Latest Update: 6 November 2014
For some reason, Drunkard's Walk seems to be very popular. I can't imagine why. <grin> Anyway, one of the things about its popularity is that it seems to engage the imaginations of the readers very thoroughly. So much so, in fact, that they want to know far more about Doug Sangnoir and his world(s) than I really have space or inclination to put in the stories themselves.
This less a tribute to my writing, really, than to the incredibly creative and imaginative people with whom I've gamed over the last almost thirty years, most of whom I'm still gaming with today. Warriors' World, the milieu from which Doug springs, is and always has been a collaborative world, built from the most creative impulses of well over a dozen highly engaged and motivated players and GMs. It's no wonder that the fabric of the world behind the Drunkard's Walk is so rich and textured — there's a lot there to see. And my readers want to see more than just the hints and snippets I throw them in the stories.
Thus, this page of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). As I write this introduction in the middle of October 2004, the list of questions — almost all of them submitted by readers of the DW Forum — is extensive, and I haven't written answers to all of them yet. But what I have finished, I'm now putting up on the Web. And as time passes, I hope to address the remaining (and new) questions a little at a time, adding them to this page as I do. So don't think of this page as a static repository of information. It's going to grow and develop as time goes on.
On behalf of both myself and all the players from Warriors over the past few decades, thank you all for your interest and your enthusiasm.
Now let's get started.
— Bob Schroeck
Table of Contents
- Warriors' World and the Warriors
- What is Warriors' World?
- What is Warriors International? What's a Warrior?
- What other branches are there?
- Who are its members?
- What's the difference between "Reserve" and "Inactive" members?
- What is Doug's role in the Warriors?
- What is the Mansion?
- What is Warriors Academy?
- Were there any metahumans in Warriors' World before the 20th Century?
- What level of technology has Warriors' World achieved?
- Has Warriors' World had any contact with aliens?
- Where can I learn more about Warriors' World and the Warriors themselves?
- What are the terms you're using for the various kinds of supers?
- Are there superhero comics in Warriors' World?
- Why doesn't the word "superhero" exist in Warriors' World?
- GURPS International Super Teams
- What is GURPS International Super Teams?
- What is the relationship between Warriors' World and the IST World?
- What Warriors' World characters appear in IST?
- Where can I find official IST World merchandise/materials?
- Will IST ever get a second edition?
- Is there an official IST World version of Doug?
- Drunkard's Walk I
- What's the story about Haven? I liked that series!
- I've never heard of Valdemar, Velgarth and that kind of Herald. Tell me more.
- When in the Heralds timeline was Doug in Valdemar?
- What was the actual plot of Drunkard's Walk I?
- What did Doug learn or gain in Valdemar?
- Who is Delandra?
- Drunkard's Walk II
- In chapter 15, why didn't Madigan's bodyguard boomers go into her apartment and discover Doug there?
- Doug says at one point in the story that he doesn't drink alcohol. But he drinks ouzo with Lisa and wine with Madigan.
- Is the climax of Drunkard's Walk II based on the movie Unbreakable?
- Drunkard's Walk V
- Item X conflicts with Oh! My Goddess!
- When exactly in the Oh! My Goddess timeline does DW5 take place?
- Why aren't you using [Banpei/Velsper/Sigel/Hild/Chihiro/my favorite obscure character from volume 123 of the manga]?
- About Doug
- How do you pronounce his last name?
- What's Doug's bio?
- What was Doug's first use of his power, and what happened? (i.e.: What was his origin story?)
- Why does Doug have a problem with gods?
- Is Doug an author avatar?
- Has Doug ever learned to play any musical instruments?
- How do various artists (and their lawyers) react to Doug's use of their songs?
- Would he ever sell out and do commercials for iPods or their local equivalents?
- Is there really a Marvel Comics character based on Doug?
- If Doug was a big furry animal, what kind would he be?
- How many licks does it take for Doug to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
- About Doug's Powers
- What happens the first time Doug hears a song?
- Has any song ever automatically triggered Doug's power (is this possible?), or does it always take a conscious decision on his part?
- If Doug hears a song he's heard before (and had a positive connection to, and therefore, has a power for it), does it trigger his power?
- What, exactly, does Doug need to get a power from a musical work? (music + lyrics, music + some words, words + a beat, etc.)
- Does Doug get any powers from instrumental versions of songs?
- What happens if Doug hears a song while he is unconscious or asleep?
- Does whatever effect a song has last as long as the song actually lasts, or just as long as the lyrics are still going?
- Does the power match what the song lyrics really say, or what Doug thinks they say?
- If Doug's perceptions create the power, can the power change if his perceptions of the lyrics change? Or is the power "locked in" after it manifests for the first time?
- Can Doug get more than one power from one song?
- Can Doug get different powers from different versions/covers of the same song? If so, are the different powers related or can they be totally different?
- Does the same song in different languages have different powers?
- Do ballad songs trigger Doug's power, or are they safe?
- What about a song in a language Doug can't understand?
- If a specific song didn't work in his magic poor homeplane, could it work on a more magic rich plane, or if he tapped a node?
- If Doug could play a musical instrument, could he play and sing such that he'll get a power?
- What happens when Doug starts listening in the middle of a song? Or if a part of the song starts looping?
- What is "forcing" a song?
- What's a backfire?
- What can and can't Doug's improbability field do?
- How much control does Doug have over his powers?
- You mean Doug can't just "call home"?
- What's this about his touch enchanting objects "accidentally"?
- Wetter Hexe
- What's the deal with Wetter Hexe being a goddess?
- Okay, Hexe's a goddess. Which goddess is she?
- What does it mean when Celestial characters call Hexe "Stormsdaughter"?
- Just how powerful is Hexe?
- Does Hexe have worshippers?
- Magical Theory
- What is mana, how does it arise, can it be traced, etc.?
- What's a node?
- Do nodes exist in Warriors' World?
- Is there such a thing as counterspell or antimagic?
- What's this 'techno-magical' stuff? I thought technology and magic were mutually exculsive!
- What is "Combat Hyping"?
- Why does Doug use the metric system for everything but the occasional figure of speech?
- Does Drunkard's Walk cross over with any other fanfic series?
- Do any of the worlds that Doug visits exist as fictional works in Warriors' World?
- Fan Works
- Can I write Drunkard's Walk stories?
- No, no, I mean I want to write a Drunkard's Walk story and show it to you and maybe share it with other readers.
- Can I use Warriors' World characters in some story I'm writing?
- Do you accept artistic renderings of Doug's adventures or the characters he interacts with?
- Do you accept GURPS International Super Teams fan fiction?
- Creating Drunkard's Walk
- About Me
Q: What is Warriors' World?
A: "Warriors' World" is the name of a very large, very long-lived Villains and Vigilantes game world which has been home to as many as six different campaigns spanning one high school and two different college campuses (Rutgers University and Stevens Institute of Technology, both in New Jersey) since the early 1980s. Warriors' World is named for the central superteam in the game, the Warriors. The campaign was founded by a Rutgers student named Joab Stieglitz and some of his high school friends; he brought the Warriors and the campaign with him when he came to college, and that was when most of the current core group of players first joined. After a year of running Warriors at Rutgers, Joab bowed out as GM and Helen Allen (now Imre) took over with his blessings; eventually Joab's participation in the campaign dwindled away to nothing, leaving it entirely in the hands of the current group by 1986.
The campaign world spread to the campus of the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ as a side effect of Kat and Helen acquiring boyfriends (Joe and John, respectively) who attended that school. Thus was Warriors Beta born.
Among the other subsidiary campaigns have been the various branches of Warriors International (including one run using GURPS Supers) and a private superteam known as Strikeforce. Offshoots that were not set in the "canon" Warriors World universe include a variation on the Warriors called "U.N.I.T. Force" run using Champions rules, and of course the playtests for GURPS International Super Teams and IST Kingston. There have also been a number of convention games.
Obviously, Warriors' World is not the brainchild of a single person. Almost all the players have been GMs at one time or another, and each has added his or her own details and touches to the campaign setting. The result is a vast and intricately-textured tapestry of which we are most proud.
Q: What is Warriors International? What's a Warrior?
A: In Doug's home universe, the elite "super-police" of the United Nations are the Warriors — a team composed of some of the best and brightest metahumans found on that Earth (and the occasional alien, as well). They act as a permanent peace-keeping force, in theory enforcing both international law and the resolutions of the UN Security Council. In practice, the Warriors are reserved for matters involving other supers, or extreme and unusual circumstances. In general they do not involve themselves in matters that can be handled by conventional military or police forces, although this is not a hard-and-fast rule.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the U.N. saw an escalation of strategic weapons and metahuman military forces as a literal threat to the future of the world, and decided to do something about it. (The arrival in 1982 of a time traveler who brought with him proof that the proliferation of metahuman military forces contributed directly to World War III played no small part in this decision.) The course decided upon was the creation of its own metahuman "police". When the U.N. finally acted, it chose to seek an established, experienced (and most importantly indpendent) group rather than build one of its own from scratch — or worse, try to forge one out of volunteers or conscriptees from member nations' militaries.
