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Lethevale Mods ([personal profile] lethevale_mods) wrote2016-08-24 01:08 am

Premise and AUs

 Nestled in the forest, in the shadow of the Carpathian mountains and the mansion on the cliffs, is the little town of Lethevale - at first sight, a quaint place, if darkly suspicious of outsiders. It is to this town that you have come. Why? Perhaps you were hoping to find a job, or visit a relative. Perhaps you are running from something, or wandering without a purpose. Perhaps you just came off the road on the way to somewhere else. Either way, the town draws you in - and leaving may prove harder than you expected.

Whether you choose to investigate or to live in blissful ignorance, whether you wish to leave or are happy to stay, one thing is clear. Something very, very strange is going on in Lethevale. Something that spreads its roots much deeper than the town, deeper even than this world. And now, you’re a part of it.

Lethevale is a supernatural mystery in the tradition of gothic horror. All characters come to the game as AUs, based in the setting, with their own reasons for coming to the town. Over time, some may regain their memories of canon, or they may not - this is up to player discretion and in-game events.
There are only a few set rules about your character's AU backstory: fandom characters cannot originally come from the town (original characters can come from the town only if they're a. native to the setting and will not regain any memories of other canons, and b. unable to know or remember things about the town, e.g. because of amnesia), characters cannot have magical powers or major supernatural experiences, and they must be human.

So long as you follow these rules, you can go wild! However, there are some things which may make it easier to design a suitable AU. Here are some key points:

This is not the "real" world
Which is to say, Lethevale is not set in our world. The world of Lethevale looks like our world in many respects - it has a Europe, an America, and so on; any country or city from our world can be assumed to exist - but Lethevale itself exists in a country that isn't real, and is not bound by the strict limitations of the real world.

What does that mean? Well, first and foremost it means that, in making your AU, the geography and history don't have to be spot-on. We're not going to jump on you for introducing a historical event in your backstory that didn't actually happen until 1880, or anything like that. The date, like the place, is a rough guideline, not a hard-and-fast rule.

Secondly, it means that the social mores of 1870s Europe are also not hard-and-fast. We discuss this in the FAQs a little, but the long and short of it is that we, as a game, don't want to force players to play with bigotries or worldviews they're not comfortable with. If you want your character's backstory to include period-appropriate misogyny/racism/sexism/homophobia, that's fine, but we're sure as hell not going to enforce it.

Thirdly, and maybe even most importantly, it means you're not bound by real-world logic. Which leads into the next point...

Gothic horror thrives on implausibility
At the end of the day, although magic and the supernatural aren't allowed in your character's pre-Lethevale backstory, they are a character in a gothic horror now, and that means that contrived coincidences, wild implausibilities, and tragic backstories are all totally permitted - even encouraged! We're trying to create the genuine gothic ambience here, and at least part of that is being ridiculously over-the-top and hyperbolic, and playing it totally straight.

You don't have to make it dramatic, of course. You can be a Jonathan Harker type - totally ordinary, working a mundane job, without any sort of prelude until, suddenly, vampires! But you certainly don't need to shy away from over-the-top drama and coincidences that are too unlikely to believe. (You can also gloss over any practical difficulties, for instance trans-Atlantic travel or timelines that don't quite join up. If Shelley and Poe could handwave huge inaccuracies, so can we)

There is still a set period
As mentioned above, the year (1870) isn't intended as precise. However, please do remember that there are limits - we won't bat an eyelid if you mention German expansionism (started around 1880), but if your character's carrying around an iPod (released 2001) and talking about Dr Who and Ke$ha, that's less reasonable.

As a rule of thumb, ask yourself: "If I saw this in a Victorian photograph/newspaper article, would I suspect time travel?" If the answer is yes, please avoid it - we're trying to get a period atmosphere, after all!

The world as a whole is not magical
Yes, this has been mentioned before, but it's important. Lethevale is not representative of the world it's in. It's a nexus of weirdness and supernatural happenings - think of it like Gravity Falls, if that helps.

Your character may have seen (or thought they saw) a ghost when they were a child. They may have had weird experiences. But these things are not normal in the world around Lethevale, and certainly aren't expected - someone who runs around claiming to shoot fire out of their hands and see demons is probably going to be locked up in a mental asylum, and more importantly, they'll be wrong.

As in the real world, of course, there are people who believe in these things - there are spirit mediums, and black magic enthusiasts, and people who wade around bogs looking for fairies or spend years theorising on the anatomy of dragons. But - again as in the real world - they're generally viewed as eccentric, rather gullible, and certainly not able to prove their claims. Similarly, your character may have gone looking for elves at the bottom of their garden, or be an expert in vampire physiognomy, but actual first-hand, definite experience of the supernatural? Not so much.

In other words: say you wanted to app Erin Gilbert from Ghostbusters. Could she still be convinced she saw a ghost as a child, and still be obsessed with ghosts as a result? Yes. Could the Ghostbusters actually catch a ghost, or save New York? No.

This also applies to powers, inhuman shapes, and supernatural abilities. Can Clark Kent think he's an alien with superpowers? Yes. Can he actually be an alien with superpowers? No.

As a rule, magic and the supernatural are the only thing in your AU where, if you don't think it could happen in real life, you shouldn't do it. (Powers, non-human shapes, and other innate abilities can be regained in-game, just not in your character's pre-game backstory).

Your character has not yet arrived in Lethevale
Typically, your character's arrival is the suggested jumping-off point for entering the game. In terms of your application, what that means is that your character has not been in Lethevale for weeks or months or years; your "history" field ends with them coming to Lethevale.

That said, they are coming to Lethevale. Unlike many jamjar games, your character does not simply appear - every character has, according to their memories, travelled to Lethevale for a reason. What that reason is... that's up to you. Some suggestions, if you're stuck:
  • They're looking for a job, or have found one, in the town
  • They're visiting estranged relatives/friends (or joining a character already in the town)
  • They're fleeing something in their homeland - a bad relationship, a dangerous associate, a vigilante mob...
  • They're on holiday/travelling/on their way to somewhere else, and their horse threw a shoe/their carriage broke/the road's washed out or snowed over...
  • They're ill or stressed, and are in Lethevale to take the healthful mountain air
Of course, you don't have to use one of these excuses! Any reason works, even if it's a little off-the-wall. As we've said, it's gothic horror - logic is not our primary aim here!

(It goes without saying that any reason for coming which involves another player's character should be discussed with that player first)

You can always run things by the mods
Seriously. We want to help. If you're stuck on something in your character's backstory, or want to check whether something is allowed, please don't be afraid to ask.

You can reach the mods by PMing [personal profile] lethevale_mods, emailing us at lethevalemods@mail.com, or PPing us at [plurk.com profile] lethevale. You can also talk to individual mods through the contacts provided here. Just don't be afraid to reach out. We don't bite... [*scare chord*] ...most of the time.

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