Posts Tagged ‘Phillip Brooks’

Gaming Chronicles: PlanetFall

April 7, 2018

(When last we spoke, we talked about the very first campaign I took part in The Frozen Star Among Us. Today I will be continuing the series chronicling the games I have taken part in so that I can remember them.)

When the Frozen Star ended, I had been playing with the group for months and I had started to figure out the dynamics of this tabletop roleplaying game thing. I felt like I was slowly making friends with the group and I was gaining courage with my choices. When we decided to move to the next campaign, I knew that I had to do better. My earlier characters felt more like cardboard cutouts than actual characters. I looked back at what they were and realized that they barely wanted anything beyond “to save the day”. I needed to reach back to the brief training I had in acting. It would help me focus on what my character wanted at the moment and also overall.

The new campaign was helmed by a different Game Master. This gamemaster had been a player who had previously pushed me to do better in my disastrous first character. I had thought that he did not like me but I now know that I was projecting my fears. But back then I was nervous to start a new campaign with him in charge. This new campaign was another science-fiction story. It was about people who lived on space stations who did not conform to society and were banished to an alien planet as a prison colony. This was immediately an exciting idea. My character would have a life before and after his fall from grace.

I started to try and figure out who I was going to be. I started with how my character fit into the society on the space station which would also shape his role among the other player characters. The background information we had been given had mentioned that the planet was littered with alien technology. I thought I could be useful as a repairman, a guy who worked in an appliance repair shop and fixed things people brought him. This was later shifted to being an engineering worker as our world changed and we reimagined the space station a little bit. So what was the fatal flaw that got my character banished? I knew that he was a good guy. To support his family, he had started to fight in an underground fighting club and he had been arrested when it was raided.

Later, as we played more and I thought about it more, I came up with more of the backstory. He and his sister had been orphaned when their parents died of a drug overdose. He was the only one captured in the raid because he lost the fight and was knocked unconscious. He was deeply troubled by being banished to the planet because his little sister had been left alone on the station. He felt that he had been betrayed by the government that he had respected but he also felt that he belonged down below. All that was left was a name for my character. I decided to name him Phillip Brooks, stealing CM Punk’s real name. This started the trend of me creating characters with pro-wrestlers’ names but this one was the most egregious.

On arrival at the planet, my character teamed with a ragtag group. There was a thief, a computer programmer, a fashion designer, a mad scientist, a religious zealot, and arms dealer. (Later, the arms dealer was replaced by a soldier). Not long after getting to the camp that would be his new home, my character was propositioned by the mad scientist. It was mindless, meaningless sex but it was a comfort in the new situation. Later, on an expedition to explore their surroundings, the group found foreign berries. Before the scientist could taste test them, my big strong character volunteered with the belief that he would survive. The berries were basically a strong narcotic and my character became an addict. Phillip became angry and sullen and eventually, he nearly died. The scientist saved his life, bringing him back from a coma.

The combination of her saving his life and their brief sexual encounter made Phillip want to protect her. That became my character’s prime directive and he often hung around her, making sure she was safe and practically became her pet. He became dedicated to proving that he was actually a good person and that he was not the monster that he had become. He wanted their community to thrive even if he and the rest of them probably did not deserve to do so. Along the way, they fought the planet’s natives who were strange cat people who may have had good reason to fight the new invaders. The group also discovered a race of sentient trees which were later used as part of a water filtration system for the camp.

In the end, Phillip and the party were sent out on a mission to reestablish contact with a mining operation in the mountains. Phillip was starting to feel better about himself and when they arrived, he was pointed toward a busted radio. The radio was the reason that contact had been lost. Given the opportunity to fix something electronic unlocked something in Phillip and for the first time in a long time, he felt happy again. Unfortunately, an explosion went off in the mines where the rest of his party was and we left the campaign on a cliffhanger on whether everybody else survived or not.

This game was my first experience with the FATE system. For those who do not know, the FATE system is an attempt to simplify the usual D20 system of play. Players role four six-sided die with pluses and minuses on them. A failure on a roll would be mostly negative dice and a success would be mostly positive dice. There were also many skills that characters could have. In addition, characters had abilities and character flaws that responded to “fate chips”. These chips were used to help to reroll or alter rolls to succeed where a player might have failed because of a bad roll. It was an interesting system to learn and, so far, it is the system we have used the most in our group.

Game Soundtrack:

The Pretty RecklessHeaven Knows

I still think this is the perfect song to describe the ragtag group that Phillip became a part of. They were a group of criminals and misfits (for the most part) and they probably all deserved the punishment they got. It was best to just own it. It also described Phillip’s guilt at being banished to the prison planet in the first place.