The Warriors fit their criteria almost perfectly. Originally a private team based in New Jersey, the Warriors already had a large and powerful membership, with a surprisingly multinational cross-section, given its American base. Already known for its exploits, the group easily won the contract to act as the U.N.'s enforcers. They have retained that contract for almost 20 years now, as of this writing, expanding and contracting their membership and branch bases as the needs of international security dictated.
The various branches of the Warriors are referred to by Greek letters, with the primary (home) branch in England known as Alpha.
Q: What other branches are there?
A: At the moment, only Warriors Alpha is known to be active. Warriors Beta, based in Tokyo, disbanded toward the end of the 1990s and its members either resigned or transferred to Alpha. A Warriors Delta campaign, set in the Sinai peninsula, was created and one session run for it, back in the late 1980s or early 1990s. (That adventure was rewritten as a GURPS IST adventure for a convention around 1992, and then became my contribution to GURPS Supers Adventures not long afterward.) Another Warriors branch was created at some point by John "Skitz" Freiler, although nobody remembers too much about it; it might have been a second Delta branch, or it might have been Gamma. Within the context of the game world, neither of these two latter branches was ever formally disbanded, so as far as anyone is concerned, they're still out there doing their business quietly and efficiently, without bothering the home office in England much.
Q: Who are its members?
A: The current roster of the Warriors, specifically Warriors Alpha (the only active campaign at the moment), is:
|Active Members||Reserve Members||Inactive Members|
Wetter Hexe (Co-team leader, Field Commander)
Dwimanor (Co-team leader, Administrator)
Looney Toons (Security Chief)
Kat (Public Relations Officer)
Shadowwalker (Headmistress, Warriors' Academy)
Ai Zhao Min
|Retired/Resigned Members||Deceased Members||Pending Candidates for Membership|
Shockwave (possibly deceased)
WildFlyte I (KIA)
Technically, Shadowwalker is a reserve member because her Academy duties are presumed to occupy her full-time, but since she still lives at the Mansion and does about half of her work there, she is informally considered "active".
The "Jack" listed under "Deceased" is not Doug's childhood friend "Jack", of whom he makes occasional mention, but a cyborg member of Beta who in a moment of despair deliberately overloaded the atomic power cells of his bionics and vaporized himself.
The candidates and recruits other than Kamakiri whom Doug mentions in DW2 are jokes and references, and are not actually "game-canon".
Not much is remembered about the Delta and "Gamma" (?) branches mentioned above, but the surviving GM notes indicate that Brigid "Rhiannon" Daffyd was/is the commander of Delta.
Q: What's the difference between "Reserve" and "Inactive" members?
A: Reserve members do not stand active duty at the Mansion, do not deploy on non-critical missions, and are for all practical purposes private citizens. However, they retain their Warriors comm units and are expected to respond immediately to any alert that specifically activates them.
Inactive members are a step closer to being non-members. They have terminated their connections to the Warriors in everything but name. They can still be called up in emergencies, using more mundane communications, but they are not expected to be available at a moment's notice.
Q: What is Doug's role in the Warriors?
A: Doug is the Warriors' Security Chief — he oversees the day-to-day operations of the Warriors' powered infantry (who act primarily as "base guards" for the Mansion) as well as a dedicated security staff. His "duty station" is the so-called "TV room" — the main security office with its banks of monitors and communications station.
Q: What is the Mansion?
A: The Mansion is the Warriors' home/base — a sprawling Edwardian estate some miles outside of London, England which has been refitted as a proper headquarters for the world's premiere superteam. Its features include: reinforcing the structure, the addition of several levels of subbasements, a dedicated megaframe computer (which had achieved a level of pseudosentience during the late 1980s, but which lost it again after battle damage), a "danger room", temporary metahuman restraining and holding facilities, quarters for all Warriors (whether they choose to live there or not), and a force dome protecting the entire estate.
Q: What is Warriors Academy?
A: The Academy is a boarding school for young metahumans based in a separate building from the Mansion, but on the grounds of the estate. It was established to offer a standard education plus specialized, often individual, training to metahuman children whose powers have manifested early or are difficult to control. It has an obvious and admitted secondary goal of grooming its students for public service, whether that is in the Warriors or elsewhere. Tuition is reasonable and scholarships are available for those who need them.
Shadowwalker is the headmistress of the school. She acquired the position mainly because of her degrees and experience in special education, the field which she pursued before she joined the Warriors full-time. In addition to the more typical faculty (made up mostly of normals), various Warriors may occasionally be found teaching special classes.
At the current time, there hasn't been a lot of in-game development of the Academy. It has been established that there are at least a dozen students resident as of last count, including Kat and Dwimanor's six-year-old daughter, and their two pre-teen nieces, children of the only Mee sibling who does not seem to be a metahuman. Beyond that, not much has yet become game canon.
Q: Were there any metahumans in Warriors' World
before the 20th Century?
A: No one's really sure, although every historian has his pet candidates. Pretty much everyone agrees Rasputin had to have been at least a proto-metahuman, but beyond that, well, the topic can cause fistfights at academic conferences. The key problem is that nobody can really agree where (and how sharp) to draw the line between human and metahuman — a problem which has been plaguing professional sports since the 1950s. How fast can an Olympic runner go before he's too fast? How much can a competitive weightlifter lift before it's too much? A lot of people are uncomfortable putting an absolute upper limit on the levels of unenhanced human achievement, but by the same token a lot of people view using metahuman enhancements in sports as "cheating". Extreme cases are easy to figure out, but the border zone between is very fuzzy and few people want to look stupid trying to de-fuzz it. The identification of the metagenes in the 1980s has hurt almost as much as it has helped — fully a third of the world's top athletes could conceivably qualify as "training-enhanced" (no inherent powers, but possessing enough metagenes that excessive conditioning results in borderline metahuman physical abilities).
In any case, when it comes to arguing about historical figures, one historian's metahuman is usually another's extraordinary human. The frequency with which leaders such as Caesar, Alexander and Charlemagne have been assigned "enhanced charisma" or even mass mind control powers by fringe historians has somewhat discredited even legitimate efforts at "archaeological metabiology". As for more obvious powers (flight, power blasts, etc.), with the exception of some dubious Inquisition records, there appear to have been no metahumans of that level prior to the Metahuman Explosion of 1929. Of course, there are always those who say every religious figure back to the first Pharoah had to have been "just" a metahuman; Christ has been a favorite target, particularly among pre-Soviet Collapse Marxist-revisionist historians. (Although the Marxists had their own problems with even recognizing the more "spiritual" metagifts for a long time...)
Okay. That's the official story as known to the historians of Warriors' World. On the player/GM level, the answer is known to be "yes". There have been metahumans as long as there have been humans — in fact, because of the intimate connections between their genetic codings, it can be argued that human sapience is technically a metahuman ability!
Furthermore, the metahuman (and Warriors member) known as Skitz is a serial reincarnator — since the dawn of humanity he has been jumping from life to life, picking up new powers as he goes. It is entirely likely that he was one of the very first metahumans to appear, although he currently has no direct access to memories dating that far back. More recently, one of his previous incarnations was indeed Rasputin (see above), so that speculation (at least) is correct.
To complicate matters, though, Skitz has recently discovered that he is not alone. Apparently there exists another reincarnator like him, who has styled himself Skitz' nemesis. Little is known yet about this nemesis, but he/she appears to have been operating parallel to Skitz for at least several thousand years, if not longer.
Q: What level of technology has Warriors' World achieved?
A: Well, you should know that trying to pin down the tech level in a superhero world is like trying to eat jello with chopsticks. <grin> But I'll give it a try. Warriors' World is running about 30 years or more in advance of our state of the art in many areas. The UN infantry has powered armor. AIs and fully autonomous robots can be built with relative ease. Practical beam weapons are just starting to make their appearance in military arsenals. Forcefield technology is understood, although outside of the occasional gadgeteer it usually requires a large permanent installation and a dedicated power source. Computers are more powerful, the Net more interconnected; because of the presence of electropaths and superfolk who can turn into electricity, computer security is signficantly more sophisticated and capable. Viruses, worms and other malware are few, but those few are frightfully effective. There is almost no spam on the Net — some of those folks who can turn into electricity took exception to it and have made spamming personally dangerous for those who try.
Space travel technology is significantly advanced, thanks in part to the dozens of alien artifacts gathered over the years. (See below.) Earth hasn't quite come up with its own star drive technology yet, but it's a matter of "when," not "if". In the mean time, we have more than enough other races happy to foist their junker starships off on the new kids on the block. <grin>
Gravity technology had its "eureka" moment in the early 1980s, and by the middle 1990s there was a wide variety of commercial gravity products on the market. The number one manufacturer is the Anson Corporation, whose Gravmaster series of AG drives has revolutionized airline safety, off-road vehicles and cargo handling, just to name three fields. Despite their obvious feasibility, though, there are only a few flying cars — the FAA and similar bodies across the globe have vigorously resisted multiplying the number of flying craft in the air by a factor of a thousand or more...
