Saturday, February 17, 2007

Reconstructing the Way Down #2

“My name is Fetch. Adelaide Fetch. FYI, in ghost lore, a fetch is a nasty little haunt akin to a poltergeist. Which isn’t to say I’m dead. I’m damn hard to kill, but my heart’s still ticking and I can still shed a tear or two. But I know a good name when I see it, and this is the one I’ve been stuck with. Some people assume that being named ‘fetch’ means I can find things, or transport things, or maybe that I just like chasing thrown sticks. No such luck, unfortunately, which has always been a problem for people wandering into my offices.

No, my edge is a little more direct: I, Adelaide Fetch, am the Poltergeist PI; the oggart Bogart; the Gremlin Gumshoe; needless other corny names as applicable. I make the world go haywire, and even though I’m tough to kill, when I bring my edge to bear most people aren’t. You ever been attacked by an enraged set of butter knives and soup spoons before?

Trust me, that cutlery will do you some serious pain.”

Designing Fetch

So introduces Adelaide Fetch, the nominal protagonist and POV character for the new Way Down stories. He rose out of the POV-Character-Occult-PI genre that seems to be so prevalent these days, but more to the point he rose out of the need for a 1st person narrator who wasn't a) trapped in a bar, b) a criminal mastermind, or c) a woman (like I said before, when writing I'm just not confident I can get a female 1st person narrative style down straight). Which left out everyone from Mimir to Tom'o'Troubles to Judas Janet.

The result was that I had to create a character I could talk through, and one that had a reason to poke his nose where it didn't belong. I'd already written some basic ideas down for a city detective named Vale, a hero cop who took everything bad and evil inside him and funneled it into his shadow, creating a living, breathing nemesis that follows him wherever he goes. Vale's shadow works much like a Shadow from Wraith: The Oblivion in that it offers him a Faustian deal of power in return for evil, and also that it would bring him back to life, but every time he took power from it it got a little closer to being a REAL being, and able to walk about and cause evil on its own.

The problem with a character like that is that they tend to be broody and needlessly angsty. I don't WANT angst in the Way least not too much of it. This is supposed to be a slick, weird ride through a murky, overbearing city where junkies baseline a mix of zombie powder and Drain-O to get high; where the top underground rock band is made up of 4 men who claim to be fallen angels (Morningstar and the Fallen); where the height of underground fashion is set by a woman who doesn't go anywhere without a WWI-era gasmask on. This is no place for Angel/Elric-style broodiness about how evil is a part of you, etc. etc.

Fetch's Look

And thus was Adelaide Fetch born. A semi-hardboiled PI with a knack for making the world go nuts. A man who DOES carry a gun, unlike certain occult PIs I could name (*coughdresdenandtaylorcough*), but generally just uses it to club people over the head with. He's not a good looking man, he's not a womanizer, and in appearence he's closer to Conan Doyle's description of Holmes than to the prettyboys (or at least handsome men) like Green's John Taylor. Actually, Paul Blackthorne, the man currently playing Harry Dresden on the television adaptation of The Dresden Files, is pretty close to my original conceptual stuff for Fetch. Make him a bit shorter, make him almost entirely bald on top, break his nose a few times, and make his build a bit more wiry and you're getting closer to what Adelaide Fetch looks like.

Fetch's History

Fetch grew up in the school of hard knocks. Carstark Crossing is a lower-middle class district of Necropolis where Fetch spent his first couple years of life following an adoption at an early age. CC isn't a great neighbourhood, but its normal enough that most ofthe Underground leave it alone, if only becuase its so dreadfully boring, magically. Fetch's Edge started up when he was young, he's not really sure where it came from, and played havoc with the family house while he was asleep. While the exact origin of his powers his a mystery, Fetch has often theorized it has something to do with being the sole survivor of a plane crash that orphaned him as an infant and led to his subsequent adoption. Some piece of the havoc on the plane stayed with him, deep inside him. Some shard of death and chaos (more on Fetch's gift in a moment).

