The classic team role-playing game of conspiracy and strangeness
UNEXPLAINED doesn't have a rulebook as such, but this page will give you all you need to know to get started in the game.
UNEXPLAINED is a new PBM concept combining elements of round-the-table role-playing with the structures of traditional postal RPG.
In it six players take the roles of characters investigating a mysterious occurrence. The characters are all operatives of SITU, the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained. An adventuring party plays through a particular story together (which takes 12 turns with typically a fortnight between each), and its survivors (if any) remain with SITU to take part in further investigations if they so wish, maybe with the same colleagues, maybe with new ones.
The Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained is an organisation shrouded in mystery. As newly-recruited operatives, player characters know little about it. Most have responded to an advertisement the Society placed in a wide range of print media throughout 1996-7. SITU is based in the Republic of Nauru, a small island in the Pacific, but it organizes locally: the UK branch is currently the most active, and produces an irregular newsletter called SITUation Report.
A character's Illumination is a measure of the extent to which they have become acquainted with the true mysteries of existence. Most mundane folk have an Illumination of 0. All player characters start the game with Illumination 1, as they have only recently become cognizant of the UNEXPLAINED. In general each investigation successfully (or otherwise) completed will raise the character's Illumination level by 1. As characters gain in Illumination they also rise in the councils of SITU, becoming increasingly privy to its secrets and eventually reaching the policy-shaping level and perhaps even commissioning adventuring parties themselves. This continuity between adventures is one of the game's most important features.
The game system of UNEXPLAINED is simple and aimed towards easy character identification and smooth role-playing. It is dramatic rather than deterministic, and players should expect to have less control over the story than they may be accustomed to from traditional PBM RPGs.
The game is set in the present-day 'real' world, with the exception that to those who look it's apparent that strange and inexplicable events are going on all around them (well, OK, this may be true in the 'really real' world as well, it's not for us to say!) Characters can come from any background or setting, although they should be able to communicate fluently in English.
When you've designed your character and sent it in to us, there'll probably be a wait while the game fills up – because we need six characters to start a game.As soon as we have the six, you'll be sent the names, addresses and emails if provided (but not phone numbers) of your five colleagues, together with a briefing pack and your first turn. The game will then progress through 12 fortnightly turns, ending in a debrief from SITU.
NOTE: most games of UNEXPLAINED are designed to be played by parties of characters who cooperate constructively with each other to resolve the investigation. If you would prefer to play in a game in which characters will not necessarily cooperate with each other but instead may compete or conflict, say so on your startup, and we'll put you into a game with other like-minded souls. Be warned that these games usually take longer to fill than ordinary ones, depending on the sort of mix we get.
The Flying Squad
As part of its roster of operatives, SITU maintains a Flying Squad. This is made up of operatives who, because of their resourcefulness, adaptability, or particular skills, are suitable to send out to add to an already ongoing investigation – often when one of the initial group of operatives sent has been lost to the mission in some way. If you would like your character to be considered for joining the Flying Squad, make a note to that effect on your character sheet.
In general only those players who already have some experience of UNEXPLAINED will be considered for membership of the Flying Squad.
Respecting other players
This doesn't really need saying, but UNEXPLAINED is a game where you will be thrown closely into contact with other players. Please ensure that you don't do anything to offend or upset them – in particular, please try and avoid sexist, racist, abusive etc behaviour. We will act firmly against players whose behaviour lessens the enjoyment of others.
Note that SITU is not based on any real-world organization or body; nor is it intended to bear any resemblance to any such. In particular it is specifically not related to the real-world Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained, which we didn't know existed when we were designing the game... oh well. Furthermore, none of the persons described or named in this rulebook or in the game of UNEXPLAINED are to be taken to bear any relationship to any persons alive, dead, undead or in indeterminate states of being.
What is PBM?
If you're new to the postal gaming hobby, start here... PBM games are different from normal role-playing in that:
- instead of the players all sitting round a table or whatever, they're located all over the world;
- instead of them all talking at once about what their characters are going to do, they write it down and send it in to the GM;
- instead of responding immediately, they have (in the case of UNEXPLAINED) a fortnight to talk to each other between submitting actions.
UNEXPLAINED costs GBP 3.00 per turn. A startup, which includes setup and the first three turns, costs GBP 10.00. You can pay for a whole game of 12 turns, including setup, in advance if you like, and that costs GBP 35.00. If you wish to pay in a currency other than GBP, you may do so, but we will have to pass any conversion costs on to you.You should make cheques payable to Undying King Games.
