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Behind the Scenes

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?


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.

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.

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


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.

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.

Theta 02
Terry Stonewall – Champions Online
Terry Stonewall – DC Universe Online
Terry Stonewall – PCU World look in Champions Online

Character Origins: Jarred Jacoby

In my previous world origins post, I mentioned that some of these characters have been in my head for many years through several iterations.  Today, I’m starting a series of posts going over the origins of some of these characters.  This will be how I came up with the character and how the character has evolved, and not backstory that I would normally develop in a book itself.  Just a little behind-the-scenes stuff.


In either August or September of 1991, I finally got the nerve up to ask the girl who I had a crush on out.  I got shot down hard and I was devastated.  My best friend, Duane, in an attempt to cheer up, said, “Let’s make a Champions character.”  At this point, I have never played Champions before.  My RPG experience was Dungeons & Dragons as well as several one shot let’s try this game out sessions.  But I had several friends who had been playing Champions in another long time group they had been in, often referred to as “the Saturday Group.”  I had wanted to check it out, so I perked up when Duane suggested it.  Duane asked me to come up with a character concept, and he handled the actual character creation and points crunching.  As a side note, I created a character for him years later based on him describing his concept to me and that character became Revenant in the book.

Orig SD Char Sheet 01
Original Silent Death Character Sheet

Back in 1991, I read lots of comic books.  Every week I was down at the comic book store when they were putting up the new comics and buying issues of the series I followed.  And at this time, comics were starting to get darker.  So, my concept was for a street level dual-wielding sword carrying vigilante with cybernetics.  He had a cybernetic left arm and cybernetic eyes that gave him IR vision.  And he knew martial arts.  We got to the disadvantages section and started coming up with his back story.  He was a martial artist who had gotten on the wrong side of the Mafia and he had been beaten and tortured while his wife had been raped and killed.  I think.  Been so long I don’t remember the exact story, but that was the gist.

So I had a character, who I had named Silent Death.  Now, it was time to play him.  A couple of our other friends created characters and Duane ran a one-shot adventure for us.  One friend, Stephen, created a Spider-man rip off and another friend, Chris, created a Terminator rip off named Steele Justice.  And it was a lot of fun.  I got a Champions rule book a few months later for Christmas and started creating more characters, some of which eventually became characters in this book.  But Silent Death had been my first Champions character, and first characters tend to always hold a special place in my heart.


In the years following, Silent Death stayed with me, even as I created other characters.  I liked to draw back then, even if I wasn’t any good at it, and I would draw pictures of him.  And I would try to draw my own comic books, and he would be in them.  His look would change a little, as I would add a black trench coat to his ensemble.  Finally, in late 1993, I decided to create an original Champions campaign setting, instead of adapting the existing setting.  And I decided the setting would be a fictional hi-tech city.  That city became St. Mary.  Silent Death ended up being a vigilante that hunted in the rougher part of the city.  I refined his origin so that the man who killed his wife was a superhuman.  I never ended up using him in an actual game, but I drew two issues of a comic book I titled “Tales of St. Mary.”  And he was featured in one of the story arcs I had going there.

Silent Death in Action in St. Mary

His next evolution came when I created the world that New L.A. takes place in.  I wanted a version of him there and I tweaked the origin to fit the world.  I eventually featured him in the original story I had written that took place in this world (the one I never finished).  And he became one of the more prominent characters in this world.

After that, I adapted the character to other mediums.  He was an NPC who appeared in my Star Wars RPG campaign that I ran in the early 2000s.  I’ve also created versions of him in various video games, including World of Warcraft and Champions Online.  It was in Champions Online that I finally, in my head at least, ran him through the redemption story arc I had always envisioned.  And that was the last time I created a new version of him.

But he still lived in the world that New L.A. is in.  And when I started writing the book, I knew I wanted to bring him back, but have him be a little older and a little wiser.  But he is still Jarred Jacoby a.k.a. Silent Death.

Silent Death Jedi
Silent Death Champions Online
Silent Death World of Warcraft
Silent Death PCU Uniform


Silent Death Redemption Look as imagine in early 90s
Silent Death and Steele Justice – Early Days
Silent Death with Redemption Outfit fighting “Nemesis”
Page from Tales of St. Mary comic
Silent Death PCU Classic Look

Origins of a World

Back in the late 90s, I was a student at San Francisco State University. I had started out as a film student and switch over to the theatre program about 2 years in. The 90s is the time I came up with the original concept for many of the characters and organizations that make up the world New L.A. inhabits. And it was in the late 90s a short conversation came to my head that provided the seed for this world.
Hero (typical comic booky overdramatic): I’m here to stop your nefarious plot to take over the world!
Villian (staring blankly at Hero): Why would I want to take over the world? I already control it.
It was from this conversation that I started creating what I have named “PCU World”. I originally envisioned it as a campaign setting for the Champions Role-Playing Game that I hope to one day run my friends do. On a side note: I did eventually run a one-shot adventure in this world, and have made a minor reference to that one-shot in the book. I envisioned a world where my players would be constantly on the run, fleeing an organization that controlled the world behind the scenes, while trying to come up with ways to thwart that organization. That organization became the PCU.
I spent the next couple of years creating characters (or adapting old characters) for this world. As I created characters, ideas would come to me as to how they were connected. And I would come up with questions that needed to be answered. How did the PCU control everything? How was the PCU organized? How did Paranormals come about? And as these questions were answered, character backstories came to mind. Who are these individuals and why are they doing what they are doing?
In the spring of 2000, the world was fairly fleshed out and I was between jobs. So, I started writing the first story that took place in this world. I have never finished that story, though I still have what I did write and I knew what was going to happen. I knew Los Angeles was going to be destroyed.
Fast forward to 2015. Over the years, I have tried to revisit that world, but I was always going back to that moment in time in the late 90s to 2000. So, how about advancing the timeline to now. What happened? And that was the genesis for New L.A. Now, I see a lot of possibilities of where to go from here and developing and building upon the ideas I had some 15-20 years ago. I hope you will join me for the journey. In the meantime, I will leave you with my terrible drawing abilities (some of the forms may be traced in some drawings), and show some early character drawings of some characters in the book.

PCU glower in gear.
PCU agent in combat gear.