Mechanical time travel is not really feasible at this time, although the occasional gadgeteer has come up with workable but unreproduceable devices. There is at least one metahuman known to possess time travel powers — a Rocky Horror Picture Show fan who goes by the predictable nom d'aventure of "Time Warp" (and who has courted Hexe on occasion). Doug has demonstrated time-related powers, between "Freeze Frame" and "Fly Like An Eagle". The metabiologists and paraphysicists believe it's just a matter of, well, time before they figure the whole mess out.
Basically, what we've got is classic comic book rubber science. Every power in V&V can be found as a device, which means that yes, we've got blasters of all descriptions, particle weapons, ice guns, you name it. Much of it has been around for a generation or more. Not all of it is mass-produced, though — isolated researchers/mutant geniuses/mad scientists/goofy gadgeteers frequently produce unique devices far above the local tech level. (I know I wrote a little bit about that somewhere in DW2.) Some of it can get reproduced, and goes into the world tech pool. Some of it just seems to work automagically, with no real explanation (at least in terms of current theory and practice). Such devices are subject to considerable research, both magical and mundane, to determine their operating principles. Sometimes such research is even successful. The DW version of the UN/Warriors have a warehouse chock full of toys taken off supervillains which have so far proven resistant to analysis and replication. When he was at home, Doug sometimes puttered around there.
Warriors' World in the Walk is somewhat different from the campaign world, and I really didn't lay it all out in detail when I started DW. But if you mix the usual tech of a supers world with a bit of real-world sensibility, you can get something of an idea of where things are. The main thing for me when writing is to give the sense of a world that is a tantalizing mix of the familiar and unfamiliar; wildly uneven tech levels across different fields is part of that.
Q: Has Warriors' World had any contact with aliens?
A: Earth, it seems, appears to be the galactic equivalent of the little convenience store inside the train station concourse. It's not exactly in the flow of traffic, but close enough that it's no trouble to go there once you're nearby. Aliens have been visiting the earth long enough and frequently enough that the folks who don't believe in them are the lunatic fringe, instead of the other way around. For instance, one of the big celebrities of the late 1980s was an AI robot probe from an alien civilization who hung around the planet photographing and interviewing people for a year or so before returning to deep space.
The Meeranon (a race of bipedal felinoids) have a long-standing trade agreement with the U.N.; although they are not a populous species and few of them actually reside on Earth, they are one of the most recognizable alien species to the average citizen. Individual members of another dozen or two races can be found on Earth at any given time; some are private citizens living quiet lives, while others are criminals on the run, and others are tourists and thrill-seekers who've come to see (or challenge!) Earth's unheard-of assortment of unique paranormals. The U.N. doesn't do anything much about these (except the criminals, who come under Warriors jurisdiction), although the suggestion has been made that a central alien registry bureau be formed. The subject is still being debated in the General Assembly.
In the mean time, the Warriors have frequent contact with other extraterrestrial (and extradimensional) civilizations, reports on which go right to the U.N. (and from there to the world at large).
Q: Where can I learn more about Warriors' World and the Warriors
A: Well, you don't have too many options. The campaign doesn't have much in the way of a Web presence at the moment. I do own the domain warriors-alpha.net, but there isn't much there except the framework for a website that I haven't done much work on since late 2002. I believe all the current players are online, but I'm not posting their names or addresses, just to save them from a) harrassment, and b) spam. Skitz and Hexe's players appear in my Forums every once in a while, but to the best of my knowledge they're the only members of the campaign other than myself who frequents them.
Q: What are the terms you're using for the various kinds of
A: Back when I first wrote up the WW timeline, I came up with a small set of classifications to identify the different varieties of supers, more or less in terms of their origins. A couple of these — "mutant" (born with powers) and "mutate" (capable of getting them under extraordinary stimulus) — I cribbed from the "encyclopedia" series that Marvel Comics was printing at the time. Another term came out of the existence of a table of powers in V&V that were "trained" or skills. Combine this with the borderline superhuman abilities of someone like Batman, and it seemed to me that there had to be some variety of metahuman who didn't normally express any abilities unless his body was trained beyond human maximums. I called this "training-enhanced" and posited "sub-critical" levels of the metagenes as their cause.
In addition to these there are mages, psis, and the "mechanics", whose powers all come from gadgetry, be it mundane or magical.
Q: Are there superhero comics in Warriors'
A: Yes. But they're not called that, and they're not the defining genre for comic books as they are in this world; they're just one of a hundred different niche products that come out in comic book form. The American comic book industry, in terms of the genres and topics it covers, is very fragmented and more closely resembles the manga industry of "real world" Japan than it does our America's comics.
Q: Why doesn't the word "superhero" exist in
A: "Super hero" is actually a trademarked term jointly owned by Marvel and DC and used to describe the "powered hero" genre they specialize in, as well as the characters in it. Specifically, the "super-" prefix for everything in this genre descends directly from Superman. However, instead of being the cultural icon he is in our world, Superman is a forgotten relic of the 1930s in Warriors' World, and had almost no influence on popular culture — and thus, the word was never coined.
Q: What is GURPS International Super Teams?
A: This is my first book, published in 1991 by Steve Jackson Games of Austin, TX. It is the "house campaign" for superhero roleplaying in GURPS — the Generic Universal RolePlaying System, also published by Steve Jackson Games.
Q: What is the relationship between Warriors' World and the
A: Warriors' World inspired GURPS International Super Teams. Here's how it happened. I joined the WW campaign when I moved to New Brunswick, NJ in late 1986. In 1987, because John "Skitz" Freiler had introduced me to GURPS, I started frequenting the Illuminati BBS — the pre-Net forerunner of sjgames.com. Along about 1988, I had grown dissatisfied with the lack of "history" in Warriors' World — there was at the time no coherent explanation of how the game world had gotten to the point shown in the games. So I wrote up a timeline which explained everything (in my opinion) and offered it to the then-current GMs. They turned it down, as they had their own ideas.
The timeline languished for a year or so, until SJGames started the playtest for the first edition of the GURPS Supers sourcebook. Steve Jackson Games ran playtests for their upcoming products out of the BBS, and being a BBS member let you get involved in the process. While playtest progressed, people started posting favorite "war stories" and characters from their superhero campaigns to the playtest board. One day, I posted the rejected timeline from Warriors' World. Less than 24 hours later, I had an email from a staff member at SJGames saying, "Would you write 10,000 words on this and let us use it? We don't like the world background we have." I did, they liked it, and it became the IST World chapter of GURPS Supers. And I was rewarded with a contract to write GURPS International Super Teams, which I completed in 1990 and which was released in April of 1991.
Not surprisingly, some characters from Warriors' World have counterparts in the IST World.
Q: What Warriors' World characters appear
A: A fair number, including some not yet mentioned in Drunkard's Walk (at least not as of Winter 2008-9). Argurous Astraph is Silverbolt. Witchwind was inspired by Hexe, but isn't really terribly close to her. Warrior is a character initially created by Joe "Dwimanor" Avins. Drifter was played by John D. Gold. Nightscream (mentioned in GURPS Supers and edited out of IST, but available on my website) is a highly variant version of Shadowwalker. Patchwork was an NPC I created as a "villain who isn't" plot McGuffin. Similarly, I created The Void as a villain for the campaign; she was even more dangerous under V&V. Janos "Poprock" Paproc, who appears in GURPS Supers as a sample character, was also a bad guy from Warriors' World, albeit under a different name.
Q: Where can I find official IST World
A: Good question. Both IST and IST Kingston (from Modern Myth Publishing) are long, long out of print. No additional materials were ever written for the world. (SuperTemps and Super Scum predate IST, and I incorporated them into it; they are not really IST-specific.) I have, of course, a page of IST materials here on my site, but they aren't "official". If there are any other official materials, I don't know about them.
Update: As of April 2007, IST is available for sale and download in electronic form from Steve Jackson Games' e23 division.
Q: Will IST ever get a second edition?
A: Yes. As of November 2014, I am in the process of outlining a 50-page PDF supplement with the working title of GURPS International Super Teams — The 25th Anniversary Edition with a guaranteed contract awaiting its completion. As the title might suggest, the release date is likely to be some time in 2016. This supplement will not be a from-the-ground-up second edition of IST, but a "what's new since 1990" extension of the original, with Fourth Edition updates where necessary.
Q: Is there an official IST World version of
A: Not yet. Many of the characters from Warriors' World made guest appearances in on form or another, as noted above, but Doug is not one of them. At the time I wrote IST, he was pretty much impossible to build in GURPS. That changed with the release of GURPS Fourth Edition in the summer of 2004 — it is now possible to model him (albeit for a monstrously huge number of points) in the system.
Q: Have you done that?
Q: Why not?
A: I've never needed to play Doug in GURPS.
Q: What's the story about Haven? I liked that series!