The Pretty RecklessMy Medicine 

I heard this song and I instantly thought of Phillip’s battle with addiction. He thought he was eating some berries that would at worst make him feel ill but ended up an addict like his parents had been. He felt so hopeless.

Avenged SevenfoldBat Country

This was one of my jams during the time that we played this campaign and it just seemed to reflect where Phillip was. “Too many doses and I’m starting to get an attraction”, “My hand is on the trigger”, “Nobody can save me”, and other phrases just seemed to reflect who Phillip was becoming from the addiction. But what really sold me is the quote “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.”

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Sketches in the Dirt

June 20, 2014

I thought it was time for another look into the mind of Phillip Brooks, my character from PlanetFall.  Yet again I have taken liberties with the setting since our RPG group has not outlined a lot of the culture or technology before they were exiled.  This takes place during a week of in-game time that was not role-played at the table since nothing really exciting happened during it.  It is the first real downtime since the characters’ arrival on the strange prison planet.  It takes place not long after a mission which ended up being an especially bloody affair.  As before, characters not written by me are the property of their creators or the creators of PlanetFall itself.

*                     *                        *

Phillip sat between two dwellings across from the medical station, staying quiet and still in the dirt.  There was almost always shade here during most of the day and he was mostly left alone there.  This was where he often stayed when he wasn’t off on whatever duty he was assigned to during the day.  He also offered his help to Grace but he had no skills in medicine and he had no hope in catching up to her knowledge and experience.  Still, he was nearby just in case.

After a long shift on the wall, he was sitting in the dirt and trying to sketch the power processing unit for an XJ-9 ion engine.  It was getting difficult to remember and he thought he might be accidentally incorporating parts of the XJ-8.  It felt like ages since he had opened something up to try and fix it.  After the addiction had taken its toll on his mind and body, he wasn’t sure what was left in his head.  He dreamed sometimes of being back up on the ship but he wondered if he could still fit in.

He looked down at his arm, still scarred from when his skin had erupted with open sores.  He couldn’t remember smelling bad but could tell from the expressions on  their faces.  He hadn’t been able to look Grace in the eye during that time so thankfully he couldn’t recall her reaction.  He knew what he must have looked like and how he probably did not look much better now.  He knew he must be less than human now, like the trolls and ogres from the fairytales he heard when he was little.

That thought brought his mind back to the Roland where he had spent his while life before his life was over.  His sister was still up there and so was his neice.  At least, he hoped they were still up there and safe.  He wondered how they would survive without him.  If they had any family left, they were not on the Roland.  He had heard of a possible distant cousin on the Danu or was it the Balaur.  There had never been a response when the message was sent out about the death of Phil and Sarah’s parents.

There hadn’t really been much time to think about it before but now that there was finally downtime, it was hard to think of anything but the past.  Thinking about the future didn’t seem to be worth it.  Everything looked so bleak.  His mind flashed to those little cat things, the giant snake, that six-legged predator, the man-eating flower,  insects in the trees and finally deadly trees.  Before he could stop it, images of all the dead bodies flashed into his mind’s eye.   He had only ever seen his parent’s bodies before he had fallen.

Something was going to catch up to them eventually.  The trees, the cat people or maybe even Declan would succeed in taking their lives.  Several of the fallen had already died and only more could follow.  If things didn’t start looking up, he wouldn’t have to worry about his family anymore.  After all, corpses don’t have a care in the world.

Fever Dreams in a Coma

February 16, 2014

This is a bit of writing based on my character in PlanetFall.  It’s basically what he was dreaming while in a coma from being drugged.   I thought it was a fun way to retcon and flesh out his back story a bit while adding in dream elements.   I wrote a large part of this while stuck in traffic for over an hour on the beltway.  So sit back and enjoy a tale of futuristic life on the Roland, a spaceship in a far flung future setting.

*                       *                     *

Somebody Mixed My Medicine

Phillip Brooks tilted back the cup and felt cool water slide down his throat.  Sometimes the laser welding got too hot and a break was just necessary.  He had ducked out of the shop and sat down on a bench in the relative quiet of the corridor.  Out of the corner of his eye he swore he saw something really, really shiny.  Something big.  He turned to look ut it was gone.

There was a beautiful woman standing there.  Calling her beautiful was an understatement and even saying she was drop dead gorgeous was not enough.  She wore a scarlet red dress which matched her red hair and Phil’s eyes were drawn to her shiny red lips.  He blinked and she was gone.  He was sure he had seen her before somewhere before.

