The Chemical Atlas
The Prime NPCs are those npcs that represent a number of elements of my own (the GM)’s psyche. Their creation, and watching them interact with the players and their stories, has been insightful. You can follow the link to their character pages to read more about each one, but here I will occasionally jot down how these characters relate to me, and what insights I have gleaned from them.
The list of Prime NPCs is as follows:
- Lady Macbeth, a nurturing shaman
- White Feathers, an opportunistic shaman
- Crazy Hacko, a ghoul street doc
- Gutterball, an ork street samurai
- Mellow Yellow, a perma-stoned, awakened dwarf
- Tire Iron Davies, an angry podcaster and technomancer
- Greg the Troll, a famous, and retired, gay troll shadowrunner
- Johan the Johan, a powerful, elven, independent Mr Johnson
I’ll use this space to wax philosophical about myself.
Lady Macbeth, which was a character originally conceived by Robin, my fiancée and player of Phaede, quickly came to represent my more nurturing side and loving nature. The more I explored her, through interactions with the players, the more and more I found her to be readily a part of my everyday life. In fact, I daresay that Lady Macbeth is, at any one time, the most present of any of my own shards of personality.
Like her, I am extremely lazy and, while I can get irritated, I am definitely a pacifist. Like many white middle class people in our western society, I have little exposure to the harsh ways the world is for so many, and this has conditioned my temperament. In Lady Macbeth I find a satisfying expression of both the positive and negative aspects of wu wei, or the action of not acting. As wuwei is very yin, it made symbolic sense for its incarnation to be both a woman, though she is a woman who represents the ideal of yin, and not a representation of the ideal of yin as women by extension.
Positive Aspects of Nonaction
The positive aspects of wu wei for Lady Macbeth are obvious. Because she is a constant soft, receiving force in a very violent, overly yang-saturated environment, there is no one who would want to see her taken away from the area. Only the insane, like the Halloweeners or Wolf Teeth, fail to see the necessity of that balancing force. The strength of her acceptance by Boxcutter Row is partially founded on their need for that balance. She would not experience the same kind of reverence in an environment saturated with similar yin forces, such as a suburban neighbourhood populated primarily by bored corporate trophy spouses. In such a place as that, she might seem shiftless, unexciting, and a wet blanket where a more active force would bring more balance.
Negative Aspects of Nonaction
The negative aspects of wu wei are less apparent immediately but readily demonstrative. Several of the Juicyfruits, including Zero Point, Phaede, and Click are very protective of Lady Macbeth, but they all readily agree that she is the Boxcutter in the least need of protection of any kind. She is even protected by powerful spirits, including one called the “Green Man.” When Boxcutter was attacked by Wolf Teeth, however, Lady Macbeth might have been able to find and eliminate her. Instead, she essentially allowed men, women, and children she loved to die horrible, painful deaths through her own inaction.
Would the residents of Boxcutter Row be as accepting of her if they knew she had the power to prevent so much of their suffering? Would they turn on her, even though she doesn’t ask anything for her services when rendered?
A Relationship Flashback
I became concerned about the similarities I had hitherto not noticed between Lady Macbeth and a woman I was in a relationship with. She, like Macbeth, was lazy and indulgent, and she was into Wicca and a bit of a free spirited hippie. The relationship turned very, very bad, though, and I became concerned that my enthusiasm for Macbeth was some kind of subliminal desire remaining for this woman.
I didn’t want to shrug off the idea – after all, magic is not supposed to be anything if not personally deconstructive, so I explored the possibility that I might still have feelings for her. I gave it a lot of serious reflection, and in the end, I came to two conclusions. The first was a conclusion about that relationship I had reached previously, and frankly, it felt good to “rediscover” the same train of thought. It was simply that, as I’m sure many people had said before me, we were not right for each other, and in our own efforts to cope with ourselves, we did a lot of harm to each other.
The second conclusion I reached came as a surprise. I had been worrying that I was projecting my desires into this character, sexual desires among them, and that this might be remaining desire for this past relationship. I realized, though, as I explored the concept more, that in many ways I began to see that Lady Macbeth was not a lingering desire for this woman but, instead, a representation of my own characteristics to which she was so strongly attracted. Having these aspects fictionally, externally embodied gave me an entirely new, unexpected perspective on myself I had not been prepared to see.
The whole experience of exploring this set of unbidden desires and emotions down a potentially uncomfortable path was rewarding, and I’m happy that I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Lady Macbeth and, in an indirect way, share those parts of myself to my friends, both the players of the Chemical Atlas and those who follow its stories from without.