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

 

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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.

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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.

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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

The Importance of Routine

Lately I have been thinking about how important routine is to the process of writing.  When I first started writing New L.A., it was just an interesting side project.  I had done some sporadic writing over the years, most recently some Star Wars Fan Fiction based on my old Star Wars RPG campaigns.  But I wanted to do something that was all mine.  So, I started writing a new story in a world I created years ago.

Early on, I was just thinking of this story as a series of short stories that I would post online.  But, at that point, I wasn’t serious about it yet, so I would do a chapter or two a week, stumbling my way through the story.  But I wasn’t focused, my priority being other things in my life.  My mom started reading my chapters that I was writing and said she would edit if I ever wanted to get serious about it.  One afternoon three months later, when I was about halfway through what is now the current book, I did some research and I got serious.

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Corey watching me write less than a month before her death

At this point, I established a routine for writing.  Five days a week, during a certain time of day, I would be working on the book, either writing, outlining, or anything else to push the progress of the book along.  I did the first half of the book in three months.  The second half, I wrote in just under two months.  Would’ve gotten it done faster if life hadn’t gotten in the way with our cat getting sick and passing away.

I think I am thinking about this topic because I am trying to get back into my routine.  The month of March has been very disruptive to my routine with my family visiting from California.  Love having them out here and going to Spring Training games with them, but I didn’t get much done on the next book while they were here.  And it’s already looking like I’m going to have more disruptions coming in about a month a half, which I will write about closer to when that is happening.  But that is the way of life.  It’s going to disrupt your routine, but I feel, as a writer, trying to maintain your routine is important to keeping up your work flow.  I’m just hoping my life can calm down for a bit so I can get back into my routine.

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Yankees Spring Training Game, March 2016

A Word about Sound

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Old analog sound board

If you look at the small bio piece on this page, you will see it says that I am a former Sound Designer/ Engineer.  For about fifteen years, I worked at various theatres around the country either designing sound or running sound for various professional theatrical productions.  It was something I enjoyed doing a lot and something I wish I appreciated more while I was doing it.  And I do miss doing it.  These days, I get my sound “fix” by running sound at the church my wife and I attend.  It’s not as complicated as mixing a musical, but it has its own challenges.

Recently, our church underwent an auditorium renovation, where the back half of the room was completely redone and risers were installed with very comfortable theatre seating.  As I write this, we had our first service in there last night for Good Friday.  And while the theatre person in me is excited by the renovation itself, as a part of the renovation were a couple of upgrades to the sound system.

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One of the two new line array speakers

The first upgrade was to the main speakers.  We had two speakers hanging in the center of the room that tried to cover the whole space.  Don’t get me wrong, these speakers were pretty good, just not for this space.  I ended up adding two powered Mackie speakers that sat on top of the subs and using them as fill speakers to cover the main speakers’ blind spots.    Those speakers were pulled down this week and replaced by two line arrays that give much better coverage of the room.  They’re not perfect, as I have heard some minor blind spots while walking the room, but those blind spots are barely noticeable and it has been a huge improvement to the room.  Plus, the guys who installed it are coming back in a few weeks to tweak things based on what we hear after a couple of weeks of use.  But, overall, I’m quite happy with the new speakers.

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New digital sound board right out of the box

Now the second upgrade came as a surprise to me.   When this renovation project started, new speakers were always part of the plan.  What wasn’t originally a part of the plan was a new sound board.  When I first heard the rumor we were getting a new board, I didn’t believe it.  Then, I started getting excited as we were converting from an analog sound board to a digital one.  When the new board came in and I opened it, I was like a kid on Christmas morning.  But I also needed to shift my mind set.  It had been a year and half since I last used a digital board, and the mindset is very different.  But, I soon got back into the swing of it as I started figuring out and programing the board for use in our space.  For me, it was a lot of fun.

I now have one service down using the board, and looking for to later today, when I get to use it for the first time with a whole band (instead of the keyboard, acoustic guitar, and vocals I had last night for Good Friday).  I’m also looking forward to the long weekends I have coming up, where I have to get everybody else who runs sound at church up to speed with a digital console.  In the meantime, I have a new toy to play with.

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New digital sound board ready for it’s first service.

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.

Beginnings

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.

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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.

Evolution

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.

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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.

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

 

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