A: When I first started thinking up the Walk, Peggy and I were in the middle of Mercedes Lackey's mid- to late-1990s burst of productivity for Velgarth, the world in which her "Heralds of Valdemar" and "Vows and Honor" books are set (among other series). That locale being on my mind at the time, naturally, I imagined what would happen if Doug were to blunder into it. This was, in fact, the genesis of the Drunkard's Walk, and became its first Step when I decided that Doug would visit more than one world.
The reason I did not follow through and actually write more than an outline and a bit of setup for DW1 is because Mercedes Lackey's agent — and thus Lackey — are actively hostile to any form of electronic fan fiction set in her worlds. Now part of this is for a very, very good reason, a very valid reason. It's possible for a writer to lose control of their own creation — or lose some freedom to write what they want within their own creation — if they run into a particularly obnoxious fan author. This happened to Marion Zimmer Bradley, and the experience was a strong influence on Lackey. (You can see the story on one of Lackey's Q/A pages — the particular question/answer is almost at the bottom.) And part of it is for another good reason — it has to do with maintaining the author's copyrights and trademarks.
However... in my certainly under-informed opinion, I think the degree to which Lackey and her "support staff" go to quell any hint of Valdemar fanfiction on the Net is an excessive over-reaction to some admittedly bad events. Mercedes Lackey has had a lot of crap happen to her since she hit it big as an author, mostly because she hit it big as an author — SF/Fantasy fandom attracts far more than its fair share of crazies, and a lot of them targeted her and her husband. I'm not surprised that there was this almost-paranoid over-reaction. Yeah, some authors are even worse, and she did rein in her agent when he wanted to sue all fanfiction authors on the Net. Still, there's something hostile and Luddite-like about forbidding fanfiction in the greatest fan venue in history. Certainly other media sources have to date settled into a far less antagonistic relationship with fan creators, understanding that turning a blind eye to most of these efforts nets them both free advertising and greater consumer loyalty.
Anyway, that's enough sermonizing from me. If you want to see the matters at issue for yourself, here are links to Lackey's general fanfiction policy, as expressed for her fan organiztion "Queen's Own", and the release form(s) required for print-only fanfiction.
Update, Spring 2010: Mercedes Lackey has changed her stance on fanfiction, and as a result, DW1 is back on the table. It's not a high priority, to be honest, but I have restored it to the list of active projects.
Also, I note that a number of readers have gotten the idea that DW1 is already written in its entirety, and just has to be yanked out of an archive somewhere and slapped up on the Web/shot off to RAAC/posted on the FFML. Sorry, no. It is outlined, parts of it are written, and other parts are so vividly laid out in my head after almost a decade and a half of envisioning them that they are merely an afternoon's typing away from being written. But the entire story? At this moment it is less than 50K of text. When this project comes up on the writing rotation, it will probably be just as time-intensive as any other DW story.
Further Update, Fall 2012: Not only has Mercedes Lackey changed her stance on fanfiction, Drunkard's Walk I now has her explicit permission. In a thread in the cohtitan.com forums where this topic was being discussed, Lackey — in response to a query by prereader Logan Darklighter — specifically gave me permission (and encouragement, even!) to write DW1.
To which I responded, "Oh god, that means I have to write the damned thing now." <grin>
Q: I've never heard of Valdemar, Velgarth and that kind of Herald.
Tell me more.
A: I'll tell you where to read about them. Go to your local bookstore and visit their SF/Fantasy section. Look for the following titles (all by Mercedes Lackey). Or follow these links to their Amazon.com pages:
- Arrows of the Queen
- Arrow's Flight
- Arrow's Fall
- The Oathbound (Vows and Honor, Book 1)
- Oathbreakers (Vows and Honor, Book 2)
- By The Sword
This is by no means every book set in Velgarth, but it will give you more than an adequate experience of the world to understand what it's like around the time that Doug spent there. It will also give you a slightly better idea of how the "line/node" system of magic works.
Q: When in the Heralds timeline was Doug in Valdemar?
A: Firstly, Doug's experience in Valdemar takes place in a parallel timeline to the books' world, established specifically for approved fanfiction, in which Kris' death in Arrow's Fall did not take place. That said, Doug arrived some time after the end of the events recounted in Arrow's Fall and well before Kerowyn's arrival in Valdemar with her mercenary company at the end of By The Sword. In fact, by the time Kero and her people arrived, he was long gone. (Which is a pity, because the two of them would have gotten along famously.)
Although I never sat down with a timeline and mapped it out precisely, I had envisioned Doug arriving some time between Talia's rescue and her marriage, and leaving approximately two years later.
Q: What was the actual plot of Drunkard's Walk I?
A: I'm not sure how much I can tell of the story without running afoul of Lackey's restrictions. So at this time, I'm not going to risk stepping on her toes. Most of the important events you can figure out from Doug's casual mentions here and there in the rest of the Walk.
Update, Spring 2010: With the change in Mercedes Lackey's stance on fanfiction, I no longer have restrictions of which to run afoul. But I'm still not going to tell you the plot — because it would be a spoiler.
Q: What did Doug learn or gain in Valdemar?
A: Doug learned about node magic in Valdemar after finding a forgotten room of magical texts in the Collegium library. (Because of either his extradimensional origins, his field, or a combination of the two, he was mostly unaffected by Vanyel's nation-wide compulsion spell.) He also gained the ability to speak and read Valdemaran like a native, thanks to a magical "accident" that also left a Herald with the ability to speak and read English as though she had grown up in L.A. in the late 20th Century.
Q: Who is Delandra?
A: Herald-Trainee Delandra vel'deVarn was the first non-Companion to arrive at the location of Doug's arrival in Velgarth, and was the first human with whom he tried to communicate. She subsequently became his liaison/guide and later his friend. She is the orphaned only child of a minor noble house based in the town of Demsbury on the Hardorn border. "Dee" is excessively serious, prone to overworking herself, and suspects that her parents' recent death was not an accident but murder. Also, thanks to a magical mishap during Doug's first night in Haven, she is also the only mortal person in all of Velgarth who can do a perfect "Valley Girl" act.
Her Companion is a male named Sylvath.
Q: In chapter 15, why didn't Madigan's bodyguard boomers go
into her apartment and discover Doug there?
A: Because they were Quincy's bodyguard boomers, the ones whom Doug freed while they were deactivated. Doug arranged his little surprise for Madigan with them, using Aquarius to make the initial contact. They not only knew he was there, they were snickering quietly to themselves as they walked away from her door.
Q: Doug says at one point in the story that he doesn't drink
alcohol. But he drinks ouzo with Lisa and wine with Madigan.
A: As a general rule he avoids alcohol — with all the other mental factors affecting his metagift, intoxication is not something he needs. But he will drink socially on occasion; he limits himself to a single glass of whatever it is, sipped over the course of an hour.
Q: Is the climax of Drunkard's Walk
II based on/inspired by/influenced by the movie
A: No. I plotted out and actually wrote part of the ending of DW2 in 1997, three years before Unbreakable reached theatres. Additionally, the motivations of Quincy and Elijah Price are quite different: Price wants to prove superheroes actually exist, as a means of validating and justifying himself. Quincy is trying to prompt their spontaneous creation in a universe where they didn't previously exist.
Q: Item X conflicts with Oh! My Goddess!
A: Oh! My Brother!, and thus Drunkard's Walk V, are in an alternate universe from canon Oh! My Goddess. It is a wildly divergent timeline (wild divergence #1 being our favorite apotheosized Canadian). If there is a canon conflict between Oh! My Brother! and Oh! My Goddess, Oh! My Brother! wins, because that's the storyline/timeline Doug's visiting.
Q: When exactly in the Oh! My Goddess timeline
does DW5 take place?
A: If you need to place this somewhere relative to events in the canon timeline, Drunkard's Walk V takes place right before the "Lord of Terror" arc. Besides that being Chris's designated point in time for OMB, it also happens to coincide nicely with the extent of Bob's exposure to the manga.
Q: Why aren't you using [Banpei/Velsper/Sigel/Hild/Chihiro/my
favorite obscure character from volume 123 of the manga]?
A: See above. Except for Peorth, if they first appeared after the "Lord of Terror" arc, then they haven't shown up yet in story time. It might be nice if they appear, but first both Chris and I have to a) know about them, b) know them well enough to write them, and c) have a story reason for using them (or get a big enough kick from a cameo). Furthermore, Chris is final arbiter on who gets to live in his universe, and if he doesn't like, say, Hasegawa, well, Tokyo City Records will suddenly be missing a birth certificate...
It should be noted that Paradox takes Banpei's role as protector of the goddesses, which is why Skuld won't be building it/him. As a second-order effect, this means that Paradox's girlfriends Ami and Rachel occupy Sigel's role (as Sigel was built — by Skuld — to be a girlfriend for Banpei).
Also, the reference to "a friend's attempt at her own small business" in chapter 1 may well refer to Chihiro, despite the continuity hole it would cause.
Q: How do you pronounce his last name?
