Saturday, December 3, 2011

Steampunk Concept

A couple years back a potential collaborator told me he liked Steampunk and that he'd like to draw Steampunk. I have been a fan of the genre and the art associated with it for a while now, though I do feel as if it's become a little over saturated. Eager to work with this guy though, I sat down and tried to figure out a Steampunk story I'd like to tell and this is what happened.

All in all, I'd say I spent maybe four hours crafting this original document.

Steampunk Concept - Early Thoughts and Character Designs

The main character in this story is occult investigator Edmund Graye. Graye has been traveling through Egypt and North Africa, studying what he believes to be the occult energies hidden within the sands and stones of ancient Egypt. Graye is a bit of a laughing stock of the scientific community, but there are still enough people left who believe in magick in the late 1800s that he manages to make a living, mainly due to the help of a couple of wealthy benefactors and some off the books support from the British government. Edmund is also a member of a secret society of various people (not all human, per se) devoted to occult discovery and magickal practices.

His team consists mainly of two other men, the first of whom is Beauregard Cash. Cash is the team's gadgeteer. He's an engineering wizard, but he's also a drunk, a braggart and something of a racist. Southern and proud of it, he is prone to drunken outbursts about the glory of the Confederacy, even though the Confederacy is long gone. Graye tolerates the man since his acumen in fringe science and engineering is unmatched throughout the world. Cash creates things heretofore unthought of, using primarily the steam technology of the day. Flying machines, archaeological tools, weapons and even steam-powered automatons. Cash grew bored once he'd mastered all there was to master about steam technology, so looking for a new challenge he decided to join up with Edmund Graye and his crew. Being a veteran of the war effort and a lifetime Southerner, he'd seen more than his fair share of strange and inexplicable occurrences, so he figured what the heck. Cash combines his knowledge of engineering with Graye's knowledge of the occult to create some seriously crazy ghost hunting devices.

Rounding out the group is Civil War veteran and former Buffalo Soldier Jack Reed. Reed is big, tough and quiet. He was befriended by Graye shortly after the Civil War ended while the inspector was on a mission to study the effects of the Civil War on the paranormal health of America. Graye immediately recognized and respected the courage and tenacity he saw in Jack Reed. Needing a strong man and good fighter to round out his crew, he hired Jack for a handsome sum, saving him from the unenviable life of a black man in Reconstruction America. Jack is good with a pistol but his real gift is with a Winchester rifle. A sharpshooter for his regiment during the war, he has an uncanny skill with long arms. He is also a formidable hand to hand combatant. Understandably, Jack and Beauregard have their differences, but Jack usually just ignores the man. They don't tend to deal with each other that much outside of the field and Cash, as blustery as he is, knows he'd never survive a fight with Jack Reed. Jack's most important duty is operating the cutting edge, steam powered ghost trapping machine that Cash has designed. Heavy, cumbersome and complicated, only someone as strong of body and mind as Jack Reed could carry and operate it.

The goal of Graye's team is to find a way to harness the hidden energies of the world in the hope that they could be used to power man's next century and beyond.

Strangers and Lost Ones

A Stranger is a creature of great power and immortality. Something of a vampire, they feed on the souls of their victims, not their blood. A Stranger receives sustenance from draining the life force from another human being. Just a myth throughout our history, they are masters of staying hidden, due in large part to their method of dispatching their prey. A Stranger does not age, but they are not invulnerable. The Stranger entity is nigh-immortal, but the host body can be killed just like any normal human being. They are more durable, stronger, faster, more agile, and they can heal their wounds, but they can still be killed. These powers are at their peak right after a Stranger feeds. Once a Stranger has drained a person of their essence, he has the ability to completely burn the body away. Because of this, a Stranger tends to develop a connection with the victim, at least long enough to get them secluded for a good period of time. The process takes a while and therefore is not something that can be done quickly down some dark alley. But there are problems and things do sometimes get messy. If a Stranger goes a certain time without feeding and thus starves to death, the entity that powers him will vacate the host body (thus killing the host) and attach to another worthy vessel. The Stranger entity can only be truly killed by a Lost One that it has created. If a Stranger never creates a Lost One, it could feasibly live forever in one host or in many. Since it's rare for a Stranger to be so foolish or reckless as to leave behind a Lost One, a true Stranger death is rare. Sometimes, a Stranger may be in a situation where he hasn't been able to feed for a while and will recklessly do so, not troubling himself with the consequences. Other times, a Stranger may simply be interrupted or chased off during the feeding process. Regardless of the reason, if a Stranger neglects to burn the body of the victim away, a sort of zombie like creature is created. Those creatures are the Lost Ones.