He rubbed his eyes and turned around and Jensen was sitting next to him.

“Fucking XN-1s, huh?  Always a pain in the ass to repair the manifold.”  Jensen grinned a crooked grin at Phil.

Phil shrugged and found himself smiling. “I don’t know about that.  It’s only hard if you’re lazy.”  Jensen was not the kind of friend that Phil had imagined he would have but they were friends despite their differences.  While Phil tried to work hard and be a good guy, Jensen was always looking for the shortcut to having fun.

“Fuck you.  You gonna chase her?”

Phil blinked.  “Chase who?”

“That girl.  In red.”

Without warning, her image flooded his brain except she was closer than she had ever been before.  Those bright red lips looked so full.  He shook the image out of his head with considrable effort.

“I don’t know.  Something tells me I shouldn’t.”

“Then do you want to go out after work?  Come to the bar with the gang?”

“Thanks but I have to go home.  Maybe next time.”

“You always say that.  It’s always next time and it’s never next time.  I know that you’re tight with your family.  Is it because of your folks… because they died when…?”

Images of their parents splayed out on the floor of the living room.  Each had adhesive patches stuck on each arm.  He had turned to prevent Sarah from seeing but he was too late and she saw anyway.  He remembered them laid out as the burial rights were performed.   He shook his head hard before looking back at Jensen.

“When they overdosed on Tinnies. Yeah.  Thanks for bringing that up.”  Phil stood up and
walked back toward the shop.  “I have to get back to work.”

“Sorry, man.  I didn’t…”  But Phil was already gone.

 

“Barely Alive”

Sarah turned from the food processor, obviously annoyed.   She looked more and more like their mom every day.  It was both heartbreaking and inspiring to see.  Long chestnut brown hair and soft brown eyes that went hard when the situation called for it.  Currently, they had gone hard.

“I asked if you had a chance to ask your boss for a raise yet.” She said, hands on her hips.

“Yes I did.  He said no.” Phil responded, looking down at the table as if it were suddenly interesting.

He could still see the regret and sympathy on his boss’ face.  In that moment, Phil knew that his boss pittied him and there was no money for the raise.   That had been a dead end.

“What are we going to do then, Phil?  What is little Abigail supposed to do?”

Again, Phil saw something silvery shiny out of the corner of his eyes but again it was gone when he looked.  “I don’t know, sis.  I’ll think of something.  I promise.”

“We had better think of something or we’ll end up like mom and dad.”  Sarah said in a heart rending tone that made Phil look  up.  He saw their mother’s face superimposed over Sarah’s and he shuddered.

 

 “Fight to Survive”

“You could earn the extra money at the fights.” Jensen said.  He had caught Phil after work as they changed their clothes to go home.

“Gambling?  I don’t know, Jensen.”  Phil said, pulling a shirt over his head.

“If you’re too straightedge to gamble then why don’t you fight?  There’s nothing wrong with a little athletic competition, right?”

“I guess not.  What would I have to do?”  Phil found himself curious but of course he was nervous.  After all, this was illegal activities they were discussing.  However, the Brooks family was in a desperate situation.

“All you have to do is beat the other guy which should be easy for a guy like you.  You gotta be, what, two point one and 120 kilos?” *

“More like 125 but your pretty dead on with my height.  I always said you were good at measuring on the fly.  I don’t care who said what, you’re actually a good engineer.”  Phil smiled.
Jensen grinned in return and rolled his eyes.  “You’re going to wreck shop at your size especially with me as your manager.  Trust me.”

Sarah looked at him from across the kitchen table.  “This may be our only option.  We’re barely scraping by and he’s right.  He’s right.  You are so big and strong just like Dad was.”

“I’d have to go by a different name.  I don’t want to endanger the family.  This is still illegal.”
Sarah thought.  “I don’t know, maybe something like Rowan Daniels?”

“Rowan Daniels?  Where’d you get that?” Phil asked, liking the way the name sounded when he said it.

“I don’t know, our great grandfather’s name was Daniel.  Rowan was mom’s maiden name.  It kind of popped into my head.”

He saw his parents in front of him and behind them all the members of the Brooks clan and the Rowan clan.  They stood there staring straight ahead as if they saw something that Phil could never see.  All of them were dead or lost in the shuffle somewhere.  Maybe there were some of them on other ships but looking for them seemed liked a waste of time.  They were so utterly alone, the three of them.

