Monday, 17 May 2010

Magical beings in the world

Some ideas about what might be in the world out there. Now, I feel that it should mostly center around humans, so I really don't think I'd like stuff like elves, vampires and stuff like that in the thing.

Demons
Demons would be nice. I don't want to go for the Christianity view of them, so I imagine them just like beings from....somewhere else with their own agendas, who will be able to provide knowledge, power and other perks for the right price.

Fairie
Eh, the Fey can be done really well, but I don't seem them working in here, so no.

Vampires
No. Not a fuckin' chance in hell.

Ghosts
Could work, I suppose, but they are a bit too overused (even more so then the rest) so no ghosts.

Gods
As already posted before, I really like the idea of humans being able to draw power from gods, so there will have to be such running around the place. I suppose only a few of them would still be around in modern days, with each one having their own agendas and needing humans to do most of the work.

Werewolves
I'm all for werewolves, but they just won't work in this, so no. However, humans being able to become possessed by animal spirits and become faster/stronger/have keener senses - it would fit well with the whole "gaining power from somewhere else" theme.

Ghouls/Zombies
Hmmm...naaah.

Magic

Ok, enough delaying, let's get this thing started! There are several ideas I have on magic, so I'll try to explain them as best as I can.

"Classic" magic

And by this I mean being able to throw around fire and lightening, teleportation, summoning and so on. This one has the obvious advantage of being the easiest to relate to, since it's a lot easier to point out at a guy who just roasted someone with a few words and say "Yeah, that guy's a wizard." then to point at the guy who seems to hang around historical landmarks a lot and doesn't really seem to do anything magical.

And of course, being this obvious also brings the main disadvantage of this - money. Doing special effects for the spells with a limited budget would be a bitch. It would either cost too much or result in shitty effects. Both cases are a no-no.

Of course, this could be bypassed by making spellslining like that rare. Instead, most magic would be shown trough rituals - magic circles, incantations, spells, incense - the works. These things will be able to accomplish a lot more complex things and cut down on the SFX too.

To be honest, I personally prefer this to the next one, mostly due to it's familiarity, as noted before.

Post-Modern Magick

The other thing that could be used is go for the Unknown Armies approach - strange and unusual magic, stemming from obsessions and weird logic. People buying themselves luck by taking risks, changing reality by getting drunk and being able to twist the memories of people by being history nerds.

This one is more or less the opposite of the "classical" magic I described above. The main advantage is the fact that most of this stuff is subtle and requires very little in the way of special effects. Making something fly across the room here and there, some filters and stuff - nothing fancy.

Of course, with being so weird also comes the main problem - it will be very hard for people to really get what's going on without needing tons of exposition on the matter, and I don't want exposition in the show unless it's vitally needed. (After all, the characters are supposed to already know this stuff and hang around other people who know this stuff. Why feel the need to explain anything to anyone?)

I guess a mixture by the two would be optimal. A wizard performing a complex ritual with candles, rare gems and tons of sigils and magic circles in order to enchant a cell phone or his laptop.

Sponsored Magic

This one I like and would love to have in there. While adepts in UA just didn't really click with me as much as I would have liked, Avatars were something that really got me hyped up. (I've explained what an avatar is already. Go do some back reading)

It has both the advantages of the previous two - it's both fairly easy to explain and at the same time would, for the most part, require very little in the way of editing and effects.

There is something I just can't decide on, however. Ok, so characters could be able to draw their magic and energy from somewhere and something else, but the question is simple - from where? Now, this could be made just the way Avatars work - if you behave in a curtain way and surround yourself with the proper symbols you will be able to draw power from something bigger than you.

However, I also like what they do in the Dresden Files (especially the RPG) with the whole Emissary of Power thing. Basically, a character gets powers and magic from someone else - a demon, a powerful fairy, some god or something like this. In return, however, you have to do stuff for your sponsor.

And for the life of me, I just can't decide which one I want to use. In general, I would like if there weren't any obviously supernatural beings. A middle path might, again, be the best solution - You can gain power from a deity (this way I can get to use all these cool pantheons we have invented during our time on this earth), but will still have to cover themselves with the proper symbols in order to connect to it.

Now, I am imagining this as going along with either of the previous two possibilities, but I imagine it would be an interesting twist if humans are unable to draw power from themselves and have to rely on external sources to get their mojo.