A: It's French, and properly sounded out it would be "sahng-NWAHR" with the final "R" rolled a little. But Doug's family has Americanized the pronunciation a bit — they say "sang-NWAR" with no roll.
Q: What's Doug's bio?
A: Doug was born in 1962 in Beverly Hills, CA. His father, Peter William Sangnoir, is Senior Vice President in charge of Development for Monumental Studios and a major player in the film industry. His mother, Jessamyn Lorraine Sangnoir, is a socialite and equestrian (former Olympic champion). Both are "old money". Doug himself was what he calls a "Beverly Hills Baby", growing up very, very rich among the very, very rich in the 1960s and 1970s. He is an only child, although he has several cousins, none of whom he has seen in years. Since going public with his powers in the middle-late 1980s, he's been more or less estranged from his parents, who see the kind of grandstanding and crazy behavior that marks his public persona as somewhat tacky; there are also political differences that have made for some tension.
Q: What was Doug's first use of his power,
and what happened? (i.e.: What was his origin story?)
A: It is mentioned briefly in chapter 15 of Drunkard's Walk II, but I'll cover it here in a bit more detail.
Some weeks after Doug's sixteenth birthday, his metagifts first began to manifest. Along with all the physical and intellectual changes he underwent, his broken magegift awoke. They were weak and underdeveloped, but both the song power and the improbability field were there, and they made his life total chaos. Doug's clothes would spontaneously disintegrate when he least expected it, crumbling to dust or exploding into a cloud of their component fibers; food on his fork would unpredictably transmute into something unrecognizable; and he utterly killed five telephones and a $7,000 hi-fi system before he learned not to touch electronics. And of course, there was no telling what would happen if he were to pass within hearing of a radio or TV.
His life became a mess as random events, some of them rather destructive, just happened wherever he went. His father thought the family had acquired a poltergeist, and his mother hired an exorcist. (The family's Catholic heritage, although mostly ignored, still ran strongly in the blood.) And when that didn't work, she took a page from her mother's side of the family and called in a rabbi — who had just as much success as the exorcist. Nobody considered the possibility that Doug was undergoing a metahuman reaction, because most of the stuff seemed to happen to him rather than come from him.
While his parents were trying to handle things, Doug was busy figuring things out himself. It took him weeks — and the full extent of his newly-expanding intellectual gifts — to analyze the patterns and separate the effects of the field from the those of the song power. But once he had made the connection between the worst of the effects and the songs he heard, he was able to achieve a measure of control using a transistor radio with an earplug tuned to a classical station. The weirdness faded away, mostly, his parents calmed down, and the whole thing was deliberately forgotten — a temporary embarassment that would never be spoken of again.
However, having figured things out that far, Doug decided to experiment. So one late summer day in 1978, he gathered up a box of casette tapes, a battery-powered player, and one of those trigger-operated "gripper" tools used for reaching things on tall shelves. He put them in a sack and dragged them up into the Hollywood Hills.
The very first song he tried was, quite unwisely, the Doors' "Light My Fire". The uncontrolled explosion of flame it created started one of the most destructive forest fires seen in Los Angeles County during the entire 20th century — the Great Hollywood Wildfire of 1978.
His efforts to extinguish the blaze only made it worse. In the end he lost the player and tapes to the fire, and had to run for his life. He wasn't hurt, and no one ever connected the fire to him, but a lot of people lost their homes, several dozen people had to be hospitalized, and one firefighter had a fatal heart attack while working the blaze.
Doug didn't try to use his metatalent again until he was 24.
Q: Why does Doug have a problem with gods?
A: Doug is at his heart a frustrated mystic. He wants there to be something Big and Meaningful behind the veil of the world. Discovering that the gods really, truly existed, that they weren't just figments of human imagination, at first seemed to the answer to what he was looking for. Unfortunately, almost every god he's ever met has been a disappointment — humans writ large, undisciplined children with too much power, beings he feels are not deserving of either the power they wield or the influence they have in human lives. Ultimately, though, he feels betrayed by the gods, all gods, because they are (as he sees it) too busy playing sadistic games with the lives of mortals (and each other) and not doing anything to give meaning and purpose to those lives.
He respects and admires Hexe, maybe even loves her a little, for her integrity and self-restraint, for choosing to put herself — all of herself — in a mortal shell and be a mortal, to have mortal concerns, with something close to mortal limits; this alone, in his opinion, makes her far superior to the vast majority of gods. But paradoxically, in Hexe he cannot find the true transcendance that he yearns for, because she has become too human. So he's stuck looking for something other than the all-too-mortal Hexe and the ineffable brats he's come to see other gods as, in the hopes that he will find a divine spark that proves there's more to the multiverse than nihilism and self-indulgent deities. In the mean time, he takes out his frustration and anger on those deities.
Q: Is Doug an author avatar?
A: No. My "avatar" in Warriors' World is a superhero by the name of "Quasar", who works with a private team named "StrikeForce" based in New Jersey. He and Doug were freshman year roommates in college, but neither had any idea that the other was a mutant with metahuman abilities.
On a less literal level, Doug is as much of an author avatar as any author's central character is. Yes, he embodies and expresses several of my own traits and opinions — how could he not, with the number of years I've played and written him? He and I have grown together, into each other, in some ways. We both share a strong ethical sense divorced from any religious context. We are both passionately opinionated. We are both devout believers in the power of the individual to make a difference. We both suffer from a kind of good-natured thoughtlessness and selfishness that can grate on and irritate our friends. We both have odd and quirky senses of humor that also grate on and irritate our friends — when it doesn't have them rolling on the floor.
But he is very much not me in many other ways. He is fearless where I am cautious. He is confident and self-assured where I am always second-guessing myself. He is strong where I am weak. He is a killer, though not cold-bloodedly so, where I am squeamish and pacifistic. He likes Greek food, I mostly don't.
Like so many other things, the answer is neither "yes" nor "no", but somewhere in between.
Q: Has Doug ever learned to play any musical instruments?
A: He tried his hand at the guitar during his early teens, before his metagift manifested, but found he had no talent for it. He hasn't seriously tried any other musical instrument since then, although he has managed to get a recognizable tune out of a harmonica a few times. This fact secretly pleases him to a degree totally out of proportion to the difficulty of the task.
Note that he has no impediments when it comes to programming music. If he can do everything in software, Doug is capable of some extraordinary musical results, but this isn't often considered "performance" or "playing an instrument".
Q: How do various artists (and their lawyers) react to Doug's use of their songs?
A: Because Doug occasionally plays the music in his helmet on its external speakers, his use of it can sometimes be viewed as a "public performance". As a result, Doug (when at home, at least) assiduously pays the appropriate fees to the various music licensing agencies (ASCAP, BMI, etc.) and provides them with logs of his song usage, just as though he were a radio station; the fees he pays are somewhat lower than a real radio station would pay, but even so are not insubstantial. He's done this from the beginning of his career as a Warrior; having grown up in the entertainment industry, it seemed to him like the only fair and proper thing to do.
Even so, some performers (or their management) do not want him using their music, for a wide variety of reasons — political, economic and other. The Warriors' World version of Ted Nugent, for instance, distrusts the UN and doesn't want his music associated with its "enforcers"; the Warriors' World version of Neil Young has personally requested that Doug refrain from using his songs based on his well-known aversion to commercialization and licensing.
Normally such requests are handled informally, but some artists have filed lawsuits in lieu of simply asking. Doug promptly and happily complies, but makes sure his own very-highly-paid lawyers exclude any "gag" or "silence" provisions in the resulting settlements. Several litigation-happy musicians have discovered that they may have won their cases only to have Doug trash them in the media for not just asking him first. "Humorless geek" is usually the kindest thing he calls them.
On the other end of the spectrum, a large number of performers actively encourage Doug's use of their music, viewing it as free advertising. Others simply get a kick out of seeing what his power does with their work. He has surprisingly few friends in the music industry (the Warriors' World version of Madonna is one; they've known each other since long before either of them were famous), but those he has are always happy to send him pre-release copies of their work in the hopes that lightning will strike (sometimes literally!) and they can rake in some cross-promotion.
Others go even farther, deliberately attempting to "write powers" for Doug while composing. Perhaps the best examples are the Warriors' World versions of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Jim Steinman. Ever since their collaboration on The Phantom Of The Opera in the late 1980s, they have had a private competition to see who can write the most powers for Doug. Doug is unaware of this competition, which they keep entirely between themselves, but as of his departure from Warriors' World in 1998, the score was tied at three songs each.
Q: Would he ever sell out and do commercials for iPods or their local equivalents?
A: What do you mean, "sell out"? He already works for the Man, you know. Once again, Doug is from an entertainment industry family. He would see nothing wrong with doing commercials, although he would not agree to promote a product whose performance he had not personally verified.
Q: Is there really a Marvel Comics character based on Doug?