Undying King Games
You can play all our games by post or by email, as you prefer. These are the addresses:
Undying King Games
57 London Road
(cheques payable to Undying King Games)
UNEXPLAINED was designed by Wendy Prosser and Mo Holkar. Thanks also to the gallant playtesters: Melanie Dymond Harper, Graham Harper, Ralph Lovegrove, Mike Richardson and Chris Williamson, and to the inestimable writers and GMs, Frances H, Reuben Wright, Jon Walgate, Claire Fayers, Mia Hart-Allison and Toby Wright.
UNEXPLAINED © Dr Wendy Anne Prosser and Undying King Games 1996, 1997
Every character has seven Characteristics; Strength, Dexterity, Presence, Fortitude, Perception, Will and Luck. These should be ranked in order of significance to the character from 1 (least significant) to 7 (most significant).
Characters who rank this highly will be capable of great physical force. This may be because of intensive training, or a fortunate accident of physiology: in any case they can be expected to excel at tasks demanding strength and release of power.
The Dextrous character is agile, well-balanced, quick to react and accurate to aim. This should be a significant characteristic for most athletic types. These characters will also be more capable of fiddly or delicate tasks than the norm.
Charisma, attractiveness, poise, command: call it what you will, some people have a quality about them which compels favourable reaction. A character of Presence will find it easier to excite sympathy, persuade, exact obedience, and sway the susceptible.
The ability to endure: to run great distances, swim underwater, bear up under severe wounds, go with little sleep, basically to keep going when others falter: these mark out the character to whom Fortitude is significant.
Perception is the ability to notice, to filter, to correlate and to reach swift conclusions. A character to whom Perception is significant will generally make more of their surroundings than others: they will pick up faint noises, flashes of movement and odd smells, and will quickly assign a pattern to them.
Will is an indicator of mental fortitude. This includes courage, firmness of gaze, confidence, equanimity: the character to whom Will is significant can expect to be less easily shaken by the disturbing nature of the Unexplained.
The most mysterious of the characteristics. Some people are just born lucky: the falling bucket always misses them, the bread lands butter-side-up, the lights change just in time. On the other hand, in the context of the Unexplained, what at first appears to be good fortune may bear a claw within its glove...
You should list your character's seven Characteristics in order downwards, from 7 to 1, for example:
|Fortitude 7||Will 6||Dexterity 5||Luck 4||Presence 3||Perception 2||Strength 1|
Remember you must assign the numbers from 1 to 7 exactly once each: use none of them more than once, and don't miss any out.
At the last Section meeting you requested this department prepare a summary of new recruits' motivations, to help with the Sympathetic Debriefing programme. I hope the following is of use: it presents the coding system used by this department.
We find that our operatives can be assigned into seven broad motivation categories. These categories form a spectrum of stability. Of course, many operatives fit into more than one of these simple groupings, but generally one will be prime.
Unstable (Code: Violet)
Curiously enough, many of our most valuable operatives have been mentally unstable. Perhaps a degree of dissociation from normal life allows them a greater insight into what lies behind, or perhaps they are more ready to take risks than the norm. The Unstable type may owe his or her imbalance to a trauma or to a gradual defamiliarisation, but in either case we can generally rely on these operatives to make incisive breakthroughs in understanding the Unexplained (if for little else, in some cases).
Personal (Code: Indigo)
This covers a wide range of motivations. The Personal type can usually trace their interest in the Unexplained to a traumatic incident in either their own life or that of a close friend or family member. The operative is often seeking vengeance for some real or imagined wrong.
Greedy (Code: Blue)
Some of our operatives have joined SITU for purely selfish reasons. They seek power, wealth or influence, and hope to find it by investigating the UNEXPLAINED. Provided that these operatives are carefully supervised we have not found those with this motivation a problem. They often make excellent tools for SITU.
Truth-seeker (Code: Green)
This can be a person from any walk of life who has somehow become aware that the world is not as it seems, and who is seized by a desire to find out its real structure. Their quest is much less focused than that of the Academic, but also much less cautious.
Academic (Code: Yellow)
A researcher whose quest for knowledge has run up against the Unexplained. Perhaps a historian or a sociologist: perhaps a journalist: perhaps an occultist. The thirst for information drives these operatives onwards and they tend to be the most useful to our purpose of pushing back the boundaries of understanding.
Professional (Code: Orange)
This covers those who investigate the Unexplained on behalf of others: be it for clients or for employers, the Professional type is basically paid to investigate rather than doing it for any more personal reason.
Joiner / Unmotivated (Code: Red)
Some operatives seem to drift into SITU for no particular reason. Maybe they were just short of something to do on a Tuesday night. These people are sometimes reluctant to make the sacrifices that investigation of the Unexplained may demand. They often have a rather clearer and more detached view of such affairs than the other types, though.
I hope this brief summary provides you with sufficient information. If you require expansion, contact this office.
MH / REC / 153
What draws a character into the arms of SITU? See the above internal memo for details.