Within a few weeks of his Edge manifesting, Fetch was back in the adoption system. Necropolis is a dangerous place for orphans; they tend to go missing when no one is watching, especially at places like Our Lady of Perpetual Penance Orphanage in Carstark Crossing where Fetch was sent in between homes. While he finished his education normally, Fetch learned a lot about sneaking, a lot about stealing, and a whole lot about running while he grew up. But there was one thing he could never outrun: His poltergeist Edge.

After he graduated high school and got out on his own, Fetch fell into the private investigation business as partner to the infamous, and now very late, Necropolis PI, Felix "Sinner" Sullivan. Sullivan was infamous for his own Edge, the one that let him look into your eyes and see every dirty and shameful thing you'd ever done. And he could fling it right back at you. They say that Sullivan could have made one of the greatest priests in the world, but he preferred to looking a philandering husband in the eyes and then get him to cough up the dough to keep quiet.

Working for Sullivan, Fetch learned the dirty side of the private detective's game, and he learned how to be a damn good detective at the same time. It wasn't a bad gig, even if Sullivan DID make him sleep on the couch in the office. After Sullivan died, an unfortunate incident involving an attempt to blackmail Tom'o'Troubles, his will left the office, the apartment, the car, and the three grand in outstanding debts at the dogtrack to Fetch.

After scaring the bejesus out of the bookies at the track and getting himself banned from Booktown (the Necropolis district where all the illegal sporting events take place), Fetch settled old scores and started the detective agency anew. He didn't have Sullivan's eye for sin, but he had more muscle packed behind his eyes than any ten palookas, so when it came to taking the strong arm to the streets for information he did things just as well as Sullivan...some say better. Sullivan couldn't stare down Glaistig, but Fetch's power kept Tom'o'Troubles pet assasin at bay.

Fetch's Edge

Fetch's Edge, as the opening quote suggests, makes the world go haywire. Its basically a very focused, area-of-effect telekinesis. There isn't a whole lot of room for subtlety with it; when Fetch unleashes his Edge every small object in the room picks itself up and starts orbiting him. He can direct their movement, so his Edge makes a GREAT tool for busting things up and scaring the shit out of people, but its not great for small stuff. At its lowest levels of manifestation, it flings about cutlery with a dangerous ease. Fetch still hasn't discovered its upward limits, but he once took out a renegade client by hurling a Volkswagon at them.

The problem with Fetch's Edge is that it seems to have a mind of its own. He has to CONCENTRATE when he's using it, otherwise whatever he's animating tends to act on its own accord, attacking random people and causing a truly impressive level of damage. It also tends to get worse the less he's thinking about it, and the Volkswagon incident started off as an attempt to distract said renegade client with swirling garbage, and ended up with swirling cars. Fetch knows how to play the stories about his Edge's power up, and tries to avoid people realizing how easily it can go rogue.

There are a few ancilliary benefits to his Edge, however. Fetch's Edge instinctivly works to hold his body together. While he's not invulnerable, Fetch tends to heal faster than most, doesn't lose a lot of blood, doesn't tend to go into shock, and is generally just really hard to kill or keep down. Additionally, his Edge can be pushed to a much smaller level than he lets people know. He doesn't use it often, but he can push his Edge to such a small level that it fries delicate electronics and makes most electrical systems go truly haywire. He hasn't tried to 'geist anything finer than that...he's a little worried what would happen if he tried.


And that's where we find Adelaide Fetch, 10 years after Sullivan's death. He's been in the game for 12 years at this point in time. He's going on 31, but he feels older. His hair certainly LOOKS older. His trenchcoat hasn't seen the cleaners in over a year, and his shoes could use a shine. He carries a .357 not for the bullets but for the weight of the butt, and the switchblade on his left ankle can kill from a hundred paces. He's not the best detective in the Necropolis, but he's one of the only ones who sets his own price...and decides whether or not he's going to be bribed.

He's an interesting character to explore for the narrative...and I think you'll find that he ties into the Way Down quite nicely. And very amusingly.

Next week I'll talk about redesigning the Way Down itself, along with some new friends and enemies in the persons of the Magic Mafia, The Aleister Arms, and the many free agents who roam the Necropolis night.

Till next Friday, Excelsior!


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