Friday, October 08, 2004

Save the Last Slayer

Buffy was a white girl in a rich white school because Joss wanted to deal with the Donna Reed issues of the old sitcoms his grandfather wrote. A more recent phenomena in teen movies is the outsider picture: a show focusing on either a white student in a mostly black or hispanic (and usually urban at-risk) school, or a non-white student in an all white (and usually upper crust) school. Save the Last Dance is one of the more successful uses of this formula, and so will form the basis "must see" for this Buffy campaign dealing with racism, inner city life, and big bad voodoo daddies.

Formula: Save the Last Slayer is a series about fighting demons and vampires while struggling to fit in with all the normal teen angst with the addition of racial and cultural difficulties in a rough urban environment. Take two parts Buffy, two parts Save the Last Dance, and dashes of Boston Public, O, and Dangerous Minds and shake well.

Theme: The themes of the series are all grouped around poverty, racism, and the process of ghettoization. Seasons will focus around questions like: Can teens of different backgrounds learn to work together? Who benefits from racism and segregation? Where does racism start, and how does it continue? While these are serious issues that doesn't meant that they have to be dealt with heavily, and the should not be dealt with philosophically. They should manifest as actual problems that have solutions in actions. Take, for example, the scenes from Save the Last Dance when Chenille and Sara get in a fight over Sara, the white girl, coming into the hood and snatching up the only college bound black boy in the school. It was a real issue, dealt with all sorts of problems, but did so in a practical way that was solved through character actions of patience and friendship.

Production: Hip Hop, sly urban fashions, techno-revolutionishm, and voodoo syncretism will rule the day. The look will be slick, Buffyish but with a level of grime, against which the eye-popping slammin fashions of the characters will stand out. Hip Hop symbolizes the urban fusion of cultures, sounds, and moves that make up a unique but potentially binding fashion and way of seeing. Techno revolutionism takes the tech geek image but adds the wheels of activism and the cyberpunk ideal that "the streets find their own uses for corporate toys." Voodoo syncretism represents the aspects of cultural integration and belief, both good and bad, easy and scary, that replaces Buffy's (now) safe Wicca as the counter-cultural force of magical change.

The soundtrack will have lots of Missy Elliot, Outkast, Beyonce, Freeway, and Santana with occasional salsa and gangsta rap rounding out the diversity.

Characters: General rules for Buffy characters should apply. Hero characters are good for slayers, tough ex-bangers, voodoo priestesses, and experienced watchers. White hats are fitting for everyone else, as even tough inner city kids are still teenagers and aren't really ready to take on vampires.

Genre convention characters would include: the white slayer who's new to the hood, the activist teacher/watcher who is informed, poetical, and down with it (Mr. Campbell or Mr. Morgan from 10 Things I Hate About You), the slayer's best friend who just happens to be a no-nonsense master of urban life, the good kid struggling to not get sucked into gang life, the banger who still has a heart, the activist kid struggling to make the hood a place worth living, the techno-revolutionary, the musician and/or dancer, the capoeira fighter, the bookish girl trying to get out of the hood through study, the jockish boy trying to get out of the hood through sports, the local cop who wants to help, the Obeah worshiper, the Umbanda magician. Really just about any Buffy type can be used, but they should be made hip, urban, and racially conscious in some way -- this isn't Sunnydale, biatch, it's Compton.

Hip Hop could be taken as a wild card skill that covers Acrobatics for dancing only, Influence for fashion and dealing with those in the scene only, Knowledge of fashion, music and clubs, and Language for slang only. It's potent in it's sphere, but that sphere is limited. Fashion Sense could be taken as a new advantage, working just like Appearance except that it works on anyone in the scene rather than just anyone sexually compatible. Thus it'll impress anyone at the club, girl or boy, but won't gain you crap from a cop or teacher.

Magic needs few changes, as much of the voodoo feel can be done with the existing rules. The feel may, however be quite different, and those wanting lots of info should check out the appendix of the Magic Box and GURPS Voodoo. Another route to go with voodoo characters is to make them Tribal Warriors (ala the Slayers Handbook quality) with abilities based on their Loa. A 15 point version of the merit could be taken by those that can switch their Loa (and rearrange their bonuses) with a 2ish hour ritual.

The Big Bad(s): Initial bads will focus on the typical inner city problematic, but with a Buffy twist. Corrupt cops working for sorcerers, vampiric gangs, land-developers and politicians who traffic with demons, and wicked country western pied pipers will all have appearances. Behind it all lurk a pair of really bad and really big forces: Zarabanda and Mbua. Zarabanda is the berserker, the murderer and foul-warrior who uses images of proud African warriors to drive gangs (mortal and vampire) to greater acts of violence, brutality, and racism. Mbua is the Great White Hunter who keeps men in cages before hounding them to death, he uses his image of power, exotic sport, and wealth to drive white developers and politicians towards greater and greater acts of greed and violence. The two are actually working together, playing one side of hate off the other to increase the pain and suffering in the hood until they can summon their brother Ikku -- Death. Once he comes the neighborhood will be turned into a demon realm, a place of endless suffering and death. That is, of course, unless those nosey kids do something to screw up their plans.

The Episodes

DebutThe Slayer comes to the hood and doesn't fit in. Meanwhile zombies are attacking clubs in the area, kidnapping friends of the other PCs. The group gets together to stop badness, hopefully becoming friends in the process.
Focus: SlayerThe Slayer has to confront her outsider status when a demon curses her to make the worst possible impression, leading to fights and accusations of racism.
Focus: PC #2To be decided by plot hooks from PC's background
Continuity A powerful vampire who styles himself after Shaka Zulu starts taking over local gangs and rewarding service with vampirism
Continuity A group of demonic cops comes after the PCs, planting evidence and getting them into legal trouble and eventually trying to kill them
Focus PC #3To be decided by plot hooks from PC's background
Stand AloneA demon claiming to be an angel turns the Christian population of the hood against those practicing other religions in a witch hunt.
Focus PC #4To be decided by plot hooks from PC's background
ContinuityRich white folks, dressed as cops and guarded by a demon bodyguard, come to the hood to hunt the most dangerous game.
Change of PaceAt a football game in a rich neighborhood the PCs are targeted by a cheerleader sorceress who makes "dark mirrors" of the PCs -- villainous duplicates who ruin the PCs relationships and reputations.
Stand AloneWhen one (or more) of the PCs is asked to be part of a music video they come to suspect that the star is a Vampire -- but is he, or is he actually an ally against a common foe? (Of course he is!)
Focus SlayerWhen the Slayer loses her powers she invites retaliation from mortal and vampires alike. Is the the Watcher's test, or is some darker force behind it?
ContinuityA close ally of the PCs is turned into a Zombie, and in trying to find a cure for him they have their first run in with the Voodoo King in his subterranean palace.
Focus PC #5To be decided by plot hooks from PC's background
Stand AloneA Vietnamese student, neglected and despised at school, makes a dark pact that allows him to bring the comics he draws to life. Mayhem ensues as he makes a point that life isn't black and white.
Continuity The Voodoo King sends dream-haunting spirits to start a rebellion at school that could lead to a siege (see Light it Up), and the PCs must deal with it, him, and their own failed dreams.
ContinuityFollowing clues given to them by the Voodoo King, the PCs fight demon warriors and robot-drones to find the identities of the Big Bad and their plan.
Finale The PCs final confrontation with the Twin Bads, including a fight at the top of a skyscraper overlooking the hood, and a possible journey to a hell realm to stop Death from emerging.


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