A: Um, maybe. It's possible. A mutant codenamed "DJ" first appeared in New Mutants (second series) #2 (released in 2003). DJ's mutant power was suspiciously similar to Doug's, only instead of individual songs, entire genres of music produced specific effects — all Blues songs did the same thing, all Rock songs did another specific thing, and so on. And like the earliest versions of Doug, he used headphones and a portable tape player to control his mutant talent. Sadly, DJ didn't have much staying power, and was killed off about two years after his first appearance, in New X-Men (volume 2) #24.
So. How did this come about? Now, here's where things get speculative. I don't know this for sure, but the following sequence of events seems likely and reasonable to me:
Back in the late 1980s, when some of us in the campaign tried to put out an independent Warriors Alpha comic book, we met a high school student by the name of Vince Russell, who wanted to become a comic book artist. He was already pretty good, and after the Warriors comic idea sank, I commissioned him to do a set of full-color illustrations of the various Warriors as Christmas gifts; one of the illos of Doug found in the Gallery and on the main DW page — in fact, the one reproduced in a reduced size above — is a scan of his work from that set of commissions, as are several of the pencil sketches. In the process of doing them, he learned a whole lot about all the characters.
Anyway, Vince just got better over the years, and he did in fact realize his dream of becoming a professional artist for comic books. In addition to drawing for a number of independent publishers, he's worked for both Marvel and DC.
Having been in touch with Vince on and off all this time, I know that he never forgot about the Warriors. It's entirely possible that he talked about them to some of the people that he worked with. His recollections of Doug may have provided the inspiration for the creation of "DJ".
Once again, this is all speculation. It could have been just a coincidence, the tumbling dice of inspiration coming up with the same basic numbers for a Marvel writer that they did for me some seventeen years earlier. Barring a specific statement from someone involved, I'm afraid that we'll never see any kind of confirmation one way or the other. And I'll lay good odds that we'll never see one, because I'm sure somebody will think any admission would just open them up to some kind of legal liability.
But it's still kinda nice to think about, that my ideas are good enough for the big time.
Update, 12 March 2013. I realized today that there is a second vector by which tales about Doug might have reached Marvel, and it's one that I am surprised didn't occur to me years ago.
Basically, back in the late 1980s I was a regular in the discussion board for comic books on CompuServe (what they used to call a "SIG" or "special interest group" at the time). And while there, I fell into a friendship of sorts with Walt and Louise Simonson — to the point that Peggy and I met with them socially on a couple of occasions around the time of our wedding; even today they're among my Facebook friends. (Not that the latter means much, given how casual friending can be on Facebook, but still...) Now I can't specifically remember ever actually talking to them about Doug and the Warriors as it's been close to twenty-five years, but given our mutual interests it's reasonable. And from there it might have gone much the same as I suggest above it might have for Vince.
Once again, this is speculation, "wow, wouldn't it be cool" ponderings. But finding two different ways for the concept behind Doug to make its way into Marvel — and both of them being only one degree of separation — well, I'm no longer going "gee, d'ya think...?" and starting to go "Hmmmm." Either way, though, I'd take it as a compliment, not a "theft".
Q: If Doug was a big furry animal, what kind would he be?
A: An extraordinarily large wombat.
Q: How many licks does it take for Doug to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
A: Three. He could never resist biting.
Q: What happens the first time Doug hears a song?
A: His subconscious mind takes it all in and evaluates it (for lack of a better word). He gets a sense (not always accurate) of whether or not the song will have a magical effect. This sense can vary by how strongly his subsconscious resonates with the song.
Q: Has any song ever automatically triggered Doug's power (is
this possible?), or does it always take a conscious decision on
A: All the time. That's the way the power works — Doug can only choose to listen to or avoid music. Most songs that trigger a power then have a radius effect, or some other undirected expression, and he has no ability to influence who they affect and how strongly. Doug, naturally enough, has chosen to focus a lot on songs whose effects he gains some limited ability to direct.
Q: If Doug hears a song he's heard before (and had a positive
connection to, and therefore, has a power for it), does it trigger
A: Yes. He has no voluntary control — other than avoiding music — over the activation of his song power.
Q: What, exactly, does Doug need to get a power from a musical work?
(music + lyrics, music + some words, words + a beat, etc.)
A: He needs, at the very minimum, a single instrument playing a recognizable melody, and a single voice singing to that melody in a language he understands. Oddly enough, different/more complex orchestrations do not reliably map into stronger powers — just different expressions of the same core concept behind the powers he already receives.
Q: What happens if Doug hears a song while he is unconscious or asleep?
A: Nothing. On a related note, hearing a song in a dream — or having a song stuck in his head for that matter — does nothing. Whatever the mechanism that instructs his mage gift is, it appears to require the physical presence of his ears in the process, as attempts to use telepathy to hear a song through someone else's ears have canonically failed to work for him.
Q: Does whatever effect a song has last as
long as the song actually lasts, or just as long as the lyrics
are still going?
A: Once Doug has a specific effect for a song, the effect lasts for the full length of the song, from intro to outro, as long as there is at least a melody and a beat.
Q: Does the power match what the song lyrics really say, or what Doug
thinks they say?
A: The latter, especially when what he thinks they say is in fact what they actually say. Note that a power generated by a song need not slavishly fit the literal meaning (or metaphoric content) of a song.
Q: If Doug's perceptions create the power, can the power change if his
perceptions of the lyrics change? Or is the power "locked in" after it
manifests for the first time?
A: The power effects for a given combination of song, orchestration and performer are "locked in". They do not change.
Q: Can Doug get more than one power from one song?
A: Depends on how you define a "power". In V&V, many powers come as "clusters" of abilities — Lightning Control, for instance, not only allows him to throw lightning bolts, but to set up a lightning-based defensive shield, to control electronic devices and to burn them out as well. However, to be a bit less disingenuous, yes. If they work together as a theme, supported by the song, he can get more than one: "I'm A Pioneer" is a good example — it gives him (in V&V terms) Flight, Life Support, a little extra Agility, and a Body Power allowing him to ignore inertia.
Coming at it from another angle, different performers and orchestrations can often produce variations on the "theme" that describes the power — see the next question.
Q: Can Doug get different powers from different versions/covers of the
same song? If so, are the different powers related or can they be
A: Yes, he can. The resulting power effects are usually related — the canonical example is "Hazy Shade of Winter". The Bangles version, as shown in DW2, gives him what V&V calls "Ice Control". The original Simon and Garfunkel version, though, is a fairly useless minor effect that lets him generate patches of snow and ice on the ground.
Q: Does the same song in different languages have different
A: If they're languages he understands, the inevitable differences imposed by translation will change the "context" which his magegift uses to decide on an effect. Most likely this will simply act in much the same way as two different performers' versions of a song, but it could have more dramatic effects. Note that this has so far not happened in-game or in the Walk. If he comes across the original Japanese version of "Boku wa Pioneer" ("I'm A Pioneer", from Tenchi Muyo!), we could see this tested, though.
Q: Do ballad songs trigger Doug's power, or are they safe?
A: All songs in languages he understands have a chance to trigger his power, regardless of style, mode or instrumentation.
Q: What about a song in a language Doug can't understand?
A: Nothing happens. If he can't understand the words, his magegift doesn't have anything it can act on.
Q: If a specific song didn't work in his magic poor homeplane, could
it work on a more magic rich plane, or if he tapped a node?
A: No. Availability of mana doesn't affect whether or not a song has a power effect.
Q: If Doug could play a musical instrument, could he play and sing such
that he'll get a power?
A: Well, since he can't play anything, no. But even if he could, it's unlikely he could play, sing, and fight all at the same time.
Q: What happens when Doug starts listening in the middle of a
song? Or if a part of the song starts looping?
A: In the game we've dealt with both of these things, very early on. Coming in on the middle of a song acts just like starting from the beginning — either the power "analyzes" the song for future use (if it is not familiar) or the particular effects activate (if it is). Of course, in the latter case it lasts for less time.
Doug used a looped song once in a very early adventure that was later declared non-continuity, and never again after that. So an "official" ruling was never made. However I would be inclined to disallow continued power effects with a loop unless the splice was absolutely seamless.
Q: What is "forcing" a song?
A: Not every song produces a useful power. Most have no obvious effect. (This is not to say that they don't have any effect at all; I used to joke that whenever he played one of these songs, a star on the other side of the galaxy went supernova.) Some have trivial or useless effects, or have so many conditions and side-effects that they are essentially useless. A little less than 20% of all songs backfire (see below). "Forcing a song" is something Doug does when he wants a new song to produce a specific power. (The desired power has to be supported by the lyrics of the song!) If it works, he gets the power he wants. If it fails, it backfires immediately. This is essentially Doug trying to coerce his subconcious mind into manipulating his magegift the way he wants it to; sometimes his subconscious mind resents the coercion and gets even.
In V&V terms, this is Doug using an Inventing Point to "buy" a specific power. Since it is far easier for Doug to do this than for another character to actually invent a super-device, a "success/critical failure" roll was imposed, at a target level considerably below Doug's actual "inventing roll".
Q: What's a backfire?
