Preview: Denizens of the Plex, Grand Finale

So obviously I took a week off. Officially, I took the week of Thanksgiving off to celebrate with my family. Off the record, I ran into a road block and was too lazy to push through it. In researching the final type of character I had planned, the transient, there was more depth to it than I originally thought. In a nutshell, transients tend to be defined by their work ethic. Some travel to find work, some travel to find an audience for their work, and some travel to avoid work altogether. I decided that rather than trying to pack all of these into one character type it would be better to split them into three distinct types. So without further ado…

This series of previews is designed to introduce newcomers to Chronoplex. In this, the eleventh – and final – entry in a series about typical characters found in the Plex, we explore a triple play of transients.

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The Busker

Description: Acrobats, animal trainers, caricature artists, clowns, contortionists, dancers, singers, fire eaters, fortune-tellers, jugglers, magicians, mimes, puppeteers, snake charmers, storytellers, and sword swallowers. While they are all vastly different from one another, they all share one important quality: they are all street performers, otherwise known as ‘buskers.’

The Plex has no mass communication. While radio and television transmissions function within chroneurisms there is no way for signals to transmit between chroneurisms. And although some chroneurisms are large enough that they could support local media programming, manufacturing limitations in the Plex makes the production of radio and television receivers slow and costly. Only the very wealthy are able to afford the equipment, which makes public broadcasting impractical at best. Because of this, buskers play an important role in Plex society; they are a source of entertainment for an audience that is positively starving for it. A talented busker entering a new Plex community can expect a warm welcome, complimentary accommodations, a hot meal and a decent take after each performance, all luxuries not afforded to most other spanners.

But as much as buskers are welcomed into tempor communities, they are still outsiders and are usually not treated as equals. A busker’s complimentary room is not in someone’s home or in a nice hotel, it is a trailer or servants’ quarters set aside for ‘the talent.’ A busker’s hot meal is not in a fine restaurant, it is a plate of food doled out on the back step of the local pub. And a busker’s take at performances is not all his own; most communities claim a percent of the proceeds as tax for the right to perform openly. Communities may want buskers to entertain them, but they don’t necessarily want them to stay.

Relationships: Buskers are the epitome of the adage ‘alone in a crowded room.’ A busker may spend his time among throngs of people, but few of them want anything to do with him after the performance. To stem the tide of loneliness this can bring about, buskers actively seek out traveling companions. Buskers’ crowd-pleasing personalities make them easy to get along with (although they are, perhaps, a bit over-the-top), but companions need to be ready to keep on the move to find a new audience.

Spanning: Buskers tend to span frequently by necessity. Crowds quickly tire of the same act, so buskers must stay on the move to support their chosen profession. However, traveling with a busker can be a frustrating ‘hurry-up-and-wait’ pace. They quickly move to a new location, stop for performances, then quickly move on again.

Talent Focus: Buskers benefit most from charm and agility with a secondary focus on awareness and savvy. Buskers have to be able to hold an audiences attention and be able to identify when it’s time to move on.

Buskers should have an authority level personal pursuit in their chosen act. In most cases, buskers have practiced their act for the better part of their lives and they can perform without really having to think much about it.

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The Drifter

Description: Some spanners don’t really have an agenda. They aren’t out to pursue career goals; they aren’t out in search of a particular person or object; they aren’t out for money or glory or adventure; they’re just… out. These temporal drifters have no possessions, no money, no attachments and no home. And in most cases, that’s just the way they like it.

In many ways drifters are the purest form of spanner. They travel from chroneurism to chroneurism simply for the sake of shooting the next tube. Drifters tend to be less-than-welcome in tempor communities. They survive off of handouts and whatever goods they can scavenge. Occasionally a drifter will cross the line between scavenger and thief, but most drifters try to keep their noses clean. So many people object to their lifestyle that most drifters feel it ill-advised to invite more calumny and consternation.