You should choose one or more of the seven Motivations as being of importance for your character. NB: some don't combine very well. Rank them in order of importance from 7 downwards, leaving at zero any that you feel play no part at all in your character's Motivation.
Just list the Motivations which are applicable to your character, for example:
|Indigo 7||Green 5||Violet 4|
We also need to know some further details about your character. These are as follows:
Any plausible name is acceptable. Try not to choose anything too silly-sounding. Indicate gender if it's not obvious.
How does the character usually earn his or her living? Bear in mind that, as your character is a SITU operative, his or her occupation must be such as to permit occasional absences of up to several days.
Nationality / residence
Of what country is the character a national? Where is he or she resident (be as precise as you like)?
Any adult age within reason, but try to make it tie in with the Characteristics.
Be as detailed as you like here: height, weight, hair colour, eye colour, skin colour, hat size, usual garb, distinguishing marks, favourite perfume, contents of pockets, whatever: anything that will help give a clear image of your character's appearance.
This is a bit of a vague area that covers the character's current situation. Is he / she happy, depressed, looking for excitement, trying to evade pursuit, on a diet, hard up, diabetic, engaged to be married...? Put in anything you like that helps bring the character to life.
Background relevant to motivation
Why has your character become a SITU operative? Was his / her sister abducted by aliens as a child? Have law enforcement agencies tried to hush him / her up? Has a colleague recently dies in mysterious circumstances, leaving a puzzling set of notes? Was he / she looking for something to do on a Tuesday night? This should be closely tied in with the primary Motivation(s) you have chosen for the character. Don't worry too much about whether your ideas will fit into the UNEXPLAINED campaign world: they definitely will, one way or another ;-) And they might provide the basis for future investigations, if they pique SITU's interest.
Any other background information you think might be interesting or relevant: family details, names of pets, how many sugars in coffee, follows Italian football, once went camping in the Peak District... anything at all. Don't try to be too exhaustive right now, as you can add to these details at any point during the course of the game. What we'll do is occasionally work material from here into the Mystery, but generally just for flavour rather than anything particularly crucial.
This covers behaviour and mannerisms. Does your character fidget, interrupt, sit down whenever possible, dislike other people driving, hold doors open for people, pick up change in the street, read library books, smoke, call older men 'sir' and women 'madam', eat Polos...? Anything at all.
How other people see you
This may be a bit more tricky. What sort of first impression would other people form of your character? Here you should be fairly concise: keep it to a few stereotypical words, like 'flashy, self-conscious, boorish, obsessional', 'quiet, shy, modest, plain, victim', 'affable, dependable, sturdy, charming'. Bear in mind that, while these may not bear very much relation to what the character is 'really' like, you'll have to role-play him / her in such a way as to convey both sets of traits, so don't make life too difficult for yourself.
The way the game works is by correlating your turnsheet with those of the other players and producing a communal narrative. So much of the time you will be operating together, pooling information and generally cooperating to achieve the investigation's ends. You may occasionally have things you want your character to do without the others knowing, and the results of these will be reported to you privately. In general, though, the story you get back will be the same as that of the other players, and will move from viewpoint to viewpoint according to where the action is currently taking place.
In a game like this it's often difficult to judge how much to write: how far ahead to try and determine your character's actions. In practice it really depends upon the state of the game. At the beginning a turn might cover a long period of internal time: a week's research in a library, three nights' staking out an address, an uneventful voyage. When the action is coming thick and fast, though, one turn might only cover one extended combat or other action sequence, if it's pivotal to the Mystery. If you basically respond to what you know or what's available to you, you won't go too far wrong: it'll come with experience.
Your turn should be broken down into four sections, as follows. It will be a great help to us if you can try and keep to these. Of course, in some cases the boundaries between them will blur. Write as much or as little as you like, but it's better not to try and order too far in the future: the world may be a different place by then (at least from your character's point of view).
One thing that helps bring characters to life quickly is to put a lot of dialogue into your turns. Don't just say 'I talk to Mr Miggs', say 'I talk to Mr Miggs about the weather, the price of fish, and has he seen anything of interest lately'. Even better, write your character's exact words: 'I say "Morning Miggsy me old mate, how's the dahlias doing?"'. This will save us having to put words into your character's mouth with which you may not be happy, and it will add to the other players' enjoyment.
This should say what your character does in the immediate situation he / she is in at the end of the previous turn. 'I drop the thug on the right and rush over to tend to Henry's wounds'. 'I grab the Malleus Maleficarum off the shelf and look for the Casting Out spell'. 'As Chalmers leaves the club I follow her home, photograph her house and make a note of her address'.
Your contribution to what you think the party as a whole should be doing. Include suggestions for other characters' actions. 'We should finish off this combat and then search the warehouse thoroughly: Adrian should try and get the safe open, Rachel should stand guard out by the gates. After that we need to get out as quickly and quietly as possible - Rachel had better drive, as my shoulder's still bad.'