A: A little less than 1 in every 5 songs, when they are first tried, produce effects that are disturbing, inconvenient, or harmful to Doug. (The latter are never immediately fatal, but sometimes running them too long can be very dangerous.) These negative effexts are backfires.
Q: What can and can't Doug's improbability field do?
A: In the original game, Doug's improbability field was in fact just the "special effect" for his Heightened Defense X 2. As such, it was simply a defense, subtracting 8 from attackers' "to hit" rolls (made on a d20, so it's a signifcant effect). It's been called an improbability field for almost as long as I've played him, but only in writing DW2 did I begin to explore what living with it would really entail. Most of what I thought up would be a major pain, and that's what I wrote — transmuting food and clothing, random unwelcome weirdness, stuff along those lines. To allow him to function day-to-day without his food poisoning him or his clothes spontaneously falling apart, I came up with the idea of him being able to "nudge" effects away from things he wanted left alone (with a concomittant rise in weirdness somewhere and somewhen else). Yes, he can try this "nudging" for other purposes (like making a pair of handcuffs spontaneously open), and sometimes it works. But since since the odds of getting the one thing he wants out of everything that could possibly happen are astronomical, it doesn't usually happen and he doesn't rely on it.
To provide a short and sweet answer, though, the only thing he can count on it doing is keeping him from being hit by incoming attacks, and even that doesn't work all the time.
Q: How much control does Doug have over his powers?
A: He has complete control over all the physical mutations of his body — his speed and agility, his intelligence and so on. It is only the broken magegift and the improbability field it creates which are "out of control".
When using his magegift (AKA his "song power"), he can manage a reasonable level of control with his selection of music. Instrumentals "neutralize" it, by giving it a "null signal" to analyze. (Similarly, two or more different pieces of music, be they songs or no, played at the same time "interfere" and "neutralize" the song power.) Many songs produce powers that affect everyone or everything within about 34 meters indiscriminately. Others — and these he prefers to focus on — allow him to select targets and attack/affect them at will.
He can influence his improbability field very slightly, enough to make living inside it tolerable. (See previous question.) But he can't do much more than that.
Q: You mean Doug can't just "call home"?
A: Nope. In general, his powers cannot reach beyond the universe he's in.
Q: What's this about his touch enchanting objects "accidentally"?
A: This was another of the extrapolated "side effects" of having an improbability field. It was at the time a setup for a plot element that was abandoned about a third of the way through writing DW2; a similar plot element may make its appearance in another Step, though.
Q: What's the deal with Wetter Hexe being a goddess?
A: The same deal with Marvel's Thor being a god. Sorta. The difference is a little complex. Gods as manifested in a particular universe are actually "timeslices" of vastly more powerful, extradimensional creatures who operate in many different universes simultaneously; think of them as "self-inserting" themselves into many different "stories" at once. So all the Thors that exist in various universes are just "faces" — avatars — of a single being who can manage them all simultaneously. However, the Being who is Hexe wanted a different experience of a mortal world, and poured all of itself into a human child. (It chose Warriors' World for this because the local physical laws made it likely that doing so would not cause a catastrophic explosion that would shatter the planet.) That Being no longer exists in the "metaplane" where all the other meta-level gods live, and no longer has active avatars in any other universe; its entire existence is now bound into the mortal form which is Hexe. It is by no means mortal now — when Hexe's body dies (and it will, eventually), the Being she is will return to the metaplane with all its experiences intact.
Q: Okay, Hexe's a goddess. Which goddess is she?
A: I'm sorry, citizen, that information is not available at your security clearance.
Seriously, although we in the campaign — along with DW5 co-author Christopher Angel — know what pantheon she belongs to and in what way, Helen has asked that I not make that information public. She has laughed, though, at the idea that Hexe is Athena, particularly the version from Saint Seiya.
It's probably safe to tell you that Hexe could be considered an "elder" deity; she was among the first members of her preferred pantheon, equivalent in some ways to a Greek Titan, and she is one of the original parties to the ancient Covenant between mortals and gods. She is younger than the Fates/the Three (hence her calling them "Honored Aunts" in DW2), but then again, so is almost every other deity, too. Beyond them, though, there are few gods older than she.
And she has been a guardian of truth and a defender of humanity since humans first appeared on the Earth.
Q: What does it mean when Celestial characters
call Hexe "Stormsdaughter"?
A: Absolutely nothing. It is in fact a red herring that I cooked up in order to avoid using Hexe's true name as a deity. In terms of Who Hexe really is, it means nothing and is in fact deliberately misleading. And it should go without saying that Helen has never used anything like it in play.
Q: Just how powerful is Hexe?
A: Very very. Using V&V rules straight out of the box, Hexe can: control the weather in an area of several hundred square miles, run at nearly 200 MPH, fly at supersonic speeds, survive being at ground zero for a nuclear explosion, take on a noncorporeal spirit form, and use the air for dozens of yards around her as a single massive sensory organ. Her control of weather is all but absolute and is dramatic in its scope and amplitude: she can drive her area of effect the entire range of conditions from a blizzard to a summer thunderstorm in 15 seconds or less. On a more personal level, she can lift close to 1400 pounds, and does about a third of a Fuzion Kill with her bare hands. (Unlike Doug, almost none of that is martial arts prowess — it's nearly all pure power.) And that's with virtually all of her "true" nature's power throttled down!
Q: Does Hexe have worshippers?
A: There are people in various timelines still worshipping the expression(s) of her divine nature which she used before incarnating into a human body. As Helene "Wetter Hexe" Diedmeier, though, she neither encourages nor accepts worship. This doesn't stop the occasional odd cult, though, but Hexe has proven somewhat hostile to these groups when she's come across them. "Get a life!" is often heard.
Q: What is mana, how does it arise, can it be traced, etc.?
A: Mana is the "fuel" or power supply behind most magic. Although produced and/or channelled mainly by living beings, mana is or carries a fundamental force that complements the more mundane forces long known to physicists. When directed by a human mind capable of perceiving it, mana can be used to act on both the physical and spiritual worlds, transforming into other, more familiar forms of energy as needed. This process is called "spellcasting" or "wizardry".
Mana can sometimes be "aspected" — "colored" or "tuned" to work better for a specific effect or intent. How this happens is not well understood and is a matter of great debate for research thaumatologists.
Once it manifests in or through a living thing, mana enters the environment, where it remains. How it behaves there varies from world to world. To illustrate these behaviors, think of mana as a liquid like water. In some worlds, mana flows out across the landscape in an evenly-distributed layer; there is a constant supply of mana everywhere you go, and it never varies in amount or aspect. In other worlds, mana gathers in streams and flows like creeks and rivers; these flows are called ley lines and are usually independent of mundane geographical influences. In most worlds where magic flows into ley lines, the ley lines themselves flow into nodes — equivalent to ponds, lakes, and sometimes even oceans. From the nodes or the ends of the lines, mana usually "evaporates" — recycles back into the fabric of the universe to be re-born again in another living thing.
In order to use mana and thus perform magic, a person must possess a genetic gift known as the magegift. This gift combines the ability to perceive local mana and the ability to channel and shape that mana. There are varying levels of the magegift:
- Magesight — the user can see but not actually use mana or magic.
- Personal energies — the user can make use of only the mana that flows naturally through his body
- Local energies — the user can tap into ambient mana
- Ley Lines — the user can divert the energies of a ley line for his own use
- Nodes — the user can directly tap a node
Since the larger and more concentrated a source of magic gets, the more powerful and "turbulent" it can be, a magic user must take care to keep control of his connection to the local source of magical power. Ambient mana is rarely a problem, as it is "smooth" and "slow", but ley lines are often "fast" and "rough", and nodes are usually "high pressure".
Because it interacts with the physical world in a slightly different way than the other forces of nature, mana is only visible to those with the magegift and to certain specialized scientific or magical instrumentation. Because even when it is supposedly "static" mana has some effect on the physical world, it's possible to track a magical effect by the traces it leaves behind — at least until you reach a point where it was converted into another form of energy entirely.
Q: What's a node?
A: If ley lines are analogous to rivers and streams, nodes are analogous to ponds and lakes — they are "low points" where magical energy gathers. Tapping a node requires strength and skill — when he first learned how to do it, Doug called it "drinking from the firehose", because a mage using a node is like a drain or leak — all the "pressure" built up in the node wants to rush out through him. The mage needs to be able to cast and maintain his spell while at the same time accessing and throttling the flow of power that wants to run rampant through his body.
Q: Do nodes exist in Warriors' World?
A: No. Warriors' World is a low-mana world where most of the available magical power is ambient — evenly distributed across the face of the planet. There are a few ley lines, but they are weak compared to those in other worlds, and do not form nodes in the rare places where they intersect. (Even so, they are still invaluable to mages; Dwimanor and Doug made use of the line intersection at Stonehenge for the ritual which restored Shadowwalker from the semivampiric state she was caught in during the Vampire War.)
Q: Is there such a thing as counterspell or antimagic?