“Rowan Daniels?” Jensen asked, a look of confusion and amusement passing over his face.
For a second, Phil was sure that he could see a flash of silver over Jensen’s shoulder and then it was gone.  “Rowan Daniels.  Are we going to do this thing or not?”

“Yeah.  Meet me at my place tonight after dinner and we’ll go and train.  Time to turn you into a killing machine.”

“I don’t kill, Jensen.” Phil said, calmly.  However there was a flamethrower intensity to each syllable.   He could feel the heat rising in his core slightly.  He didn’t have an anger problem and maybe if he repeated that over and over it would be true.  Control was important.

Jensen grinned easily and shrugged.  “Come on, Daniels.  It’s just an expression.”

 

 Eyes of a Child

“But you said that it’s never good to fight, Uncle Phil.”  Abigail said, clutching a pretty run down doll.

Phil sighed and regretted the fact that children are little tape recorders and seem to remember everything you say at the worst moments.  Abigail was such a good girl and her tough life had given her every reason to go bad.

“Sometimes you have to fight, Abby.  You may want to fight sometimes when you’re mad but that’s not when you fight.”

“When do you fight then?”  He flashed back to every moment that she looked up at him with those wide eyes and asked him a question.  He had to get this right.  Besides, she was asking the question he had asked himself again and again.

“When it matters.  When it’s for the people that matter.  I hope you never have to fight.”

 

Feel the Fire, He’s Entering the Ring.

Jensen swatted the back of his head.  “Stop whining, ‘Rowan’.  It’s almost fight time.  Don’t screw it up, I have money on you winning.”

“I’ll do my best.” Phil stripped his shirt off and clipped the Sign of Morrison to his belt for all he good it would do in this place.  Jensen gave him a look but said nothing.  Though they were friends, religion was one of the many things they agreed to disagree about.

“She’s in the audience.”

Phil’s heart wrenched as he snapped to attention.  “Who?”

“The lady in red.” Jensen grinned.

Mentioning her conly conjured her image.  So beautiful.  So tempting.

“I don’t think she’s a lady.  I wish you’d stop mentioning her.”  Phil said, his face darkening.

“Alright, alright.  I just thought Rowan Daniels might be interested.”

Phil looked up at that. “Well, he’s not.”  It felt weird referring to his alter ego in the third person.

“Anyway, I have a suprise for you since you insist on going incognito.”  He pulled out an old datapad and typed a few things into it and there was a sudden tingling sensation all over Phil’s back and arms.  He looked down and there were lines and shapes drawn all over his skin.  “I hacked your nanites to generate some old school tattoos.  Don’t worry, I can erase them after the fight.  What do you think?”

“I think it doesn’t look like Phillip Brooks is anywhere near this fight.”

“Almost.” Jensen grabbed a bottle of water and dumped it over Phillip’s head, his longish hair now literally had a wet look.  Combined with the tattoos, the hair made him look completely different like a beast waiting to be unleashed.  The two of them walked out to the ring together.

 

“He who makes a beast out of himself, gets rid of the pain of being a man.”

The crowd cheered as Phil approached the ring, he focused on acting tough which is not very hard when you are big and strong.  The crowd’s  cheering did make him feel good for a little bit.  He had always been a background player on the Roland and when they cheered he felt like a star.   He could see his opponent, a grim-looking man with platinum blond hair.  It was time to focus.

The fight began and his opponent was all punches and kicks.  He was a lot faster than Rowan Daniels was and he could feel the genesis of new bruises all over his body.  With each hit his opponent landed, he could feel his own frustration rising.  Finally, with a growl, Rowan swatted a punch aside and drove his forearm into his oponent’s face as hard as he can.  There was a loud crunching sound and then red dripped everywhere.  Red crept in from the edges of his vision.

Then he was standing over his opponent and a pool of blood and the man wasn’t moving.  Nobody was moving.  Rowan could feel the stillness of the room around him before he turned on his heel and walked from the ring slowly.  Behind him, the crowd erupted into cheers and applause but his heart was beating too fast to take it all in.

 

“I want to be a good man.  I want to see God.”

The fights had happened almost every night.  Phil could see every opponent in his mind’s eye like a slideshow of pain.  One after another.   A winning record was difficult to maintain.

“You’re doing really good, Phil.  We finally have enough money to survive.  We can even be a little comfortable.  Thank you.  I know how hard it is on you.”  Sarah said, those hard eyes went soft whenever she looked at him now.  It was not hard to figure out why with all of Phil’s cuts and bruises.  It had been a hard year of fighting.