What you want your character to do during the remainder of the coming turn. 'If we found any documents in the safe I'll dust them for fingerprints when we're back at the flat, and compare them with the ones we found at Wittcoff's apartment. When I get a chance I'll go in to the university and have the green liquid analysed. In the meantime I'll thoroughly read Wittcoff's journal, particularly the passages about his work with Protex, and try and work out who his main contacts there were.'
Things you want your character to do without the rest of the party noticing - the results of these will be reported to you privately. They should be kept to a minimum, as after all this is supposed to be a cooperative party. Any operative who was too secretive would have been weeded out by SITU before ever being sent out on a mission. Remember, too, that there has to be some plausible way in which you can conceal these actions from your fellows, which may be difficult in some situations. Even if you write an action as secret, if it is witnessed it will go into the general turn. We assume that any actions not written in this section can freely be shared with the rest of the party.
Example set of orders
This is an example of the sort of orders we expect from you for your character. This one is taken from the middle of a real game, when lots of things were under way. You may prefer to write less, or more, than this: we're happy to accommodate you, but this is the average: about a side.
Claude will, his hands displayed openly and with a calm, easy smile, say to Jock 'Now, now, Mr Drummond, there's no need to get all worked up over a misunderstanding like this. Won't you join me in a drink, and we can clear it up man to man?' (He will add 'and have one for your sheep as well' if he judges it sensible to do so).
After Sid has set up the beers Claude will explain: 'Now, Mr Drummond, get that down your neck and listen to me a moment. The fact of the matter is, I was hoping to meet with your lady wife to gain the benefits of her thoughts on the administration of a small island postal and telephone network.' If Jock demands to know why the message was so secretive and the meeting had to be in confidence, Claude will elaborate further: 'I know that Mrs Drummond's job is a highly sensitive one - after all, she has the confidential dealings of all Clachantyre passing through her hands, you could say. She's in a position of great trust, isn't she? So I guessed she'd prefer us to be discreet about the whole thing: she wouldn't want everyone on the island to know we were interviewing her, now would she?' If pressed on the logical inconsistency in this series of statements, Claude will smoothly add 'of course, her face would be pixellated out when it was broadcast... if she wanted it that way.' As a clincher he will throw in 'And, of course, she'd be handsomely compensated for our demands on her time.'
With any luck Jock will be pacified and soothed by this, and the hasty application of another pint of beer. After the situation has been resolved, he will explain the situation to the rest of the party when alone with them: 'Ha, my little ruse seems to have misfired - oh well! I was trying to smoke our dear postmistress out into the open: have to think of another plan now, I suppose!'
I guess Claude will have lost the initiative in his conversation with Cameron thanks to this interruption. And just when it was getting interesting! Ah well, probably better not persist now the mood is broken, unless Cameron seems in eager-to-talk mode, but if a similar opportunity arises at a later point Claude will attempt subtly to recreate this productive camaraderie.
Anyone who can should go to visit the Doonies at Hawkcraig House: generally chat to whoever's there, in Acorn Productions mode, and see what we can see.
We should search the headland as John suggested, abseiling down from the top of the cliff if need be.
Cameron mentioned 'dancing round the Old Man and singing out to sea'. Do Liz or Grace (or anyone else) have any ideas as to what sort of mystical doo-dah this might signify?
'Given my faux pas vis a vis Mrs Drummond, it might be an idea if one of you lot asked him about the Doonies' strange rituals - like Cameron Fraser was saying.'
If Liz is getting paranoid about her airline being slashed, Claude will comfortingly say that 'Not to worry, love: it was probably done at random, not aimed at you. It might have been any of us!' If suspicious fingers are pointed at the old skipper, he will say 'Well, he's a sailor, isn't he? Of course he carries a knife. If he really did slash the airline, he's a good actor. On the other hand, if he didn't, he can't have checked the gear very carefully, which isn't too reassuring...'
We need to go back down to that mysterious grille in the cave, this time armed with tools to remove it and penetrate further in. Claude is determined to get to the source of the glow. He will enlist Murdo's aid again, if possible. How recent did the grille look?
He will show the runes he found to the rest of the party. 'Any of you make anything of these?'
He will also show them the letter from the HIDA to Clive Stokes, and invite them to suggest what it might import.
Claude is a bit reluctant to search Murdo's house, but he will go along with John's suggestion if someone else of the party will go diving with Murdo and remove the grille etc. Claude will search his house in as unnoticeable a way as possible. Look for anything at all of interest, and report anything found to the party.
Probably better not try anything this time!
If Mrs Drummond does turn up for the assignation... Claude will be very surprised... but will play it by ear.
