03 August 2012

Candycreeps: Part 1 - Setting History

This is the first part in an ongoing series on Candycreeps. Part 2 and Part 3.

Candycreeps is a game about playing kids in school, potentially from Kindergarten through graduation from high school. All kinds of kids. From cute kids, to creepy kids, magical kids, dead kids, robot kids, half-forgotten experimental kids. Well, you get the idea. All kinds of kids, at a unique school for this diverse student body: the Pembrigan Academy.

The setting of Candycreeps is quirky and darkly amusing. Everything centers around FarneyCo, a conglomerate that exists somewhere between Disney and the Umbrella Corporation (there may not be much distance between those two). The origin of the mascots lay in synergy between the FarneyCo theme park and genetic engineering divisions.

After numerous lucrative lawsuits from parents of children that were disturbed to see their favorite characters remove their heads during mandated breaks, an enterprising executive came up with the brilliant idea to remove the need for all of this removing of clothing. Instead FarneyCo would modify people that no one would miss into Permanently Outfitted Park Personalities (POPP, or Pops, for short). In the classic fashion of mad science meeting economics, it all went horribly wrong. When the Pops started to breed children that carried their unique traits, they staged a full-scale armed revolt against what were effectively their overlords, FarneyCo. Pops are now a familiar sight (circa 2032 CE), though they still suffer from some discrimination and stereotyping.

The next society altering event, unintentionally caused by FarneyCo, was the introduction of creeps. A government mandated inspection of a FarneyCo facility containing abandoned secrets (read as: horrifying crimes against humanity) went a little sideways. None of the folks staffed there at the time aware of the secret labs beneath the Crowley City facility, and the man brought in to supervise the inspection, the one man who knew about the labs, decided that some secrets were better left unknown. Or perhaps to end his 90 years with a bang. Really, no one knows, but he did detonate the facility and much of downtown Crowley City. A consequence from this explosion was unknown and experimental compounds from the secret labs (which were not completely destroyed) leaking out. Which in turn lead from that is the return of the dead to society, known as creeps.

Luckily for everyone they aren't after brains, but many did want their things that had previously been distrubuted to relatives back. It was clearly ruled that unless you specifically make provisions in your will regarding your returning from beyond the grave to keep your things, then they were not your things anymore. With a sudden influx of population that wasn't really picky about where they live, accommodations had to be made. The advent of functional, though remarkably bulky, anti-gravity technology gave some mad engineer/city planner a fantastic idea: hollow out the area under a city, install anti-gravity, then construct a city underneath the original city to allow for shared utilities, just with the orientation of the populace and buildings a little reversed. It was a success(ish) and those that lived underneath became known as Cappadocians, or Caps, for short. Even some of the living moved down there to enjoy the benefit of significantly lower rents.

It didn't take long for these significant changes to the great patchwork quilt of humanity to attract those who had spent most of history hiding in the shadows to come out. Since the dead had returned and anthropomorphic animals were a thing, it wasn't too much of a stretch to accept boogeymen, vampires, werewolves, witches and whatever else have you. What I'm saying is these times, they are a changin'.

In the middle of all of this, almost quite literally, is the Pembrigan Academy. Founded in the early 20th century by an eccentric tycoon that was spurned by the elite boarding schools of the East coast, the Pembrigan Academy was an amalgam of elite boarding school and manly finishing school (what with the steer roping and general outdoorsiness). It served as an alternative to those schools for quite a while. Named after a particular corgi crossbreed created by the founder, the Pembrigan (a portmanteau of Pembroke and Cardigan), the corgi features prominently in school activities as the mascot (the Fightin' Corgis), hazing rituals (the Running of the Dogs) and apparently just being everywhere and possibly a little vicious (and adorable! But mostly vicious).

The history of the Pembrigan Academy intersects with the rest of the setting during the explosion in Crowley City, where the Pembrigan Academy also happens to be situated. Pretty much adjacent. It didn't go so well for the Academy. Through generous donations by FarneyCo, that had nothing to do with some desperately need good PR, the school was able to rebuild and reopen. A small engineering snafu regarding the construction of the sports arena on top of the Cap school underneath for orphans lead to a newly diversified student body. The Prembrigan Academy was forced to accept all of the students that would normally attend the now rather crushed school.

Descriptions of the Pembrigan Academy give a colorful look at the life within the hallowed halls, with descriptions of the student body and social groups (including sample students and secret societies), sports and clubs, traditions, classes, locations, etc. Even with this detail, it doesn't ever feel like there isn't any white space to fill with your own ideas. Just a presentation of strong themes to build from and give a solid foundation of what life is like. The expectation for the PCs seems to largely be The Breakfast Club, but with tails, magic and dead people. It is clever and cute, without ever taking itself too seriously or getting too caught up in how clever it is.

Next week: the Pembrigan Academy.