Aaand yeah, this is all I have for now on the topic.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

And for a bit more break...

Ok I will get to the magic post eventually. I swear! Until then here's something else that I want to talk about for a bit.

This video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25LBTSUEU0A

This is the video for Timbaland's song Morning After Dark...wait wait don't go! I'll explain why this is here!

Now, let's get this out of the way - the song is a giant "MEH!" at least from me. This isn't my type of music, and I really ran into this by complete accident. The music video however, now that's something different.

It might just be me reading the Unknown Armies books for too long, but I really feel that the characters in the video might make some pretty good characters in a game or, hell, maybe even this tv series. Why? Well look at 'em!

One is a fat, overdressed black guy who makes silly faces, one is a tattooed chick dressed like she's from somewhere in France during WWII and...well one is Nelly Furtado looking like a goth whore. Ok so maybe not all of them are perfect, but whatever.

Also, in the entire video these guys are following around some woman, confronting supernatural or implied-to-be-supernatural beings along the way, and none of this is really explained, all of it is left to the viewer. (Or maybe I'm really reading too deep into this, who knows?). Also, it's obvious these people are not quite ordinary themselves. Timbaland disintegrated a vampire by giving it a silly glare!

With a bit more work on who and what these characters are, I feel they could easily fit into the whole feel I am imagining for this show - of weird people doing weird, magical things.


Thursday, 13 May 2010

And for a break

Ok, next big thing I want to talk about is how magic will be presented in the show, however I just have way too many ideas and can't seem to organize them. So, instead of doing that, I'm going to post a bit from Unknown Armies that I really love.

It's a short scenario from Hush Hush - the Sleepers sourcebook (I gave a general idea of what they are in the themes post) called Showdown. I'm not sure if it's something that could be done in this series, but I just like to so here we go. I will give a short explanation of the terminology used in this after the thing.

Showdown

Flashpoint
The word is out in the underground. Two Avatars of the Masterless Man, both adepts, both getting close to Godwalker status, are calling each other out. It promises to be messy.

Summary
Everybody's talking about it, but few have the real story. Facts are hard to come by in the underground and your average duke's knowledge of Avatars and Clergy business is spotty at best. What's clear from the initial rumors is that two powerful adepts are planning to have it out, it's going down soon, and they don't care who sees it.

Finding out who, when and where are the priorities of the Sleepers. Enough drink-buying, data-sharing, and leg-breaking will produce more information, though it's not necessarily reliable. (It's a showdown between TNI and the Naked Goddess crew. It's a grudge match between Paragon of Team Salvation and a self-styled supervillain. It's between two rival Iconomancers, each claiming the supremacy of their chosen idol.) Whoever the combatants are, the clock is ticking.

Complicating the Sleepers' efforts to pinpoint ground zero is their own reputation. Few underground-dwellers are eager to deal with the Sleepers or be labeled as snitches and informants. If the investigation team plays it cool, either trough deception or assurance of anonymity, they will find the occasional adept willing to talk. The local 'mancers aren't exactly thrilled at the prospect of the showdown waking the tiger. With enough guile, style, or force, the Sleepers will eventually uncover the true worst-case scenario: one Avatar is a chaos mage, the other a sterno. A duel promises lots of explosions and casualties. High profile.

The Sleepers will also get a name, not of either duelist but of someone who knows their
identities: Amy Swarzkoff, Avatar of the Chronicler. Amy's keeping the information to herself; she's got a shot at chronicling a major event and doesn't want anyone, especially the Sleepers, to rob her of the opportunity. She knows who's involved, where it's going down and why. Strong-arm tactics won't get much play; Amy's devoted to her Archetype. Trickery has a better chance of succeeding, and negotiation is perhaps the best. Amy doesn't care where the fight happens as long as it does, and that she has a ringside seat. If the Sleepers can convince her they only want to confine the action to a private venue, and give her access, Amy could talk.

Targets
The fur flies at dawn: a main street in the downtown core during morning rush. The combatants are both in the low 90s of Avatar skill, meaning they're both closing in on the current Godwalker; not only is secrecy irrelevant to them, it's actually a hindrance to demonstrating their desire for the title. The bigger the show, the better the winner's chance of taking down the Godwalker later on. The combatants are:

Marcus Renault, Annihilomancer and Avatar of the Masterless Man. He doesn't take orders from anyone, and that includes the sleeping tiger. He'll level city blocks to reveal the truth as he sees it - that he's the biggest badass that ever walked the land.