Access: Illumination 3+
Property of Personnel Dept
GKL / OPE / 477 / 96
Sample SITU Operative: Elizabeth Foster (#BG/74)
Strength 1 Feeble
Dexterity 2 Tends to do everything slowly and carefully to compensate
Presence 6 Manipulative
Fortitude 3 Looks frail, but is usually in good health
Perception 4 Average, but better with people
Willpower 7 Determined
Luck 5 Survivor (despite herself)
Liz enjoys projecting an image of being a cool sophisticate, in possession of immense occult knowledge and has become something of an expert at using this image to manipulate other people. Unfortunately for her she has actually started to believe it. For Liz, SITU is something of an ego trip (although she will never, never admit it).
5) Truth seeker
She does have some genuine interest in the occult. She believes this is her main motivation and will give it when applying.
As a child, Liz grew up in a haunted house and befriended the ghost of a Victorian child called Claudia who drowned in the pond. Whether this is real or evidence of Liz's mental instability is up to the GM.
Liz also has a self-destructive streak, and this may propel her forwards towards horrors others might rather avoid.
None - receives erratic gifts of money from her parents but often has to survive according to the generosity of others.
English - from Tamwich, Devon
5 feet 2 inches tall. Very dark hair and dark eyes, pale complexion. Frail, childlike. Both men and women often feel protective towards her.
Loner. Expensive boarding school. Poor at sports and didn't fit in. Only scored moderate GCSE grades due to lack of interest. Fascinated by the occult from an early age, she has read extensively but not necessarily selectively (especially about Wicca and hermetic magic). She has also been in correspondence with a number of European occultists over a long period of time and will have several significant contacts.
Vegetarian but has been known to drink blood (partly for the shock value, partly because she likes the taste).
Dresses in black (Gothic because she looks good in it), but tends to prefer heavy metal music rather than Gothic.
Sample SITU Operative: Claude Hackett (#O/6)
Hackney, London E11
Claude is 5'5" tall and weighs around 10 stone. He is in poor physical fitness and has bad circulation in his hands and feet. He habitually walks with a slight stoop. He tends to wear a battered old brown woollen overcoat, rain or shine: his slightly balding head is often covered with a tatty fedora. His hair is sandy brown and his eyes deep and brown. His features are thin and inquisitive-looking, and his hands have 'scientist's knuckles'. His teeth are stained from smoking. When he smiles his gums show slightly in a manner not terribly pleasant to behold.
Claude is reasonably successful in his business. He is self-employed, can afford to run a car (a 5-year old Sierra 1.6) and has a three-bedroomed house at the end of a 1920s terrace. He lives alone: he has had a series of short relationships with various unsuitable women but is too much of a loner to share his life with anyone. He has a younger brother, Michael, who lives nearby and is married with a daughter of four: he sees quite a lot of them and does babysitting when he can.
Over the past two years Claude has had a great deal of business from a Canterbury solicitor named Mary Willings. At first he believed he was being commissioned to act on behalf of divorcing clients of hers, but now suspects this story. She has had him watching various locations in Canterbury and the nearby towns - mostly churches, including the Cathedral, but also hotels, business premises and residences. The jobs have always been for one night only, and he has been asked simply to observe and describe everyone he sees enter and leave. All nights have been near to the full of the moon. About six months ago he was watching a church in Tonbridge, as normal, and became 'aware' of the presence of a person nearby. He could see and hear no-one, but all the same he was certain that someone - an old woman? - was standing near to him. After an hour the presence disappeared. Successive months have seen similar experiences. One time he was conscious of a terrible smell of rotting meat with no obvious source: another he was sure he heard the howling of wolves.
He has not reported any of these events to Mary Willings, as he is by now suspicious of her. He has never seen anything on the assignments that has obvious been related to adulterous activity, as he would have expected had they been genuine: there have often been a number of people mentioned on his report, but no case relating to them has ever come to court (he would have been summoned as a witness if one had).
He wrote off to SITU in the hope that membership might help him shed more light on these curious occurrences, which have disturbed him greatly.
Claude's parents are both in their mid-fifties and live near Colchester. He is a reasonably dutiful son and sees them every couple of months. They always wonder why he hasn't settled down.
He is a generous and thoughtful man and enjoys giving unexpected presents. He is a member of a local chess club and most of his friends are from there: he is one of the less strong players, but still pretty good.
He has not taken a holiday from his work for some years. He used to occasionally go to festivals with his brother, but since Christie's birth that has fallen away.
He went to school at Hackney Downs and was deeply shocked to hear of its closure by the Inspectorate. Although he got reasonable A-levels he was never interested in going to university and instead went straight into work, drifting through a series of office jobs before finding PI employment ten years ago. He left to set up his own practice in 1992. He has been fortunate enough never to have been unemployed. He works alone in a small rented walk-up office above a newsagent's.
