Last night we started my steampunk Savage Worlds campaign, with five of six player in attendance. (One was out ill) One player played remotely via Skype, the others played 'round the table.
We ended up doing preludes, a modified version of the interludes rules in Savage Worlds Explorers Edition. Each player drew a card and the suite told them the type of flashback/prelude we'd be playing. A brief summary of the preludes:
*Nutzenboltz- A construct woke up on a table, surrounded by shadowy scientists. He was put through a number of tests, surprising his creators with his level of self-awareness. An experiment designed to test his ability to feel emotions went awry when one of the scientists threatened him with a blowtorch. The construct went berserk and escaped the lab, which was destroyed in some kind of meltdown or self-destruct. Wandering the alleys of London for hours (or days?), citizens finally spotted him and called the police, who in turn called the Royals. Teddy Rathchild and Red de Wynter showed up. They managed to talk the mysterious construct down and take him to the Royal Society headquarters at Burlington House, where he now resides.
*Red de Wynter- Having left her aristocratic family, Red was recruited by an airship privateer, Captain Kessler of the Black Rook. After raiding a Portuguese airship, the Captain ordered Red to throw the helpless captives overboard. When she refused, he tried to. She intervened, leading to a combat. He fumbled and went over the side. Red tried to save Captain Kessler, but only ended up with his overcoat as he plunged to his death. She took the Black Rook and crew back to England, where she learned that Captain Kessler was actually her uncle...
*Rowena Quinn- While attending a mesmerism symposium in Paris with her husband and daughter, Rowena encountered Professor Edward Collins, a rival of her husband and former member of the Royal Society. Collins experimented with the notion that he could rewrite the human psyche. Claiming to have reformed his treatment to be less dangerous, he was one of the speakers at the symposium. He used his technique on Rowena's husband, planting a suggestion in his mind to make him angrier and angrier. Rowena tried to help him with a fellow mesmerist, but he went berserk, taking the other man out of the window in the ensuing fight. Both died on the street below. The Professor also programmed Rowena's daughter to try and assassinate her with an explosive disguised as a music box. The plan went awry and although Sophia was killed, Rowna was spared. Rowena encountered the Professor at her husband's funeral. She tried to attack him but was restrained by other funeral goers. She has since vowed to find and kill Professor Collins.
*Eliza Rose Davies- Elizabeth never met her mother. She was raised mostly by her governess while her father, a member of the Royal Society, was often away on Society business. One day, her father came home from a field assignment looking haggard. He had a strange book and locked himself in his study for days. Eliza managed to sneak in and find him in the middle of some kind of ritual, a Seal of Solomon on the floor with a shadowy figure in it. She was ushered out of the room by her panicked father. She shadowed him for the next week or two, watching his degeneration. During one of her forays into his study, she recovered a diary of her mother's that seemed to detail her mother's study of alchemy, astrology, and theurgy. Eliza pocketed these and studied them in secret. One night, she was awakened by screaming. She got into her father's study just in time to see him taken through a portal by that shadowy figure. The study exploded into flames. The only item recovered from the rubble was a burned book cover reading "The Lesser Key of Solomon." The Royals took the girl in and enrolled her in a school for gifted students.
*Teddy Rathschild- Orphaned at a young age, Theodora was raised in an orphanage. She escaped around age ten, creating a false identity and enrolling at a school for gifted children. It was there that she developed her interest in chemistry. One morning in the dark hours past midnight, Teddy snuck into the school's laboratory to try her hand at making a truth serum. It was here that she encountered fellow student, Eliza Rose Davies. Bullying the other girl into being a lab rat, Teddy used her attempt at a truth serum to learn Eliza's secrets. She discovered the girl was practicing alchemy, a superstitious and ineffective precursor to chemistry. The girls were discussing science versus philosophy when the school Matron entered the lab. Eliza managed to hide, but Teddy ended up scrubbing floors in the school dining room for a week.
We still need to do one or Peter Quinn, but his player was absent due to illness. I'm presently trying to work in the idea that Rowena and Peter are related, given the fact that the players picked the same surname. (Albeit unknowingly)
So we have some roleplaying and characterization established, as well as a few character relationships. Our next session is April 1st. I'm going to try to get with the player of Peter (Nathan, who played the Qotah Expert in my Stars Without Number game a couple of years ago) and do his prelude via Skype before the next session. Hopefully next session we'll be able to hit the ground running in the game's present of March, 1888.