“You’re facing a big guy tonight.”  Jensen said in the dim light of what passed for a dressing room.

“Great.  Just what I need, a long fight.”

“Not this time.  You’re taking a dive.”

“A dive?”  A dark cloud seemed to roll out overhead and Phil’s spirits sank.

“You lose on purpose.  Karl Leonid’s orders” Jensen said.  He didn’t look happy about it.  Neither of them did.

Rowan stepped out into the ring to near deafening cheers.  He looked into the eyes of his opponent.  As usual, he did not want to know the man’s name.  It somehow made the guilt easier the next day.  The crowd reached a fever pitch.  In the next moments, the match would begin.  Phil didn’t know if Rowan Daniels could throw a match.  He had always focused on winning.

The two of them charged each other.  There was a sudden high-pitched whine and then the world filled with white light.  After that, everything went black.

In the darkness, there was suddenly sensation.   Phillip suddenly felt restrained and weightless.  Whatever was happening, it was not good.

Heaven Knows, We Belong Way Down Below

* We’re in Canada, Bitches.  Phil is 6′ 9″ and 275 pounds give or take.

 

Phillip Brooks

October 12, 2013

(This is a character for yet another campaign I’m playing. It is called PlanetFall and the setting is courtesy of my friend Jim and his business partners)

In a far-flung possible future of mankind, a prophet built a spaceship to save as many people as he could from a calamity he foresaw.  Around thirty thousand years later, humanity lives on large spaceships.  In this future, the government gets rid of criminals and political enemies by abducting them from society.  They are the Fallen.  Mankind survives by forcefully harvesting resources from planets.  Afterwards, they deposit the Fallen on these harvested planets.
***
Phillip Brooks was born on the Roland and was raised by his family to be faithful and dedicated to walking the correct path.  As he grew up, it was clear he would be the spitting image of his father who had died when Phil was five.  His mother never really explained to Phil or his sister how their father had died.  Like his father, Phil grew up to be big and strong but also smart.  When their mother died, Phil took care of himself and his sister.

Phil spent his days working on repair detail which was a job he started as soon as he was of working age.  The job made sense as he had been interested in fixing things and engineering since he was 5 years old.  His boss, Mr. Cruz had taught him a lot more about electronics, fabrication and engineering.  However, the job didn’t cover the bills.  It wasn’t really anybody’s fault.  Times were tough.

Phil looked around for a solution to his problem.  He only did he need to support himself; he had to support his family.  He had always walked the straight and narrow but a friend at work had such an offer he couldn’t refuse.  Well, he refused it a couple of times but finally he thought of his niece going hungry.  He went with his friend to the dark places of the Roland.

Phil made the rest of the money in underground fights under the name of Rowan Daniels.  He spent his time at his day job, covered in bruises and scars and looking forward to his next fight.  Even in the fights he kept the faith, wearing a small holy symbol clipped to his belt.

This life all ended when the law raided one of the fights.  His opponent knocked him out in the confusion in order to create a distraction to get away.  Now, Rowan Daniels is dead, long live Phillip Brooks.

Phil leaves behind a younger sister and a niece he had been providing for.  What will become of them now that he’s gone?  He will miss his friends when he has time to think about them.  The life he lost wasn’t the best life but it was his.  Maybe he had been happier than he thought.

Now that he has fallen, he feels guilty about his acquired fighting skills and isn’t eager to fight again.  This doesn’t mean that he won’t use those skills to survive and help those around him to survive.  He doesn’t blame the church because he believes that it is his fault that he fell.  Now that he finds himself so far from home, he resolves to use the skills that he took for granted.  Maybe he can help fix things.

***
Following the revelation that planet X2945 is inhabited by sentient beings, Phil’s world has been shaken.  He always suspected something was amiss when he was fixing what looked like weapons damage on ships.  If there hadn’t been a war in ages, why was there weapon damage?  He had dropped that line of thinking when Mr. Cruz had told him to stop asking questions.

Now he knows for sure that their government had been murdering these people.  He knows that his religion dictated the correct path.   His faith said be good to people and he believed in that above all.  Maybe the government had been forced to do what Phil had been forced to do and hurt people to preserve life.  He doesn’t know if this was the right thing or not.  With things on such an unsure footing, he will just have to do what he feels is right.

Still, with this new knowledge, he knows he will never return to the Roland.  There is no way they will let people up there who know the truth.

***

(An admission: The seeds for this character were Fix-it Felix from Wreck-it Ralph and CM Punk from the WWE.  I love that somebody much more grounded came out of that.)


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