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Nathan Rux

April 17, 2000

In the world of my book, New L.A., April 17, 2000 is a very important date.  It is on this date that the event that turned Los Angeles into a 20-mile wide crater happened.  It is on this date that events were set in motion that led to the story told in the book.  But why this date and how did it come about?

Origins

Before New L.A., I started another story that took place in this world.  The tentative title of that story was Lost Souls, and it was basically the story of twin teenage girls who discover that have incredible abilities and the discovery of the secret organization that keeps people with abilities from becoming public knowledge.  I got a ways into that story and I consider what I did write in that story canon for my world and referred back to it when writing New L.A.  My plan was to have the world discover the existence of these Paranormals, and that Los Angeles would pay the price.  But I never quite got that far in the story.  Close, but not quite.  So, when I decided to revisit this world, I knew I wanted that event to have happened and that was the springboard for the actual setting itself.

So, why April 17, 2000?  How did I come up with that date?  Once again, I went back to the original story.  In that story, I started each chapter with a journal entry written by one of my main characters, Terry Stonewall.  These were mostly her reflections on the events happening in the story and I thought it was nice little thing to have.  One of the last chapters I have finished had the following entry, which I will warn has never been edited.

Until today, I had never realized how sheltered my life was.  Yes, I had known there were individuals out there that were less fortunate than myself, but I had never been exposed to them before.  Even the less fortunate at school didn’t seem to be that bad off from my point of view, but I was viewing them in the school environment.  Today, I saw the environment they must’ve lived in and I was shocked that people could live that way.  I still have a hard time imagining what their life must’ve been like growing up living like dogs sometimes.  Makes my problems seem a little insignificant, as I’m sure any one of them would love to trade places with me, as I have the power to do something about my life.  The power of my mind.

                                                -Terry Stonewall

                                                   April 16th, 2000

As you can see, I dated each of these journal entries, to give an idea of when chronologically the events in the chapter happened.  Where did I originally get the dates?  Honestly, I picked them at random when I was first writing this 15 years ago or so.  This journal entry had the date April 16, 2000.  I decided, based on how events were going to unfold linking what happened in that story with the new story, the event that destroyed Los Angeles was going to be the next day.  After that, it was a matter of doing a little research and finding out more about that day, like what day of the week was that (April 17, 2000 was a Monday).

For me, it is important to get as many details as I can right.  Am I going to get everything 100% right?  Nope!  But, I try to get as much right as I can and whatever I don’t get right, I will consider it artistic license.  But I know there are people out there who will call me out on the details and I will do my best to get as my of them right as I can.  But, mistakes will be made as I am only human.  As are we all.

Mid LA
A graphic my wife did that fairly accurately depicts where the crater that New L.A. sits in exists.

Traveling

When I was working in theatre, it gave me the opportunity to really see this country.  I’ve crisscrossed this country several times.  My old program bio said something like, Nathan has worked at theatres on both coasts and points in-between.  I’ve had jobs in California, Massachusetts, Texas, Indiana, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Florida, West Virginia, and Oklahoma.  And whenever I moved from one job to the next, I would drive.  And I would drive back home to California whenever I had downtime (usually a month or two around January).  So, I have seen a lot of the roads in this country to the point I know where the good places to stop are (either for gas, lodging, or just to rest).  I have interesting stories from my trips, like almost running out of gas in Wyoming in the middle of the night and finding a gas station with a working pump just when I needed it, like an oasis in the desert.  Or driving home to California while sick, and taking a couple of nap breaks on the last day in Holbrook, Az and a rest area in the middle of the Mojave Desert on I-40.  Most of the time, these drives consist of beautiful scenery and my music blaring out of my stereo as the miles tick by.

Well, I don’t get to travel much anymore.  I haven’t left the state of Florida in just over a year, and have only gone over two hours from our place just once in the past year.  And for the most part, I’ve been ok with that as the last few trips have been on roads that I’ve driven multiple times and had gotten quite boring.  There are some places I would like to drive to someday, but that will have to wait.  But, I do have some traveling in the future now.

Due to circumstances I’m not going to get into here, in the next two months, I’m making not one, but two cross-country drives.  The first one will be a solitary drive from Southern California back to Florida.  And the thing I’m excited about with that drive is I’m going to drive some road I’ve never driven before.  Usually, when going through Texas, I cut up north to see family and I’ve never driven the more southern route on I-10 across the whole state.  This time, I will be, as I plan on seeing family on the second trip.  The second trip will be with my family, and I’m not sure what the exact route will be as it hasn’t been decided.  We will be driving from the San Francisco Bay Area to Florida, and we will pass through the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex to see family.

The downside with all of this traveling is its going to put a kink in my writing.  I’m not going to get much done on that front during this time.  On the plus side, it will give me a lot of time to think and mull things over.  Often during my writing process, I would play scenes over and over in my head until I hit something that seems to work.  Then, I will write it and the characters will put their own spin on it.  But, I will have plenty of time to go over scenes in my head.  And I may pass through a locale that will inspire me and use it as a location.  Wouldn’t be the first time that has happened.

Inspiration and a Thank You

I’ve been a gamer since my senior year in high school.  I still remember going through several level 1 characters in my first D & D campaign because of the fortress full of kobolds.  There have been spectacular dramatic moments, like when the climax of the adventure came down to a single die roll to determine if my brother’s character’s thrown dagger hit the boss.  For the record, he rolled exactly what he needed.  And many inside jokes came about, my favorite still being “Thump!”