A Lost One is a body without a soul, cursed to live a lonely and ultimately emotionless existence, searching for something it lost. A Lost One is not mindless, though. Part of them, what little bit of them is left, is connected to the Stranger that created them. Because of that connection, the Lost One will always be drawn to that Stranger. Even if they don't entirely realize it, their life will lead them along a path identical to that of their creator. The only way to silence this constant drive, to erase the memory of having their soul ripped away, is to finally find and destroy the Stranger that created them. A Lost One's touch will destroy a Stranger much in the same way a Stranger's burning hand will destroy the body of their victim. It only works on the Stranger that created them though. Interestingly enough, a Lost One is immune to the burning touch of a Stranger once they've become a Lost One. A Lost One must be totally destroyed if they are to be killed. The entire body must be burned to the bone and then the bones must be scattered and destroyed. Lost One's need no sleep and no sustenance. They do not bleed and they do not feel pain. They are unnaturally strong and durable. If in the presence of the Stranger that created him, a Lost One will stop at nothing to reach him, going so far as to destroy anyone or anything that gets in its way.

Moving on...

Magadalena Deschamps - She is a powerful Stranger of French descent who belongs to the same secret society as Edmund Graye. Nobody knows exactly how old Magdalena is.

Roberta Davidson - The bride of land and cattle baron Harold Andrew Davidson, she betrays her husband and orchestrates his murder with her lover, Matthew Kelly. But Harold is a Stranger and when he dies he passes to Matthew. Matthew, in his rage and confusion, feeds on Roberta and then flees in a panic. She becomes a Lost One and begins her tireless pursuit.

Matthew Kelly - Kelly is the lovestruck young ranch hand who gets in over his head with Roberta Davidson. After he makes his escape, he is befriended by Lena Deschamps and she teaches him all about his new life and powers. When Lena is summoned to Egypt for a meeting of the society, she gladly takes her with him.

Matthew Kelly was a ranch hand working on one of Harold Andrew Davidson's vast cattle ranches. Young, strong, handsome and naive. In a word, he was the perfect lover for a young bride (Roberta Davidson) who had been nearly forced into marriage with her rich and boorish husband, Harold Davidson. Harold Davidson had become infatuated with the strikingly beautiful young woman and had leveraged his vast wealth against the poverity of her family. Young and concerned with helping her ailing family, she agreed to marry the older man, knowing that she could use his wealth to aid her family. An arranged marriage is never very successful though, and it took little time for young Roberta's gaze to wander about the strong men working her husband's ranch. Her gaze lingers though on young Mr. Kelly. Matthew is resistant at first, but there is a seductiveness and a cunning in the girl that he ultimately relents to. Their affair is passionate, desperate and secret. Before long the young couple is professing their love for one another and dreaming of running away together. It doesn't ake long for Roberta to hatch a more devious plan. She convinces Matthew that the only way they could ever be together, the only way that her husband would ever set her free, is if he were dead. They hatch a plan to murder the man and make it look like an accident. Since Roberta has yet to give the man an heir, all his fortune would pass to her and then she and Matthew could finally be together. And of course, be rich in the process. So anyway, I haven't decided exactly what they're going to do to make it look like an accident. Regardless, something goes wrong during their attempt to murder Harold and he fights back. He pulls a gun and fires on Matthew, wounding him. He's about to kill Matthew when Roberta smashes a vase over his head and takes the gun away from him. She's going to kill Harold herself, when the wounded Matthew takes the gun away from her. He cares about her too much to allow her to murder someone herself, so he shoots the man. What they don't know is that he is a Stranger. When his life force leaves his body, the entity rides with it and attaches itself to Matthew. The transformation and the process of acquiring a new host takes so much out of the entity. It needs to feed. The only person in the immediate area, of course, is Roberta. Confused, angry, in pain and consumed by a vast new hunger, Matthew lashes out and drains Roberta. Once he realizes what he's done, realizes that he is some sort of monster, he panics and flees. Since he doesn't burn away her body, Roberta becomes a Lost One.

