Jasper Stone backstory (spoilers for Stone & Hard Place)

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John Doe-Smith
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Jasper Stone backstory (spoilers for Stone & Hard Place)

#1 Postby John Doe-Smith » Sun Feb 26, 2017 11:07 pm

1. Why was this information given to the Marshal? It has no bearing on his weakness, the players aren't likely to learn of it (since pretty much everyone who knew is dead), and it reads like someone was going down a checklist of 'serial killer traits'. Did little Japser set fires and wet the bed as well?

2. What about this backstory makes him so tough that his manitou is afraid of him and lets a Reckoner tolerate his backtalk? There were no other 'mad at the world and especially Pa' types around? How is he utterly fearless?

3. Does this mean that historical killers would make good servitors as well? How about Charlie Manson? A number of deaths that certainly spiked the Fear Level for months if not years- even now his name evokes certain reactions among the general public. Heck, one could possibly argue him as a candidate for War (with the right supernatural gifts maybe his 'vision' would become realized) or Pestilence (if his insanity was as communicable as it seemed to be).

What exactly is supposed to be special about Stone other than 'GMPC' being tattooed on his forehead?

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Re: Jasper Stone backstory (spoilers for Stone & Hard Place)

#2 Postby Mavis » Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:53 am

1. A lot of reasons. It helps the Marshal understand the backstory. What does the Marshal use to fill the void which is the absence of that information? There are plenty of other bits of Weird West backstory that are given to the Marshal that do not bear any direct relevance or can be known by the PC's. Maybe the Marshal can use this information, maybe the PC's will choose to investigate Stones past and family?

2. Just because that is how it has been written. How is it that Bilbo Baggins is the hobbit chosen by Gandalf to go on an adventure?

3. Yes inspiration can be taken from anywhere, it is your game, if you want Charles Manson to be a servitor of Death than you can make it so. Personally I think that Stone fits much better as a servitor of Death, he is a lone indiscriminate killer, he is not meddling with politics. Raven suits War as his machinations are at a much higher level, setting nations and communities against each other. And I think the blight of industrialisation that Hellestromme represents perfectly suits Pestilence.

What exactly is supposed to be special about Stone other than 'GMPC' being tattooed on his forehead?


I have always understood GMPC to mean a GM controlled Player Character but Stone does not behave as a GMPC, he does not accompany the PC's, he does not make the players choices for them, he does not always come in and save the day to overcome every challenge to show how great the GM is and how ineffectual the players/PC's are, which are usually considered GMPC traits. Stone behaves like a typical BBEG, with a plan that needs to be foiled by the PC's.

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Re: Jasper Stone backstory (spoilers for Stone & Hard Place)

#3 Postby Erolat » Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:28 am

I think Mavis covered the information well I just want to expand a bit on number one.

Although the "serial killer checklist" may have been checked off in creating Stone's back story it really goes deeper than that. I think the key line is when he tells his brother "I killed ma." Even if that is not exactly true it shows a deep hatred for life and a disconnect to any sort of remorse. Later he orders his men to charge to certain death and they shoot him. When the manitou jumps in to save him Stone's attitude of "hold on, I got some more killing to do" just might cause a manitou to second guess his choise of puppet. When it tried to show Stone a few nightmares his attitude was more "I don't have time for this" than "been there, done that." And when he had his conversation with Death that was exactly the sort of attitude that Death just might respect. In plot point two when the posse goes to the Clanton ranch it specifically states that Stone just sits there and lets Death have some fun before he goes and kills the Earps.

All of this, IMO, adds up to "damn, this guy is cold", a perfect representation of Death. Of all the serial killers I know of only Dhamer had a similar attitude. The rest always had some "reason" for their killing, he was mostly looking for lunch.

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Re: Jasper Stone backstory (spoilers for Stone & Hard Place)

#4 Postby John Doe-Smith » Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:06 am

Mavis wrote:1. A lot of reasons. It helps the Marshal understand the backstory. What does the Marshal use to fill the void which is the absence of that information? There are plenty of other bits of Weird West backstory that are given to the Marshal that do not bear any direct relevance or can be known by the PC's. Maybe the Marshal can use this information, maybe the PC's will choose to investigate Stones past and family?

2. Just because that is how it has been written. How is it that Bilbo Baggins is the hobbit chosen by Gandalf to go on an adventure?

3. Yes inspiration can be taken from anywhere, it is your game, if you want Charles Manson to be a servitor of Death than you can make it so. Personally I think that Stone fits much better as a servitor of Death, he is a lone indiscriminate killer, he is not meddling with politics. Raven suits War as his machinations are at a much higher level, setting nations and communities against each other. And I think the blight of industrialisation that Hellestromme represents perfectly suits Pestilence.

What exactly is supposed to be special about Stone other than 'GMPC' being tattooed on his forehead?


I have always understood GMPC to mean a GM controlled Player Character but Stone does not behave as a GMPC, he does not accompany the PC's, he does not make the players choices for them, he does not always come in and save the day to overcome every challenge to show how great the GM is and how ineffectual the players/PC's are, which are usually considered GMPC traits. Stone behaves like a typical BBEG, with a plan that needs to be foiled by the PC's.