A: Yes; Dwimanor has various dispells and the like available to him. However, Doug rarely can manage such effects with his metagift; there aren't many songs that have the general sense of "I stop you from doing magical nasty thing X to me".
Q: What's this 'techno-magical' stuff? I thought technology and
magic were mutually exclusive!
A: Says who? If they were, you couldn't have magic swords or anything — forging steel into weapons is a technology, after all. If magic couldn't work with technology, then a wizard would have to live naked in a cave without even fire (starting fire with flint is a technology, too). The thing is, most people associate magic with medieval fantasy, and think that means magic is by its nature incompatible with or even hostile to "high" technology. (See Shadowrun for a good gaming example.) But there's no reason at all to believe that except decades of assumptions and prejudices. Magic works just fine with technology if you pick the correct axioms — for example, the GURPS magic system includes an entire college of magic designed to deal with technology, including such spells as "Analyze Machine", "Repair" and even "Awaken Computer".
Doug comes from a world where magic and technology are two different, but not incompatible, paths by which the world can be manipulated. Magic operates by consistent rules (it has to, if spells can be created and cast reliably) that can be investigated and discovered with the same scientific method used for other laws of the universe, with the same success. Researchers in the last century have even proved that there can be a large degree of profitable synergy between the two paths — something that the first enchanters of manufactured items discovered centuries earlier.
Q: What is "Combat Hyping"?
A: One of the things I was trying to do in the narrative was carry over as much of the sense and feel of the original V&V game and its mechanics as I could. This is one instance of that. As players of most tabletop roleplaying games will tell you, there are usually two kinds of time — "regular time," in which you do most of your talking, negotiating, hanging about and whatnot, and "combat time", during which you are usually fighting for your life. In V&V, characters with high initiative rolls (usually as a result of heightened Agility levels) often move, act, think and react several times faster than the normals around them. But outside of combat, they still interact with others at the usual rate of time. In Doug's case, I decided that the difference between the two was attributable to a kind of adrenal overdrive such as has actually been reported a few times in the real world.
Q: Why does Doug use the metric system for everything but the
occasional figure of speech?
A: Doug is a UN employee living and working in Europe since 1987, not to mention an engineer. He's been immersed in the metric system for almost his entire adult life. The United States in Warriors' World is still one of the last holdouts against converting completely to metric, but even so, they're closer to it than in our world; almost everything in WW's USA is dual-system with both Imperial and Metric measurements given together, from cola bottles to traffic signs.
Q: Does Drunkard's Walk crossover with any other fanfic series?
A: Yes, several, in fact. Readers may recall that Legion and Minerva from Ed Becerra's megaseries Legion's Quest appear in chapter 5 of Drunkard's Walk II. It's no secret, between their dialogue and the information on the main DW page on this site, that Drunkard's Walk X is intended to explicitly pair up Doug and Legion for a joint adventure.
Establishing that DW and Legion's Quest exist in the same "meta-continuity" means that the (in)famous Twisted Path series by Twister is also contiguous with DW, by virtue of its close integration with LQ. And since the beginning of Barry Cadwgan's A Wolf In Crisis specifically intersects (however briefly) with events from the end of Twisted Path 3, it, too, is part of the same continuum.
The incomplete Legion's Quest story entitled "Mi Vida Loco" also links in Jeff Hosmer's Dirty Pair saga, featuring Jusenkyo-cursed Zen. You can find those stories on his page, under the great, big "DIRTY PAIR / CROSSOVERS" headline.
(Ed's use of the Undocumented Features universe in his first LQ story, though, was unauthorized by Ben "Gryphon" Hutchins, the central editorial force behind the EPU creative collective, and any place it claims in UF continuity has been rejected as invalid and nonexistent. Beyond that, the UF universe has been officially closed to new authors for many years. Therefore, out of deference to Gryphon, I will not presume to say that DW can possibly intersect with UF.)
Furthermore, we have Mark Latus' permission to include Titanite (aka Titania Hobbes and Sailor Polaris) from the Dark Kingdom Renegades in Drunkard's Walk X. This will draw the Sailor Moon Expanded project into the meta-continuity, even though Titanite's presence is only one of her "Bogosity" stops.
Then there is, of course, Drunkard's Walk V, which explicitly crosses over with Christopher Angel's Oh! My Goddess self-insert fic, Oh! My Brother!. And OMB naturally draws in with it all the "subuniverses" found in God's Toy and its affiliated "omake" series, God's Toychest.
Doug visits Fenspace, the shared-world weird-tech space opera setting born and written on my discussion forums, in the prologue for Rob Kelk's story Galactic Girls. While this is a Stagger, or fan-written story, I consulted heavily on it and I consider it as official as it can get without me actually writing it myself.
Finally, Drunkard's Walk appears as itself — as a fic — in Craig Reed's Bubblegum Avatar. It is included in a collection of fanfiction that is provided to Sylia Stingray along with other Bubblegum Crisis materials — plus Craig Reed's self-insert character — by Ishmael, a godlike being who needs an agent to act in that particular BGC universe. Craig's Sylia apparently finds Doug amusing when he's not actually in her face, because she makes Craig use Doug's name as an alias on several occasions. Ishmael also explicitly states that the fanfics he's provided all detail existing alternate universes, which expands the realm of possible cross-connections with DW by a couple more orders of magnitude than I think I really want to deal with.
All other fics or fic series which explicitly intersect with any of these stories would also belong in the greater multiverse so defined, but at this writing, I'm not aware of any other candidates for inclusion. Besides, don't you think that's enough already? <grin>
If you're curious as to what this greater continuum actually looks like, though, long-time reader and forum member M. Fnord, with help from the greater Drunkard's Walk Forum community, assembled in September 2007 an impressive diagram of the interconnections, which you may download here. (Warning — it's rather large.)
Q: Do any of the worlds that Doug visits exist
as fictional works in Warriors' World?
A: Some certainly do; he's just unaware of them. For instance, some version of the Tenchi Muyo! OVAs exists in Warriors' World — members of one of his fan clubs got him to use "I Am A Pioneer" from the second series, after all. And even if Doug never actually visits it, at least one canon or near-canon Tenchiverse is known to exist in the DW multiverse, because Twister and his friends went there in one of the incomplete parts of Twisted Path. And another exists as part of Christopher Angel's Turn The Page series, which is a parallel universe to the one seen in DW5.
Q: Can I write Drunkard's Walk stories?
A: I'm not going to come to your house and make you stop, if that's what you're asking.
Q: No, no, I mean I want to write a Drunkard's Walk story and
show it to you and maybe share it with other readers.
A: Oh. Sure. I'd be a hypocrite if I said I didn't want people doing fics based on my fics. Besides, I think it's a hell of a compliment. Anyway, you wouldn't be the first — I have a page set up for fan-written adventures (the Fanficsquared), and I'm happy to post things people write there. I'll warn you, though, that I vet what goes up on that page — I'm not going to accept something that's grossly out of character or inappropriate.
You can also post relatively short fics directly into my discussion forums, but then you risk immediate and direct criticism on your efforts by people who may not be as nice as me. <grin>
Q: Can I use Warriors' World characters in some story I'm writing?
A: Ask first. I don't own most of the WW characters, and am using them with the permission of their owner/creators. If you want to use them, you should get the same permission.
Q: Do you accept artistic renderings of Doug's adventures or the
characters he interacts with?
A: You bet! I even have a Gallery page to put them on.
Q: Do you accept GURPS International Super
Teams fan fiction?
A: Certainly. In fact, I've been looking for IST fanfiction for years. It wasn't until 2004 that I actually saw any — the "Thibor Sawchyk" stories created by Shayne Dark and now available on my IST page. If anyone wants to create their own IST stories, I'll gladly host them on my site along with Shayne's.
Q: When is the next chapter/Step/whatever coming?
A: I am currently collaborating on Drunkard's Walk XIII with Helen Imre. Chapter 1 of this story was released in March of 2011.
As of November 2014, I am at work on chapter 2 of Drunkard's Walk XIII and chapter 4 of Drunkard's Walk VIII. I am also occasionally adding material here and there to DW6 and DW-S.
Q: How can I help?
A: Well, you can't directly help me write. But you can contribute to keeping me motivated. Post in my discussion forums — anything from serious reviews and criticism to blatant sucking up and cheap comedy. <grin> Encourage new readers and get them to contribute. Things like that.
Q: Can I be a prereader?
A: No. Or at least, not right now, and not without showing that you have something to offer in that regard.
To be bluntly honest, I have all the prereaders I can use at the moment. Any more and I'll have too many opinions to process in the time I've got to write. I will take no new prereaders until I lose one to the vagaries of time and personal interests. And when I do, it won't be a big public thing. If I need someone, and your comments in the discussion forum have impressed me, I'll be in touch. Trust me.
Q:Are you the Bob Schreck who has worked for several comic book companies?
A: No. That's a different fellow entirely. While it is a curious coincidence that our names are almost identical and we work with the same basic genre, that's all it is. Oh, and we've never met.