From Hope to Blood: A Curious Journey Down the Path of Creation

Friday, July 13, 2007
You never know what people will pick up on. You toss ideas out there, hoping that one or more will resonate with others, but there's no sure way to know which ones will stick or what directions they might head in. I've always been interested in the process of creation and how it works. For the most part, I believe it's the result of synthesis of other ideas, but it can also happen suddenly like a lightning bolt.

For no other reason than because I found it interesting, I wanted to share the journey down one particular path of creation. In this case, the path that led to the idea for the Emerald Flight series of stories.

It all started with the concept for the design for a character for the game, City of Heroes. Someone I used to team with a lot was creating a new Super Group and I offered to make a character specifically for it. So, I started playing around with a visual design to see what inspiration might strike. (It often goes one way or the other for me: I either have a character personality in mind and try to design the physical representation to match, or develop a physical design and then work toward a personality that seems to fit.)

Thus, the character of Hope's Fury was born. As soon as I saw her in her uniform, I knew she was the medical officer of whatever group she belonged to. It was evident from her face that she was not human, so I decided she was from a race of aliens known as the Aerians. At that point, however, she was only a solo character, with no additional background beyond that.

I had another character, Emerald Flight, who I had created one day solely to test the archetype and build, who had kind of worked her way into the storyline established for the Raynes brothers, but I had not really worked out her background and story. So, she became the captain of a time traveling starship that Hope served on as the medical specialist (among other duties).

A fair amount of curiosity arose around the Aerians from some of the other players. Who were they? Where did they come from? How do they and humans meet for the first time? Why does Hope seem so arrogant? Is that normal for Aerians? I didn't really have the answers, as it wasn't really necessary to know for the current storylines, but would have made for interesting (and potentially useful) background information.

And then along came StarWing. Created by other of the other players, StarWyng (a bastardization of her true Aerian military rank of Star Wing) is another type of Aerian. Before StarWyng appeared, I didn't even know that there were Aerians with wings! She had a story all her own and also added (among many other details) that the Hope Furies were highly revered among the Aerians. That StarWyng was bonded with a Kheldian (a Peacebringer in this case) also reinforced a half-formed idea I had on why Hope had dark powers in addition to her healing abilities.

Having StarWyng appear got me wondering about what other Aerians might look like, particularly Aerian males. I could easily see a male version of StarWyng. Also, it opened the question of whether the majority of Aerians were winged or not and whether that created some kind of caste system among them.

These questions just kind of hovered around in the background, not really needing an immediate answer, but interesting to consider nonetheless. Then, I decided I wanted to create a character with a, well, more forceful personality than I usually created.

Enter StarBlood. A definite male of the species, he holds the rank of Star Blood. While Star Wings are much like our Pathfinders, Star Bloods are more akin to Marines or Navy SEALS (or, to use a fictional analogy, Klingons, but without the hygiene issues). As one player described him: "he is a Warrior with a capital 'W'". He is confident in his abilities almost to the point of utter arrogance. In addition to warfare, he also concerns himself with improving the Aerian gene pool. StarBlood is on a mission to find out what happened to the Aerians who traveled to Earth and were never heard from again. The Kheldian within has a far different mission of its own.

And so there the story stands . . . Quite a journey from a simple character design to the development of an entire alien species . . .