Claude is a bit of a perfectionist and always makes tidy and meticulous notes in small, neat handwriting, using different-coloured pens. His files are a model of efficiency and detail. His work might be thought to have given him an insight into human nature, but this is not really the case: he rarely engages emotionally. He is warm and friendly to those he trusts, and smiles easily. He does his own car maintenance and is quite a handyman. He is a great fan of film noir and has an impressive video collection. He reads little, mostly from the library and mostly thrillers. He is also a keen photographer, with some talent.
How is he seen
Although Claude is not terribly prepossessing, most people like him when they get to know him. He is amusing company, and it is clear that he is basically a 'nice' person.
Sample SITU Operative: Kristina Macdowell(#IG/54)
Librarian, Imperial College (part-time)
Kristina is fairly tall (5'8") and slightly built. Her long dark hair is typically tied back in a ponytail, showing no sign of grey as yet; her eyes are light green, though she generally wears glasses as she is slightly short-sighted. She walks with a slight limp but does not use a stick. She typically wears clothes as casual as she can get away with for any given occasion, and always wears trousers - she is never seen in a skirt or dress (because her legs are badly scarred, see below).
Generally, unless a particular occasion dictates otherwise, she will wear a baggy jumper and jeans, or a baggy T-shirt and jeans (depending on the season). She usually carries a small rucksack in lieu of a handbag, in which she carries the usual sort of paraphernalia along with a largish folding knife, a small fire-extinguisher (the sort one might more usually find in a car boot) and a medium-sized Maglite torch. She also generally has a sketch-pad and a few pencils to hand.
Kristina was married at 26, and both widowed and orphaned at 28. A major pileup on the M25 wrecked the car being driven by Kristina's husband, Charlie, and also – unknown to them – her parents' car, which was travelling in the other direction. Both parents were killed instantly, Charlie died in hospital; Kris survived, although both legs were badly broken and she still walks with a limp. The insurance payouts for her own injuries and the loss of her relatives have left Kris a relatively wealthy woman. She lives simply in a two-bedroom flat in Wandsworth, which she owns, and has invested enough money to allow her to live in relative comfort, even discounting the (fairly small) income from her job at Imperial College. (Before the accident she worked there full-time.) She has no current romantic involvement, although she is still in contact with three ex-lovers: Alan Junor, now 34 and working as a technical support person at one of London's major Internet providers (she met him while she was training as a librarian and he was working at her college), Sophie Chanderpaul, a student at IC currently in her final year, and Axel Mornar, a friend of Charlie's with whom she had a brief fling before settling down with Charlie.
Background Relevant to Motivation
Although Kris was not particularly close to her parents, their sudden loss, along with that of her husband, has scarred her deeply. She had previously had a fairly calm and peaceful life. Before the crash she was nominally religious, in that she went to church at Christmas, Easter and occasionally at other times. She has now lost her faith altogether, and in fact has become very anti-Christian. (She has one criminal conviction, for assault; she was fined and bound over to keep the peace after she punched a nun who told her that the loss of her family "had been God's will".) She still believes that there is Something out there, but that that Something is actively malevolent, rather than benign.
Kris saw a psychiatrist for a few sessions after leaving hospital. She did not feel that it did her any good. She has paranoid tendencies, although they do not tend to manifest except when she is under extreme stress.
In her spare time, Kris paints (adequately, if unspectacularly), sketches (somewhat better than she paints), writes poems which she would not dream of showing to anyone else, and has had one short story published. She rarely goes out socially, preferring to stay at home and listen to music – either baroque or extremely heavy metal, very little in between, and always very loud. (Her neighbours are not too impressed.) She is something of a homebody, and does not deal well with long-distance travel (gets very stressed). She has managed to get over her fear of travelling by car, although she prefers to drive whenever possible. She is quite claustrophobic; she was trapped in the car after the crash. The knife, fire extinguisher and Maglite are an attempt to be sure that she can get out if she finds herself in such a situation again. (Yes, it does make her bag quite heavy.) Kris rarely, if ever, raises her voice. Although she does not generally use English profanity, she has been known to mutter smatterings of other tongues which, if anyone cared to look them up, are usually quite obscene.
How Other People See Her
Kris is often mistaken for a postgraduate, sometimes an undergraduate, as she looks some years younger than she is. Most people see her as shy and fairly quiet, except for those who have done something profoundly stupid – she tends to take off her glasses and look them straight in the eye, which they find unnerving. (Hence the high Presence score. Once glared, rarely forgotten.)
Most of the students (except Sophie, see above, and anyone who has had to deal with the Macdowell Glare) and some of the library staff see her as part of the furniture. Her neighbours, as mentioned, have had to ask her to turn her music down several times a year, and as such are not especially friendly towards her.