Although drifters have a questionable reputation, there is also an odd attraction about them. Because they span so frequently and reach so many destinations, drifters have a lot of life experience and are famous for their ‘road stories.’ Even the most hardened opponents of the drifter lifestyle find themselves quickly enrapt in a good drifter road story.

Relationships: Drifters are often referred to as “gentlemen of the tubes.” They have a very pleasant, easygoing demeanor that puts most people at ease. This makes them fairly enjoyable traveling companions in the short term. Long term, however, people they travel with can become rather tired of drifters’ constant pandering him for handouts.

Spanning: Getting a drifter to span is like asking the wind to blow. It’s going to happen, probably sooner than later. Getting a drifter to stay put is the tricky part. Drifters are use to completely untethered freedom, so the idea of waiting on someone is difficult for them to wrap their head around.

Talent Focus: Drifters benefit from savvy and endurance with a secondary focus on charm and will. Drifters maintain a very ‘take what you can get’ attitude to life, living off of what they can find and what they can coerce from others. And although they can depend largely on the kindness of strangers, they also hold fiercely to their free and independent lifestyle.

Drifters benefit greatly from at least an enthusiast level personal pursuit related to travel and it is recommended that they have the maximum amount of life experiences. Drifters own nothing except for their own memories of their travels, so it’s best if they have a lot to draw from.

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The Hobo (Chrobo)

Description: ‘Decide your own life’; ‘respect the local law’; ‘try to be a gentleman at all times’; and ‘always try to find work, especially jobs nobody wants.’ These are the guiding principles of hobo spanners. Hobos, or ‘chrobos’ as some prefer, are proud migratory workers who traverse the Plex in search of work.

While there have always been a few spanning workers in the Plex, chrobos didn’t exist as a group until the Great Jeet Rush. Jeets who weren’t lucky enough to claim any land (and there were many who didn’t) were left with no home, no money, and no purpose. Some spanned their way back to their home chroneurisms, but many, having had their first taste of the freedom of spanning, didn’t want to return and opted to find work where it was needed. With so many new communities being built, short term labor jobs were plentiful. Soon a whole new culture of spanning migrant workers was born.

The term chrobo was, of course, adapted from the linnie term ‘hobo,’ a word that defines a similar lifestyle led by many linnies of the early 20th century. A number of other elements were adopted from linnie hobos as well. The chrobo guiding principles are an abbreviated version of the ethical code followed by hobos. And much like linnie hobos, chrobos developed a unique style of music that incorporated local melodies with the steady rhythm of a shanty or worksong. But most relevant to other spanners was the development of chroboscript. This system of symbols, inspired by linnie hobo code, was originally developed as a means of providing direction for fellow chrobos, but was soon adopted and refined by all spanners. With a few carefully carved or chiseled symbols spanners could leave notes for those who followed telling, for example, where to find a good meal or warn of a mean dog. While frowned upon by the TPA as an abuse of the Temporal Preservation Act, chroboscript has gone a long way toward leading spanners through the often-unforgiving linnie landscape.

Relationships: Chrobos tend to be loners most of the time. They go where there is work to be done and stay long enough to see a job through. Traveling in the same circles as they do, chrobos often cross paths with each other, so there is a level of camaraderie among their own kind. Chrobos don’t mind traveling with other spanners, but they are seldom as at-ease as they are when among their own.

Spanning: Chrobos span when they have to to find work and they don’t like to leave until a job is done. Since some jobs can last weeks or even months, this can make traveling with others difficult to impossible. However, if the job itself travels, then a chrobo will follow where it goes.

Talent Focus: Chrobos benefit most from a primary focus on strength and endurance with a secondary focus on agility and will. Chrobos are laborers, plain and simple. They have to be strong enough to do their job and tough enough to see it through to the end.

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Thanks for following my progress on Chronoplex. Check back in two weeks when we start a brand new series of previews focusing on the major population centers of the Plex. 

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