For what purpose? "We found out after investigating that Stone, that guy who's been killing people for for over a decade, killed his family".
1. How would they know? Did Stone leave witnesses?
2. How would that be a surprise to PCs? It's not like he hasn't killed a ton of other people.

So Death saw a psychopath, offered him power, and put up with his attitude instead of choosing one of the OTHER fifty thousand dead at Gettysburg?

The classic books referred to more than one servitor per Reckoner. Has that changed?

Instead he overcomes every challenge (by killing the heroes or dismissing them as 'not worth killing'- how empowering!) to show how great the GM is and how ineffectual the PCs are. To me he comes across as somebody's PC is the 'dark and gritty' era of RPGs who was elevated to GMPC status as a way to show how much cooler he is compared to the lowly PCs.

Plenty of people seem to think he is 'badass' or 'awesome' and shake their virtual heads at the idea of any mere PCs even surviving an encounter with him, much less achieving any sort of victory. Being told that my character "isn't worth the lead" wouldn't make Stone cool, it would just make me feel like I'm playing Call of Cthulhu with a Stetson- actually worse since the Cthulhu deities are indifferent to humanity as opposed to actively hunting them down. Keep playing and you too can eventually be killed by a nearly unstoppable plot device!

BTW what exactly is he doing in Hell on Earth if the Reckoners are dead? Just getting his jollies killing people in the irradiated West? Or did he go back in time AGAIN to make sure that the events of Lost Colony never happened? Or has all that been retconned for Reloaded?

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Re: Jasper Stone backstory (spoilers for Stone & Hard Place)

#5 Postby ValhallaGH » Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:37 am

So, you don't like Stone and want to argue about his existence? Cool, but there's no need to be rude about it.

Aside: At no point in any published materials are the Reckoners killed. Lost Colony told the Marshal how they could be killed, but it never happened. That may change when Lost Colony: Reloaded comes out, but we don't have a tentative date for that yet.
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Re: Jasper Stone backstory (spoilers for Stone & Hard Place)

#6 Postby Cutter XXIII » Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:45 am

My intention wasn't to make a wholly unsympathetic psychopath "cool" or "awesome." As unrealistic and over-the-top as it may be, I intended the backstory to underline the fact that Stone is not awesome. He's evil to the core. He kills for fun. He's overconfident and arrogant and mean. He is not cool.

But by the rules he's completely, capital-I Invulnerable. The Marshal could use that fact to lord it over the characters at every turn, but the Plot Point's goal is to establish him as an un-killable, unstoppable force of nature, and then have the players win in the end by killing him. He exists to be defeated.

From a practical standpoint, Stone's backstory is sprinkled through five or six out-of-print books, so we wanted to collect it all in one place and fill out what was missing. I also like for the Marshal to understand an NPC's motivations. As you rightly point out they're pretty one-dimensional in this case ... but that's Stone.
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Re: Jasper Stone backstory (spoilers for Stone & Hard Place)

#7 Postby Mavis » Tue Feb 28, 2017 1:05 pm

John Doe-Smith wrote:For what purpose? "We found out after investigating that Stone, that guy who's been killing people for for over a decade, killed his family".
1. How would they know? Did Stone leave witnesses?
2. How would that be a surprise to PCs? It's not like he hasn't killed a ton of other people.


Because the players are interested and decide they want to.

Is it better for the GM to just veto any investigation into Jasper Stone's family history or should the GM let them try to find out for themselves and see where it leads? If nothing else a journey to Alabama can make use of some of that superflous backstory you are bemoaning. Furthermore I am sure there are a few clues that could be seeded in any such investigation to enrich the game and maybe help the PC's along the way. For instance I am not so keen on the familial connection of Stone's manitou to one of the PC's and intend to find another way to introduce this so maybe if the PC's do decide to investigate Stone's past I could present a clue foreshadowing the manitous fear of Stone. Whatever I am sure as any such journey unfolded more ideas would come to me.

John Doe-Smith wrote:Instead he overcomes every challenge (by killing the heroes or dismissing them as 'not worth killing'- how empowering!) to show how great the GM is and how ineffectual the PCs are. To me he comes across as somebody's PC is the 'dark and gritty' era of RPGs who was elevated to GMPC status as a way to show how much cooler he is compared to the lowly PCs.


Whereas I see the events of Plot Point 2 to be incredibly empowering because they will make the players really angry and they will be determined to seek revenge. But by then we will have spent 50-60 sessions building up to those events, so that the loss of the Earp's and Doc will hurt so much and the PC's little world will have been shattered! I am really looking forward to it!

I agree about the "isn't worth the lead" line and therefore Stone is going to show no mercy to the PC's either, their lives will be also on the line but I know that the players know how to keep characters alive, they should be almost Heroic at that point, Legendary Bennies should give them a bit of plot armour and I may, if necessary, for this scene only, override Stone's End of the Line ability.

