly-skilled social artisan, Cass Leary charms all those who cross her path, and has even managed to convince a fierce Urseminite named Fang to be her personal bodyguard. She has no problem diffusing tense situations but prefers not to work with psychics because they cramp her style.
On this mission, Cass’s primary objective is to get Vinnie to his new home on Illia as quickly as possible. Although he was legally elected, she does not trust him — especially around the medical wing where Violet and her young assistant, Edna Keene, spend their time.
Name: Talus Paloç
Group Role: Mechanic
Secondary Group Role: Impromptu Therapist
Description: A well-renowned engineer, Talus is a likeable mechanic whose only flaw is his over-confidence in his abilities. Instead of relying on assistants or apprentices, he often programs robots to perform what he calls “menial tasks.” Because of his magnetic personality, team members often go to him to rant and get advice. Talus is fiercely protective of his friends and loves a good story, but is a little insecure about his appearance. While he has a crush on Cass, if he had a good reason to, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill Fang or the creepy Dan Daget that always seems to be lurking around. After all, he should be the only one with a secret on board.
Name: Vinnie Twist
Race: Ken Reeg
Group Role: Client
Description: A former crime boss, Vinnie Twist recently won the title of High Sadralla of the planet Illia. His recent (and well-publicized) conversion to the Monosolar religion was cited as the primary reason why he was elected to this elite position. A consummate charmer, Vinnie has a soft spot for beautiful women and piles of cash. His personal mantra is not just to get what he wants, but to get what everyone else wants, too. After tying up loose ends in his home colony outside the Frontier Zone, Vinnie hired Redwing Security to safely transport him back to Igdrassa. Since it is common knowledge this small colony sits at the base of the largest gemstone mine on Illia, rumor has it that several space pirates and bounty hunters will try to kidnap him before he sets foot in office.
Name: Dan Daget
Group Role: Bodyguard
Description: A former professional wrestler, Dan Daget believes that the way to enlightenment is through his physical prowess. When he’s not keeping a close eye on his fellow crew members, he can be found testing his physical limits. Though he’s an excellent listener, Dan has a hard time trusting people. Overprotective at times, Dan won’t hesitate to throw himself in the line of fire for the safety of his crew. On this mission, Cass handpicked Dan from her personal contacts and is paying him extra to keep a close eye on Vinnie Twist.
Name: Violet Dunn
Group Role: Chief Medic
Description: Violet Dunn was a high-ranking military physician before she joined Redwing Securities. She is a pioneer in the field of cybernetics and was the first physician to successfully fuse high-tech robotic parts to Arsuburan flesh. Although she left the military voluntarily, Violet is reluctant to talk about her past and her relationship with Cass Leary. Some of the other crew members don’t trust her because of her mysterious connection to the military. Because she feels like an outsider, Violet often goes out of her way to win her crewmates over by enhancing their abilities or appearances through drugs and surgery. Since she goes wherever Cass goes, Violet had no choice but to join this mission. Violet hasn’t shared her views with anyone else, but she has a personal grudge against the Ken Reeg.
Pilots: Two slug-like beings. Splish and Oogle.
Ship name: Haldis
* Republished from my original notes. The spelling of the planet Illia was changed to Illya for readability and consistency purposes.
Other Parts to this Series
- Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Easter Eggs – Part 5 of 5 will be published on April 23, 2012.
- Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Revisions and Cut Text – Part 4 of 5 will be published on April 16, 2012.
- Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Structure and Plot – Part 3 of 5 will be published on April 9, 2012.
- You are reading Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Characters and Treatment – Part 2 of 5
- Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Research and Background Part 1 of 5
About Redwing’s Gambit: Redwing’s Gambit, the first novella for the Bulldogs! RPG, debuts today in digital. This story was written by Monica Valentinelli and will be published by Galileo Games, creator of the Bulldogs! RPG. This RPG was originally published with a d20 system in 2005. It has since been updated and released in a new edition which employs the Fate mechanic in 2011.