Saturday, November 26, 2016

Characters and backstory from Schism

[Some description of the characters that appeared in the story Schism]


Most of the team

The superhero team is less thought out so I can get through listing four out of five of them in a paragraph. Paladin is the leader. The Knights Errant and Erratic are brother and sister respectively. Erratic chose which was which. Squire, as her name suggests, prefers support roles.


Page's name suggests she's the lowliest of the bunch, but it's actually playing with words. There's no official second in command, but if there had to be one everyone, except perhaps Page herself, would immediately agree it was Page. She has some confidence issues, but that's pretty much her only particular weakness. (As opposed to general weaknesses like reacting badly to inhaling water or having bullets hit you at high speeds.)

She picked “Page” because it fits with the team theme while also suggesting one of her defining traits: she loves books. She'll use the internet, and every book she owns has a digital backups and at least two non-backup digital copies (one on the teams computer system, the other travels with her in case she needs to look something up in the field), but she loves the feel of a book in her hands and the smell of aged parchment.

She's a scholar in her own right, and she's the “witch” that Tinker told Mishap to kill.

She doesn't use that word to describe herself. She has nothing against self-described witches, but she doesn't feel like the word fits her. Sure, the etymology is uncertain, but there are suggestions and hints and . . . that's not her. It's not the way she approaches magic.

If you ask her what she is, she'll say she's shooting for “wizard” but isn't convinced she's got the wisdom thing down yet. (She might never feel like she's achieved wisdom, and if she did that might be a sign she's not so wise. There's always room for improvement, after all.)

If you ask her what to call her, beyond “Page”, she'll point out that “spell caster” is quite literal, “magician” and “magic user” are both general catchalls, and there are a myriad of addition options for those with some imagination.


The Villains

Background leading up to Schism

The team began to fracture when Tinker shouted the order, “Kill the witch,” to Mishap in the middle of a battle. No one is really sure where that came from. Yes, the opportunity presented itself, but he hasn't ordered anyone else to kill or that anyone else be killed.

After Mishap didn't kill Page, he got on her case about not being up to the task of being a villain. Mishap was generally paired off against Page anyway, and Tinker kept pushing her to use greater violence than she was willing to and berating her for not being committed to the cause when she didn't.

Mishap probably could have made a persuasive argument that Tinker was the one with fucked up priorities since their brand of villainy was thievery and they had never gone for attacks that would do lasting harm. Then again, so could any of the others, and they didn't.

She quit the team.

Schism is the third time that her old team has bumped into her since she quit, which is why she brought up the possibility they were following her. The “shoving at a distance” occurred the second time they all ran into each other, and was during a fight with the heroes.


Tinker is a tech villain and all of the team's equipment, including his ray guns, are things he personally made.

As for his personality, Tinker started off seeming downright egalitarian. Maybe it was being the undisputed leader, maybe it was because his team was one person short of all male, maybe something else, but as time went on he started letting how he really felt show more and more and how he really felt on the inside was not a pretty sight.

Only two sorts of people call Page a witch, for example. The first are people who don't know much about Page. The second are people who want to evoke another word while having, “I'm not a misogynist,” cover. Tinker knows Page very well, since her team has been his primary opponent long enough for mountains of opposition research.

Also, there's a reason Mastodon thinks Mishap would have been justified shooting Tinker in the back. The same doesn't really hold true for the others. The male members haven't had to put up with the same shit.


Multiplicity can be in many places at once. The down side is that he can't become stronger by doing so. If there are two of him they'll each be at half strength. Three and they're at one third strength. He wishes he could divide the strength unevenly because he doesn't like the fact that, even though he's significantly stronger than the average person after several divisions every instance of him could be beaten by an ordinary untrained child. He'd like to keep at least one version at half strength, but his power doesn't work that way.

Then again, he's not there for the combat. There are plenty of ways to make use of a horde of people even when they do lack physical strength to an extreme degree. He can loot a place about as fast as someone with hyperspeed, provided the loot isn't too heavy (he does not do gold) and in a world where so much can be done with keystrokes, he often doesn't need much strength.