Cutter XXIII wrote:From a practical standpoint, Stone's backstory is sprinkled through five or six out-of-print books, so we wanted to collect it all in one place and fill out what was missing.


As someone who has never played or read any of the old Classic material this is greatly appreciated.

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Re: Jasper Stone backstory (spoilers for Stone & Hard Place)

#8 Postby Clint » Tue Feb 28, 2017 4:25 pm

John Doe-Smith wrote:For what purpose? "We found out after investigating that Stone, that guy who's been killing people for for over a decade, killed his family".
1. How would they know? Did Stone leave witnesses?
2. How would that be a surprise to PCs? It's not like he hasn't killed a ton of other people.


That presupposes the only reason for the GM to know his backstory is to reveal it to the players, as opposed to providing context to be able to roleplay the character or even roleplay other NPCs who had contact with the character.

Since it's a roleplaying game, that obviously can't be discounted, and since the entire campaign hinges on this one character (doubly so in fact), probably best to err on the side of completeness for those GMs who want or need it.

And even that's not the only reason to provide the information to the GM. If a GM wanted to adjust the campaign in any way, then the history provides a context with which to do that and more easily stay within the established story of the setting making it easier to use other products.

And even disregarding all of that, if the players did choose to investigate, then in Deadlands they certainly aren't dependent solely on witnesses (or living witnesses) to gain the information nor would its value solely be dependent on it's "surprise" factor. Just thinking mechanically, that knowledge of Stone's history could provide a strong situational bonus to a Taunt or Smarts Trick against him.

John Doe-Smith wrote:So Death saw a psychopath, offered him power, and put up with his attitude instead of choosing one of the OTHER fifty thousand dead at Gettysburg?


Answered the question in asking. Death saw a psychopath, not just one of fifty thousand other common soldiers. Course as with everything supernatural in Deadlands, context matters as well. This was a psychopath not just killed by a random bullet or even the enemy at all, but by his own side, murdered through conscious action by not just one man but his entire unit.

John Doe-Smith wrote:The classic books referred to more than one servitor per Reckoner. Has that changed?


Only Classic Hell on Earth had multiple servitors and even noted that prior to the apocalypse each Reckoner only had a single servitor, Grimme, Hellstromme, Raven, and Stone. So nope, it's always been that way in the Weird West and nothing has changed on that front.

John Doe-Smith wrote:Instead he overcomes every challenge (by killing the heroes or dismissing them as 'not worth killing'- how empowering!) to show how great the GM is and how ineffectual the PCs are. To me he comes across as somebody's PC is the 'dark and gritty' era of RPGs who was elevated to GMPC status as a way to show how much cooler he is compared to the lowly PCs.


Might be the impression taken but factually inaccurate. Stone's always been an NPC and a "force of nature" so to speak. It's never about making the players feel ineffectual but making their ultimate success all the more meaningful.

John Doe-Smith wrote:Plenty of people seem to think he is 'badass' or 'awesome' and shake their virtual heads at the idea of any mere PCs even surviving an encounter with him, much less achieving any sort of victory. Being told that my character "isn't worth the lead" wouldn't make Stone cool, it would just make me feel like I'm playing Call of Cthulhu with a Stetson- actually worse since the Cthulhu deities are indifferent to humanity as opposed to actively hunting them down. Keep playing and you too can eventually be killed by a nearly unstoppable plot device!


Well, I guess that's possible if the GM runs the campaign in a completely different direction. After all, this discussion is about Stone and a Hard Place, the campaign where the players specifically can achieve victory and the end result is nearly the exact the opposite of that last sentence.

John Doe-Smith wrote:BTW what exactly is he doing in Hell on Earth if the Reckoners are dead? Just getting his jollies killing people in the irradiated West? Or did he go back in time AGAIN to make sure that the events of Lost Colony never happened? Or has all that been retconned for Reloaded?


Well, as someone already mentioned, the Reckoners aren't dead, and so the questions are kind of moot. Even then, if Stone and a Hard Place does anything, it notes that Stone without a purpose means Stone just finds a new purpose...one that involves killin'. ;)
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Re: Jasper Stone backstory (spoilers for Stone & Hard Place)

#9 Postby El Diablo » Wed Mar 08, 2017 1:17 pm

Maybe the debate could be answer by a simple question: Why the servitor of death is Jasper Stone instead of Garret Black?

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Re: Jasper Stone backstory (spoilers for Stone & Hard Place)

#10 Postby StalkThis » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:21 pm

Because Jasper got there first. Garrett Black was a bastard, but his "evil choice" wasn't made until 5 years later, when he killed a man and ate him, and then tried to kill one of the least evil souls in the West.

Stone was a bastard on the "First Thing I do with superpowers is kill my whole family, and torture my dad to death, then hunt down and kill every bastard I've ever had a grudge with" level.

Conversely, Black is a black magic gunslinger with delusions of immortality. He's badass, but he's not servitor level. If it makes a difference, he is A "Grim Servant" (in addition to being a Grimme Servant) of Death, which in my games is the closest thing to Minor Servitorhood in the Weird West.


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