Matthew wanders for a while, thinking that this new affliction is God's way of punishing him for the wicked things he's done. He continues to hunger, but he will not let himself feed. He just breezes through various towns out West, convinced that instead of healing him as his powers appear to have done, that he in fact died of a gunshot wound back in that room and that he is now in Hell. All of that changes when he meets Magdalena Deschamps. Magdalena is beautiful, beguiling, mysterious. She is a sporting woman and has lived that life for years, constantly moving. She is highly intelligent and educated, progressive, enigmatic and sexy. By staying on the move and occasionally changing her name, she has managed to live a very long, very luxurious, very profitable life. When she encounters Matthew, she is in America seeing to her vast mining interests. She recognizes that the boy is a Stranger like herself and takes an immediate interest in him. She finds his youth, innocence and good looks beguiling. Magadalena takes the frightened Matthew under her wing, making him not only her student but also her lover. When she gets the summons to join the society in Egypt, she does not hesitate to bring Matthew along with her.

They rendezvous with Edmund and his crew in North Africa. The society has called a special emergency meeting to discuss plans for reacting to a rising supernatural threat . A mysterious enemy organization referring to itself as Leviathan has been showing up on their collective occult radar. The organization appears to be amassing land, buying up artifacts, that sort of thing. The society has no idea who or what Leviathan is, just that they represent a threat to the world. They're scared, as flying blind isn't something that these masters of the strange and fantastic are used to doing. Their plans hit a small snag though when Roberta Davidson, or the shell that once was Roberta Davidson, shows up in Egypt and gives Matthew the shock of a lifetime.

Edmund Graye - Edmund is older but not old. I would say he's in his mid-40s. Edmund is distinguished but hes not overly handsome. He isn't a bad looking man, but years of devotion to his work rather than his personal life have taken their toll. His brown hair is graying at the edges and is beginning to recede. His form is thin but he hides muscle you wouldn't expect him to have. While not an expert combatant, he could hold his own if fisticuffs were called for. Edmund dresses in the finest suits of the day and he tends to prefer browns or grays to black. He is often seen wearing a hat and he always carries a cane/walking stick with him. The stick is a shaft of polished wood with a polished blue stone set into the top. The inside of the stone swirls with what looks almost like smoke or clouds. The cane itself has a number of supernatural powers, all of which are known only to Edmund. Edmund is astute and distinguished. Something of an Alfred Pennyworth, I suppose.

Beauregard Cash - Cash is shorter, burly. He has a big beard in accordance to men's fashion at the time. His clothing is shabby, the clothing of a worker or bushman. He cares little for fashon and is often found messy and unwashed. While he is human, I suppose his appearance is not unlike that of a dwarf. He's not that short, obviously, but you get the picture. Cash can always be seen with various papers, layouts for his designs. He is also often wearing one of his newer designs, all the time testing them out. Cash has a special pair of brass goggles that do...I don't know yet, but they do a lot of cool stuff. They are one of his first inventions using supernatural energies.

Jack Reed - Jack Reed is a giant of a man. He stands about 6'6 inches tall and is cut from straight obsidian. He is black, muscular and an intimidating sight for almost all white men he encounters. Jack wears adventure gear of the day in a sort of makeshift soldier's uniform. He wears a .44 calibre Colt pistol on his hip that was issued to him during the war. He also wears a second ammunition belt slung over the gunbelt and a double bandolier with shotgun and rifle amunition over his chest. He carries a Winchester rifle and a shotgun as well as the pistol and the rest of his gear. Jack also carries the ghost catching contraption, but only when they are hunting ghosts. Otherwise it resides with the rest of the gear being carried by the pack animals. Speaking of animals, Jack is also very good with animals. His love for animals is in contrast to his frightening visage. When Jack isn't being threatened he really is a very gentle, very sweet man.

Magdalena Deschamps - Magdalena Deschamps, or "Lena" to those who know her well, is a vibrant and enigmatic woman. She has an outfit for every occasion. The best possible example of what she looks like in my head is Monica Belucci in Brotherhood of the Wolf. Toward the end of the movie she is in her "Vatican Spy" outfit and it's pretty awesome. It's not entirely period accurate, but it should give you some idea of what she looks like. Lena has long dark hair that she often wears up, under some sort of hat. She has the look of a very proper woman but she's not afraid to go toe to toe with the men in a fight or a drinking contest. She is strong, smart and opinionated. Her features are dark and exotic.

Copyright © 2009 Geoffrey Brett Williams. All Rights Reserved

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