He hates making decisions, and so is perfectly content to follow the leader without question, and is fond of the path of least immediate resistance. He doesn't think ahead beyond how he'll spend his take, and so often makes things harder than they need to be because he won't invest a small effort now to forestall a large effort later.


Pathfinder always knows the quickest way anywhere. Drop him in a place he's never been before and he'll intuitively know every shortcut and never hit a dead end unless he wants to. He's also somewhere between free runner and traceur (parkour practitioner in the purest sense.) He can be as efficient and fast as possible when he needs to be, but he likes the flourish and inefficiency to be found in free running even though traceurs tend to look down on that (“There are no flips in parkour!”)

Mishap was the only other one on the team who shared his love of movement, but even though they were longtime running partners they were never really friends. Pathfinder isn't big on getting close to people.

He also isn't big on hurting people. He joined a team of thieves, not of thugs. If Mishap had preformed the ordered killing he would have turned on the entire team then and there, but since she didn't (and since no one else seemed to be escalating violence) he thought the team could temper their leader's newfound bloodlust and go back to normal or, after Mihap left, something resembling it.


Mastodon has his name because, well . . . He's got tusks, but he keeps them filed down to avoid unwanted attention. He has fur, but he shaves it so he can appear like a vaguely normal person. Why he has super-strength isn't really clear since a human sized Mastodon wouldn't be that strong and a human shaped one would likely be even less so.

He doesn't talk about how he got that way. He doesn't talk much at all.  Schism easily has him speaking more in one encounter than he did for the two months leading up to it.

Usually he's monosyllabic, which leads to various people dismissing him as a dim-witted oaf. Since he doesn't try to correct that, the reputation tends to stick.

He is, however, intensely loyal to his few friends and will use words to defend them every bit as much as super strength. He tries to respect boundaries, which is why his response to, “Are you following me?” was more than, “No.” Also he felt really guilty for not having spoken up sooner. Like, say, when things were at the level of micro-aggressions from Tinker, the team was fully functional, and no one had even thought of suggesting killing anyone.

Mishap was his only friend on the team, though all it would take for Pathfinder to become his friend would be for Pathfinder to want it. Mastodon's willing, but he's not going to pressure someone into a friendship they don't desire.


Mishap came to magic through natural talent, and she does consider herself a witch. She's also well aware of why Tinker started using that particular word to describe Page. As far as she's concerned it's a completely different word when he uses it, and there's no confusion because she'd never use Tinker's version of the word.

As her name suggests, she's good at making things go wrong. She can make the most nimble person trip and fall, the best written code crash, the most finely tuned machine sputter and die. Through refinement of her innate powers she's learned to do it with a great deal of control, and even do it to things she didn't originally know existed. Notably, she can cause failure in the spells of others. If she has the energy and attention to spare, and time, she can cancel any spell Page casts.

Page can do the same to her, though she comes to it via entirely different means. That means that when they face off, which they usually did when the two teams clashed, their magics cancel out absent deception or distraction. The results are physical fights where each is trying to sneak in magic while trying to be vigilant against the other doing the same.

The “Kill the witch” moment was when Page had her attention elsewhere and was completely unprepared to counter a magical attack from Mishap. If not for the order Mishap probably could have made use of the fact, but the order left her frozen in shock. Also pissed off at someone who very much was not Page.

Even so, she tried to stay on the team and make things work.  There were two things that stopped that from happening.  One was that Tinker's misogyny started to show more and more.  The other, which was presumably related, is that he kept on demanding greater levels of violence and berating her when she didn't deliver.

Later demands of greater levels of violence were more physical in nature as opportunities to get a sure magical hit in on Page tend to be both rare and impossible to predict ahead of time.

After she left the team, Tinker attempted to do the killing himself. Fortunately Mishap happened to have an unexpected front row seat for that clash. That was when Mishap “shoved” him from a distance. No one else really knew what was going on, so neither team knew that Tinker had tried kill Page.

Mishap might be the only one who noticed that Tinker wasn't trying to pressure any of the boys into changing their styles and is definitely the only one to know that Tinker has only ever personally gone after (in a lethal kind of way) the person he couldn't get her to harm.

No comments:

Post a Comment