Sample SITU Operative: Grace Ndofir(#YG/22)
Reader in Anthropology, Universities of Surrey & Nairobi
Kenyan, with a British passport
6 months Guildford / 6 months Nairobi
Short and slight, Grace is very straight and has an almost military bearing. She has short grey hair and dark skin. Tends to dress in old-fashioned and drab coloured Western style clothing. When walking any distance, she will typically take her carved wooden walking stick. A fairly large shoulder bag contains various essentials (and a bewildering array of junk). She can at least always be relied upon to carry several pens, a couple of notebooks, her reading glasses and a choice of a number of pieces of reading material.
Grace's current situation is much the same as it has been for a number of years. Mainly working in one or other university, she is involved in less field work than in her younger days. She has few interests outside her work and few close friends (partly because of her dual location). She has family in Kenya, none in the UK. She speaks fluent French as well as English and the language of her family. She has no interest in physical activities, except the occasional brisk walk in the country.
Grace is not married and has no romantic entanglements - she is a confirmed spinster. She lives comfortably on her salary as she has quite simple tastes. She rents a small two-bedroomed house in Guildford and owns a slightly larger one in Nairobi. She does not typically take holidays, unless one counts the occasional field trip.
Background Relevant to Motivation
Having worked in Anthropology for a number of years, she has been exposed to many sets of beliefs and legends, both written and oral. She has identified common themes that cannot be explained by current scientific theories and thinks, perhaps, that answers or clues could be found within areas an organization such as SITU will investigate (or has already investigated). Grace is not particularly interested in peer or public recognition of her work and prefers to be allowed to get on quietly with what she likes to do.
Grace has observed many different cultures, but from an analytical and external viewpoint. This attitude pervades everything she does and has not encouraged friendship or romance. As a result she has become very self-reliant and reluctant to be involved in 'personal' discussions. People often find it quite hard to guess her background.
She has written a couple of books (neither currently in print or well-known) and many papers. Her writing style is very precise and detailed and has an instant soporific effect, even on colleagues in the same field.
Grace's closest social acquaintance in the UK is Marjory Dennington, who is also her GP and an ex-pat Kenyan. In Nairobi, Grace mostly socializes with her extended family.
Grace is quite a serious person, dedicated to her work and hence is often quite detached. She can be quite animated, however, when a subject interests her or when discussing her own work. She does not react angrily or abrasively to people she dislikes (foolish, arrogant or loud people, typically) but is as distant as politeness allows.
Grace dislikes loose ends and will always attempt to clear up all the details of a problem before moving on, if possible. She is a great believer in taking notes - although she also has a good memory.
She has few personal habits and is adept from long practice at sitting still and listening to others talk. She uses very little body language when speaking (except when agitated) a result of contact with many cultures.
How Other People See Her
Withdrawn, serious, no sense of humour, polite, self-assured, physically drab and unremarkable, quiet, mid-fifties
Sample SITU Operative: Terence Slater (#RI/44)
Strength 2 (Fairly weak, owing to past drug habits)
Dexterity 5 (Some expertise in B & E and petty theft)
Presence 1 (Quiet)
Fortitude 3 (Not particularly fit, owing to lifestyle)
Perception 6 (Notices unusual goings-on...)
Will 4 (Slightly more strong-willed than his peers, capturing the interest of SITU)
Luck 7 (He's bloody lucky)
Joiner (Red, 6); Personal (Indigo, 5)
5'8", 9 stone approx; Caucasian, short brown hair and hazel eyes. Face is thin and hollow-looking, although he is starting to look more healthy as a result of being few properly. Dresses in jeans or combat trousers with an olive-green army parka and boots. His light frame is emphasised by the baggy clothes he wears, making him look quite small and puny. Row of needle marks along his left forearm.
Quiet, fidgets occasionally, chews gum, speaks with hand over mouth and mumbles, making it difficult to understand what he's saying sometimes. Self-conscious and tries to keep his arms covered.
When he was 16, Terence did drugs with his friends in East London. At first he tried cannabis, followed by speed and LSD, E and, later in life, heroin. This led to poor results in school, and he dropped out of his A-levels, after consistent decline in his results.
During this time, Terence only really cared about his social life, which was one long extended weekend. His habits changed from weekend abuse to drug-taking on a daily basis, although at this point he was only psychologically addicted. He gained a talent for stealing cars, breaking and entering, and petty theft from shops, in order to buy drugs.