Stanislav Orzewski, Entropomancer and Avatar of the Masterless Man. What greater risk could there be than going toe-to-toe with Renault in a public place, slinging spells in his Archetype's name for everyone to see?

If the Sleepers identify the duelists and contact either of them prior to game time, the team has two obvious options: talk the boys out of it or kill them. The first would require a Herculean feat of persuasion and cunning. The second is even more difficult: both guys are extremely powerful and opt for escape over making a stand, since they've got a better match waiting. If the circumstances warranted, the duelists would even ally against the Sleepers to guarantee their duel. Any attack against either Avatar has a chance of being as big a spectacle as the one the Sleepers are trying to prevent.

Here are some terms explained, in case you didn't do as I said and hunted down UA.

Avatar: Someone who is channeling the power of an Archetype - a sort of general behavior found in human culture.

The Masterless Man: An Archetype, mostly associated with the Japanese roning or the western gunslinger. Tough guy working for a world that has no place for him. Big on showdowns, duels and face to face combat.

The Chronicler: Archetype that focuses on writing down and preserving important events, without interfering in them.

Godwalker: An Avatar who has achieved 99% in their Avatar skull, thus becoming an absolute physical incarnation of their Archetype. If they manage to defeat the Archetype, they can ascend and take it's place in the Invisible Clergy.

The Invisible Clergy (The Clergy): All the Archetypes in the world that exist in the plane of existence know as the Statosphere.

TNI: The New Inquisition, an organization the Occult Underground, led by billionaire Alex Able.

Sect of the Naked Goddess: Cabal in the OU, followers of the Naked Goddess, a porn actress that has ascended to the Clergy during one of her movies.

Adept: A person who can use magic by bending reality to his will.

Iconomancer: Adepts that gain magical abilities by worshiping famous dead people (JFK, Merilyn Monroe, Che Guevara and so on)

Annihilomancer (Sterno): Adepts that use magic gained and geared towards destruction of anything you hold dear. Very flashy effects - lots of fire and explosions.

Entropomancer (Chaos mage): Adepts that gain magic trough taking risks for the sake of risk, thus gaining the ability to later manipulate chance in their favor. Not as destructive as the Sternos, but can cause lots of collateral damage around themselves.


So why did I make you read all of this crap? Because I personally find the entire situation very very interesting, and this is the kind of thing that might be the point of several episodes from the series - the buildup towards and then - the even itself. Plus, the aftermath of something like this will be huge.

Anyways, enough for now - will try to organize my ideas for the way magic works (which is more or less one of the core things that need to be cleared in this) and then post it here.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Location, location, location!

Now then, let's consider an important aspect of the setting - the city in which this whole thing will take place. The way I see it, I have generally 3 choices:

1. A city in the United States
2. A city somewhere in Western Europe (a capital, most likely)
3. A city here in my home country, Bulgaria. (haha, yeah that's gonna happen.)

So let's try to examine these in a bit more detail.

1. The US

To me, the most obvious of choices. There are already enough movies and TV series set in large cities like New York, Chicago, LA and so on, so why not set this there? Well for one thing, I know barely anything about these cities outside of general knowledge and what I've seen in the movies.

However, cities like New York with it's 8 million population can do wonders for a show like this, since it would allow the series to easily feature lots of different groups of characters, with none of them having to even meet unless desired. Plus, in a show about strange and weird individuals hiding in the masses of normal humans, this works pretty well too.

2. Western Europe

Well this one is a bit closer to home, but there's still the whole "lack of knowledge" part. One thing that capitals and large cities in Europe have over the US ones though is the fact that a lot of them are old, and thus filled to the bring with history, folklore, urban legends and such.

Now, London would be a fairly obvious choice, however this would instantly force a comparison to Neverwhere, and while that was awesome, let's try to distance the show from it.

Now, I'm not really sure about Paris for example, but Berlin can be perfect for this sort of thing with the Wall, spies and agencies looking over each other's shoulder and trying to figure out what the guys on the other side are doing, neonazis and remnants of the old Nazi occult forces (Because, really, with a magical game how can you NOT have Nazi occult forces?) trying to come back into power and so on and so on.