A year later, I was talked into Gamemastering (or GMing) my first campaign, and that’s when gaming started to truly become a vehicle of inspiration and creativity for me.  That first campaign, we were playing the West End Games D6 Star Wars RPG.  One of my friends came up to me and said, “I want to play this, not run it.  You run it.”  And so I did, and that little campaign lasted the summer.  It was also the creation of my little corner of the Star Wars universe that would be further developed years later when I GMed a Star Wars D20 campaign that lasted a couple of years.  In the middle of all of this, I was introduced to Champions, a game I both played and later GMed.  As I went over in an earlier blog post, the story and the world of my book, New L.A., was born from my Champions campaigns.

Eventually, I started gaming less and less.  I was building a career as a sound tech in professional theatre and started crisscrossing the country going from gig to gig.  I was no longer around the friends I would game with, and I didn’t really have the time anymore.  Early on in this time, I would squeeze in a game about once a year when I came home to California, but getting home became less frequent as well.  And a lot of my creations fell into the rearview mirror as I moved forward with life.

Skip ahead to about a year ago.  I finally came to realization that my career in theatre was coming to an end for various reasons.  For me, this was a dark time as I was searching for what I was going to do now.  It was around this time that Geek & Sundry started a Twitch channel, and I stumbled onto one of their new shows called Critical Role.  Critical Role is a show where a group of voice actors play Dungeons & Dragons.  And they play like I always strived to play, to tell a story.  Each player role-plays their characters well and their Dungeonmaster, Matthew Mercer, is the kind of Dungeonmaster I always strived to be.  And their game told a vast and interesting story that I still follow to this day.

Critical Role lit a spark inside of me that had gone out a long time ago.  It got me thinking about my old games and the stories that we had created.  It helped me tap into the creativity that had gone dormant long ago.  It got me dreaming again.  I decided to revisit one of my favorite campaign settings I had created, and I started creating a new story.  During the process of writing this new story, I decided to try and make it an ebook.  I focused myself and I set the goal to make it a reality.  The result: I have an ebook available for sale called New L.A., the first in what I hope will be a series of books.

A year ago, I would never have imagined that I would self-publish an ebook.  Doing something like that is not in my nature.  I don’t put myself out there like that.  But somehow, I did.  Perhaps Scanlan gave me an inspiration die.  Regardless, I do credit Critical Role for igniting the creative spark in me again.  And for that, I am incredibly thankful to the cast and crew of the show.  So, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Is it Thursday yet?

Character Origins: Terry Stonewall

While this is an origin of how Terry Stonewall came to be, I can’t really talk about Terry without also discussing her sister, Sherry.  They came about as an idea for identical twin superheroes, initially having the same energy projection powers but with different personalities.  They were called Star & Light.  Sherry, who was Star, was the more outgoing of the two.  She had the drive to be popular and to look good at saving the day.  The way I would look at it today, she’s the extrovert.  Terry is the introvert.  She was more cerebral, who cared more about reading a book and figuring things out than putting herself out there.  As with a lot of my early Champions concepts, the characters were initially pretty bland.  But over time, they evolved.

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Terry & Sherry Stonewall with R.A.P. – Early Days

 

Tempest
Terry Stonewall as Tempest

I abandoned the idea of these characters when I created my next world, the St. Mary campaign.  I felt they weren’t interesting at the time, so I never made an updated version of the characters.  But I started toying with the concepts again during an intermediate step between St. Mary and PCU world, the world New L.A. takes place on.  In the time between, I created a character that I thought I might be able to take into a one-shot game being played at a gaming convention.  The character would essentially be a super-hero team, where I would have the main character and a small team of followers that would be the team.  While creating characters for the team, I revisited Terry & Sherry.  It was at this point that I decided to scrape them having identical energy projection powers that were quite boring.  Instead, their powers would become reflections of their personality.  Sherry being the extrovert, her powers became more physical and active with enhanced strength and agility.  Terry the introvert gained powers of the mind.  During this particular incarnation of Terry, I also merged her with another concept I had during the St. Mary era, which was a telepath who wore powered armor to disguise they were a telepath.  Sherry became Kylan and Terry became Tempest.

When I started creating the world that is now the world of New L.A., I revisited these twins again.  More accurately, I revisited them when I decided to write my first story that took place in this world, the one I never finished.  That story ended up being their story and how they discovered the world that is controlled by the PCU.  And while writing that story, their characters started forming a clearer picture in my head.  They became living breathing characters in my head.

TerryStonewall2
Terry Stonewall – PCU World

Eventually, I hit a roadblock in that story and I moved on to other things.  But, over the years, I would revisit the characters again, mainly when I played super-hero genre video games.  I made versions of them in both City of Heroes, and then later Champions Online.  I even created a version of Terry in DC Universe Online, but in that particular instance, I made her a Green Lantern, mainly because I wanted to build a Green Lantern character.

Terry Stonewall 02
Terry Stonewall – City of Heroes

 

Eventually, everything came full circle and I returned to the world that New L.A. inhabits and revisited that story.  And I knew I wanted the twins to be involved in some way.  I was able to get Terry into New L.A., and someday, we will find out more about Sherry.  But that is a story for another time.

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Terry Stonewall – Champions Online
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Terry Stonewall – DC Universe Online
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Terry Stonewall – PCU World look in Champions Online