Heli

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Submitted NPC.png This article covers a submitted NPC.

Submitted non-player characters have been fleshed out in detail and are ready for review by the other developers. Once they have been reviewed and agreed upon, they become accepted NPCs.


Fluff

You open your eyes.

In her thick, fur-lined sleeping bag, Heli is moving. Her breath fogs the dawn air, rhythmic, as she whispers to herself, ecstatic,

“Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.”

Her fire-axe lies to one side of her. The little stove, a relic of the long-forgotten security-guard inhabitant of the ruined booth, is nothing but embers.

“Yes. Yes. Yes.”

Her arm shifts, moving up and down beneath the blankets, clumsy and fumbling. She keeps her back turned to you.

You don’t let her know you’ve heard her. Instead, you lie back, gazing up at the cracked concrete roof in the grey morning light, and wait for her to reach climax.

“Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.”

A sudden wind wails through the fractured buildings, and across the deserted car park. A scattering of snow tumbles down through the booth window.

A stifled sob.

“Slut.”

She repeats the word, dragging it out, emphasising the ‘t’, with a masochistic pleasure.

“Slut. You slut. All your fault. Now there’s only snow and ice. Won’t be forgiven. He won’t listen to you. When you hear Him speak, when you think you Hear him, it’s only your own head, trying to convince yourself…fucking slut. It’s all over. There’s no point to…to any of this.”

Heli’s body shifts. She rises out of the sleeping bag, a fragile, lithe silhouette against the dawn. Tugging on her boots. Slipping into her coat. Her gloves remain untouched by the shattered television, on the counter.

Then she steps outside, into the cold.

Quietly, you raise your head over the booth window.

Heli crouches, stooped in the snow, in the very centre of one of the car park lanes. Her naked hands are buried in white, and she rubs them together feverishly, rubbing them into crimson rawness, as if trying to rid them of some unseen blemish.

Basic Description

Heli, about seventeen years old, has spent all of her life in the ‘care’ of an ultra-Protestant couple, the Eggums, who believed that man’s sin brought about the Collapse. Whenever she misbehaved, Heli would be beaten, locked in the attic, forced to go without food – and even suffer worse atrocities at the hands of her step-father.

If the player notices that something is wrong with the smiling, strained Eggum family, they can opt to rescue Heli (either using force, persuasion, lies, or sneaking, of course) and take her along with them. Heli, grim, haunted by the notion that she is inescapably flawed – inescapably damned – sees herself only as a sinner in the eyes of a stern, patriarchal God, and treats her physicality as something to be ashamed of. If allowed to, this delicate, skinny adolescent will carry with her a red fire-axe.

Once the player begins to learn about the possibility of the fabled group of world-saving scientists, Heli’s outlook will alter; she’ll begin to take on the idea of a merciful God, and a vaguely-defined happy ending. She’ll become more carefree, almost childlike, dreaming of salvation – and the closer the player gets to the endgame, the happier Heli becomes.

If she makes it to the endgame…she becomes overwhelmed with horror and despair. Stealing formaldehyde from the scientists’ enclave, she runs out to the beach and forces herself to drink it. The player can prevent her from doing so with a speech check – however, she will fall into a near-silent despondency from which she’ll never recover.

Aims

Kaarnyr Vhok’s forum post actually got me thinking about ways to slightly, subtly amp up the player’s motivations and give them an explicit, in-game sense of the rise-and-fall of hope and despair. And it did occur to me that echoing it through an NPC might be the best way to do it (though the feasibility of this depends on the manner of parties in the game). I was also interested in doing a relatively young character who’s far from being an irritating Imoen or a whimsical JRPG schoolgirl creation – whose relationship to the PC is a disturbed, uncertain surrogate-parent/self-hating, repressed taboo Lolitan sexual awakening thing. The PARPG equivalent of romances.

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