His life changed radically on July 23rd, 1994, at an illegal rave. Exact memories of the events are hazy, but the drug of choice for the evening was a combination of Ecstasy and LSD, which he and his friends took. As it happened, he took the drugs he had brought with him (only enough for one dose), while his friends scored theirs from dealers on site (incidentally, all the acid tabs were marked with the I Ching hexagram #23). Later in the evening, one by one all of his friends complained of headaches. Through the drug-induced haze he could see odd, ethereal figures moving among the crowd. His friends had become very subdued and quiet, but it wasn't until his closest friend, Jack, keeled over that he realised that something was wrong. In the end, Jack was taken away by ambulance but died from a mystery allergic reaction. At the time, Terence was too stoned to grieve, but later he felt awful. Strangely enough, none of his friends seemed to care - about anything. In fact, none of them could remember Jack.
That was the turning-point, where Terence left his friends for good, along with his family and old life. He came down 'somewhere in a field in Hampshire, all right'. He started to sleep on the streets, and began begging. He made it back to London, where he touched upon the drug scene once more. At this time, he met some people who started him on injecting heroin, and subsequently stealing in order to buy more.
SITU operatives investigating the drug trade in London found Terence by chance. It came to their attention that he was a survivor of the rave on the 23rd of July 94, and so was of some interest. They took care of him, providing him with a bed in a hostel and a place on a drug rehabilitation programme. One month ago, he was invited to join, and having no other life he agreed.
Sample SITU Operative: Tom Swindlehurst(#BR/10)
Tom is 5'11'' tall and well-built. He was fairly active when younger, but in the last few years (since his main form of exercise became the five-minute walk down to his local) he has started to put on weight. His dark brown hair is still thick but greying, and he has to wear glasses for reading now - which he hates.
Despite this, Tom always tries to look his best. It could be said that sometimes the clothes he wears would look better on a man half his age (perhaps he is trying to compensate for his thickening waistline, grey hair and failing eyesight), but nevertheless he is always smart and neatly dressed.
Tom has been a member of the Merseyside Constabulary all his working life, as were his father and grandfather before him. Without that family tradition, Tom would probably have chosen a different career, for his chief aim in life is to make as much money as possible with the minimum of effort and plenty of time to enjoy it in. And in all his years as a police officer, though, he has never managed to rise above the rank of Sergeant - opportunities for promotion always seem to pass him by. Since his father and grandfather both retired as Superintendents, this rankles.
Background relevant to motivation
Some time ago, Tom's disillusionment became so great that he decided that whether you get on in life depends, not on talent (or even luck) but on who you know. Accordingly, he tried to join his local Freemasons' Lodge - and had his application turned down without a word of explanation. Tom was mystified and angry about this, and convinced that someone turned the Lodge members against him - though he has no idea who, or why.
When Tom heard about SITU through a Freemason colleague, he decided that, if the Lodge wouldn't have him, maybe this new organization would. He was delighted to join, and is quite convinced that there must be important and influential people (Chief Constables, no doubt) somewhere in the ranks of SITU. It can only be a matter of time before they notice him and give him the career break he craves...
Tom has been married for 30 years to Maggie, and together they live in a comfortable, unremarkable semi in Higher Bebington. They have one child, David, who is a teacher with a wife and two small girls of his own; he lives in Manchester, but makes frequent visits to see his parents. This pleases Maggie a lot (se loves to see the grandkids) and Tom less so (they make such a mess).
Tom is slightly disappointed that David did not join the Police, but he feels closer to his son now than he did when David was a boy. He determinedly left the child-rearing to Maggie (he did try to encourage her to return to her well-paid job as a personal assistant after David started school, though, but she flatly refused - "Women, eh! When you try to give them their independence, they want you to behave like a caveman!")
Tom's favourite pastime is drinking in his local pub, the Cross Keys. He is a well-known face there, and a very enthusiastic participant in the pub's darts, pool and tug-of-war teams (though his teams seldom do well; in fact, they do so badly that he has earned the nickname 'Jonah Swindlehurst'). There is quite a tradition of tug-of-war in the Swindlehurst family: Tom's grandfather actually won an Olympic silver medal in the event back in 1908 (he has often taken out the medal, cleaned it carefully and wondered how much it might be worth).
Tom's other love is an old racehorse called Blue Max, which he and five other Cross Keys regulars bought three years ago with the wild hope of making a fortune. Typically, Maxie came last in half his races and failed to start in the rest. But when the rest of the syndicate decided to cut their losses and sell him to a glue factory, Tom bought them out and took it upon himself to care for the nag on a stretch of waste ground near his home. When the pressures of home and work get too much, Tom likes nothing better than to pay Maxie a visit and enjoy the peace and quiet.
How other people see him
Tom is friendly and out-going, good company, and always willing to help in a crisis. He has exceptionally good manners, and always holds the door open for ladies. He is unfailingly neat and tidy in appearance, and is very strict about punctuality. He can seem a little miserly with money, but he never shirks buying his round at the pub.