Placing the show in an old city like this also means that the theme of "Old vs New" will have to be very dominant, since Europe, in general, is a land of traditions.

Obviously, there are a lot of choices here, so this is going to be left open for discussion.

And finally....

3. Bulgaria

If you don't know what Bulgaria is - Google it.

Now then, while I'm no history buff or anything, living in this country my whole damn life does give me the advantage of knowing my way around the place more than I do with cities in the US or the rest of Europe. Then again, there are more than enough problems with setting the show in here.

First one, Bulgaria is small. Biggest city in the country is the capital with around 2 million people in it, which means that there would be, hell 20~50 people who could do actual magic. Now that severely limits the variety in characters.

Second, the country was under communist rule not until 20 years or so, which means that our culture will be mostly strange if not outright alien to most western viewers (since, really, who else is going to actaully watch this damn thing?) which might pose kind of a problem.

Thirdly, who the hell could I get in here to even play in the damn thing? Nobody, that's who!

Fourth (fourthly?) is the fact that while I am convincing this thing being on a tight budget as it is, due to a small target audience, if it has to be filmed here, it would mean working with more or less non-existent budget. That will kind of a problem as well.

Lastly, it would feel like I'm just ripping off a curtain friend who's planning something about a Bulgarian urban fantasy himself. (Yes, that means you, now finish the thing so we can play already!)

That's about that for now then. (Also, is it me or am I using a lot of brackets in this post?)

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Themes

Ideas for themes of the show.

1. Magic vs Mundane

1.1. The magical community's view on the rest of humanity

Easy enough, and used in some way or another in almost all urban fantasy, so why not include it here? However, since this will be presented, as already stated, from the point of view of the people and beings who are already part of the supernatural and magical community, the main point of this theme is showing how people who dabble into the supernatural view "normal" reality.

Different members of the community will most likely feel resentful of mundane humanity, believe themselves to be superior to them or feel outright hostile. An important thing to note is that in the concept of the magical beings wanting to actually be human and normal should probably be all but absent. It should portray the community as perhaps not the happiest or most well adjusted of people, but still enjoying their own supernatural nature.

1.2. Mundane reactions to the magical community

So how do normal human beings react when being exposed to the hidden magical side of life? I admit I do not have anything solid on this point, although there are some obvious choices:
- Outright denial. Unless someone is continuously exposed to the fact that magic exists, they will try to convince themselves that the guy they just saw vanish in plain sight has probably just slipped into a side alley or something.
- Hostility. There probably would be groups of mundane humans trying to hunt down the magical, for whatever reason suits them best. However they should be presented with having very little to no understanding of the actual workings of magic or even the way the community is structured. Hunters of the supernatural should be portrayed as fairly inept at dealing with magic, but still being able to do some damage if they corner someone.

However, unless something really really obvious happens right in front of them (and as I pointed out in the general information, magic should not be portrayed with having very obvious effects), humans will generally never be exposed to the magical or supernatural. Another reason for this is....

2. Secrecy

Second theme should be that of keeping secrets, be they secrets within the community itself, keeping the community secret from the normal world or even the secrets to the way the world and reality truly work.

2.1. Secrets within

Occultists, magicians and other such sorts are usually very secretive people and don't enjoy sharing their knowledge with others, especially with people who could actually use this knowledge.

2.2. Secrets of reality

Most people who are into magic and the occult and are serious members of the community would probably have at least basic understanding of how magic works, but should rarely have the privilege of knowing deeper secrets outside their own field of expertise.

Note: This, however, should not be taken to extremes like in Unknown Armies, where 99% of the Occult Underground usually either knows nothing about how magic works or what they know is screwed up and deformed versions of the metaphysical laws that truly govern reality.

People who have truly devoted their lives, minds and sometimes soul to seeking out the Truth, would probably have some very detailed knowledge of how reality works, making them extremely dangerous people and magic practitioners.

2.3. Keeping secrets from others

I am outright stealing the metaphor of the Sleeping Tiger from Unknown Armies for this one.

You and three people you hate, and who hate you in return, are all in a room with a huge, sleeping tiger in the middle of it. From time to time, the tiger yawns, stretches it's paws and touches one of you, but for the most part if you stay really quiet, it will not wake up and rip all of you to shreds.

The sleeping tiger is normal human society.
(I am paraphrasing this here, it's explained better in the UA books)

What this means is that one of the first things you learn in the magical community is that you should keep your head down, if you want to keep it. Now, in UA there was the organization called The Sleepers, who's main job was to make sure occultists and magical types don't cause too much noise and attract attention to magic. It's a nice idea, sure, but I don't really feel like having it in this, so for the most part the magical community in any town or city would be expected to keep it's own members in check and make sure the tiger doesn't get too suspicious of what's going on around it.


This post became a bit too long, so I'm ending this here, however there will be more on the subject of the themes the show should cover.

Friday, 7 May 2010

General information about the project

Ok then, let's get started! All of this is just the basic ideas for this imaginary show, so don't be surprised if a lot of stuff is left unmentioned.

The Premise

For a few months or so I have been thinking about just how awesome it would be to have an urban fantasy TV series, that tries to do things a bit differently then what is out there.

My main problem with most shows going on right now (and ones I've watched in the past) like Supernatural, all these vampire TV series and stuff like that is that most of it is shown trough the perspective of a "normal" person or people who somehow ends up in a supernatural world.

Now, while this has been done before and has been shown to work alright, it kind of gets boring for me. So the main "selling point" so to speak of this would be the fact that from the very start of the show, all the main characters will already be a part of this supernatural world they inhabit. I will get into more detailed ideas I have about the premise in later posts.

The Setting

So yeah, Urban Fantasy. Considering that something like this will be on a very tight budget (due to the fact that there is really no way to pitch this sort of thing as a successful mainstream show) it would need to keep things a bit low key.

This means that while magic WILL be a part of the show, magical beings such as goblins, dragons, vampires and such should probably be kept out of it. Same thing goes for flashy magical effects, which would most certainly look really really cheesy.

This is why my main inspiration for this is the tabletop roleplaying game Unknown Armies (check the Inspirations section below). In it, using magic you can do some really far out stuff, but most of it usually does not include throwing around fire and lightening or summoning huge and fantastical beings.

Inspirations

The main inspiration for this is, as I already mentioned, the tabletop RPG Unknown Armies. While it would take a while for me to describe the thing in detail, it is basically a game where the characters are part of a very loose society of magicians and occultists known as the Occult Underground. The setting is the modern world, but with a strange mix of post-modern thinking, occultism, conspiracy theories and all sorts of general weirdness all rolled up into one.
Magic in the setting is mostly done either trough being obsessed to the point of madness in a very specific aspect of life (books, drinking, money, taking risks and so on) and using the power of your will to bend or break reality in such a way to make impossible things true, simply because to your warped psyche they HAVE to be true, or trough channeling so called Archetypes in society like The Mother, The Warrior, The Demagogue, The Rebel and such. This grants you powers related to that archetype if you act like it, surround yourself with symbols related to it and so forth.
Since I'm lazy to post links to it, just search it in Wikipedia or Google, it will give you a lot of information

Another inspiration for this is the TV series turned book Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. The original TV show is pretty close to what I am imagining here, mostly due to the fact that besides Mathew, the rest of the characters are already very well acclimated to the strangeness of London Below and you start feeling like you are a part of it, not like an outside observer (which is what my main idea for this whole thing is)

A third inspiration is also, to a lesser extent, the comic book The Invisibles by Grant Morrison, mostly for the same reasons as Neverwhere above, plus the fact that the whole thing is very very surreal and sometimes consider an inspiration for Unkown Armies.

Oh and the comic book Phonogram. If you strip off the pretentious music wankery, the whole thing is basically an Unknown Armies campaign.

This is about it for now.

Introductions are in order a.k.a. What's this all about?

Edit: As detailed in a later post titled "Let's try this again..." this has now been redone as a general journal for me to write down stuff that comes into my mind. However I will leave this and the rest of the old posts here for completeness sake.

My name is Jenx. I will be using this blog to write down ideas for a "probably-never-going-to-happen" TV series set in an urban fantasy setting.

While I am not really sure what I am hoping to achieve with this blog, I figured it could use as a hub for people to, hopefully, share ideas and comments about this. Who knows, some day, somehow, something might come out of this.

Now, of course I could easily just make this into a comic book, but really - that's doing it the easy way. I find it a lot more interesting to speculate about this as a TV series.