Episode 10: Evergreen
In the impossibly distant future, Penelope and her companions visit the lush, beautiful green world of Cheem, home of the noble Tree People, humanoid descendants of Old Earth’s primordial forests. Unbeknownst to the travellers, their arrival will set into motion the cogs of a long-prepared plan threatening the freedom and the very life of the Forest of Cheem…
A usual, a few notes about this episode:
This story was long overdue, since Penelope and Dorian had been invited to Cheem by the Tree Lady Twane (cousin and lookalike of the beloved Jabe) back in episode 5 of season 13 (yes, that was three seasons ago…), during a brief but memorable encounter in New New York’s hospital. At the time, my intention had been to run a Cheem-based episode before the end of the season but this was not to be, mainly because I couldn’t find a suitable slot in the ongoing season arch and by the end of season 13, Penelope and Dorian had had their own (and quite moving) parting of the ways.
But I kept the “Cheem rendez-vous” idea in store, should Penelope and Dorian get reunited, which they did in our last episode. The presence of Penelope’s other current companion, the young Xara Anderson, a would-be ethnologist-planetologist, made the green world of Cheem an even more relevant choice of destination for their reunion trip…
The episode obviously made heavy use of RTD-era lore – the Forest of Cheem, New Earth (which Penelope and her friends will visit next episode!) as well as the main villain of the story, who was none other than a certain Lady Cassie, clone-child of the original Lady Cassandra and heiress to her fabulous fortune (and an interplanetary corporate empire known as Cassandra Unlimited), still looking like a beautiful woman in her twenties, since she was only in her eighties… And unlike her progenitor who found redemption at the moment of her death, this Lady Cassandra was as callous, greedy and narcissistic as the original when she first appeared in The End of the World.
Due to the structure of the story (and to her role as the hidden mastermind of a very ugly corporate conspiracy), Lady Cassie remained mainly off-stage, appearing only in a single scene (and as a hologram!) but she’ll definitely play a prominent role in our next episode, which will see an angry Lady Penelope take the fight against Cassandra Unlimited to New New York (more on that below* and next week).
The plot dealt (quite predictably) with ecology, as well as with politics (we could sum up the main themes as political independence and ecological integrity), allowing me to develop my own version of the Forest of Cheem’s society, which I divided into two opposite political factions: the Anthropophiles (eager to preserve and even strengthen their ancestral ties to Humanity) and the Primordians (in favor of an isolationist return to roots). In the end, the two factions had to unite in order to save their beloved world from either ecological destruction or corporate enslavement, heralding a new age for the Forest of Cheem…
And of course, this particular Gordian Knot could only be cut by the Lady Penelope, using her current incarnation’s unique connection to the power of primal Earth. This special link, which owes to the circumstances of her last regeneration (see episode 3 of our last season), already played a significant part in some of our latest episodes… Wait, could this be the hidden theme-meme-McGuffin of the current season? Well, only Time will tell.
* POST SCRIPT: NEXT EPISODE
Originally, our next episode was supposed to be a New Earth-based futuristic yet retro mobster story, somewhere between “Dick Tracy” and “Judge Dredd”, called (you’ve guessed it) “Gangs of New New York” (too hard to resist, eh?) but since Penelope’s player has decided that foiling Lady Cassie’s Evergreen scheme was not enough and that she deserved a swift, devastating and fully-fledged riposte (yes, episode 10 ended up on a somewhat Time Lady Victorious vibe), I’ve decided to throw away “Gangs of New New York” to the scrap heap to cook up a direct follow-up story to “Evergreen”, set in New New York and centered on the clash of these two very special Ladies.
This will give me the opportunity to fully play Lady Cassie (whom I already planned to keep in store for a future comeback, since she makes such a perfect ‘reverse image’ foe for our Time Lady), while making Penelope’s own decisions the “prime mover” of the story – something that does not happen that often in an ‘adventures-in-time-and-space’ type campaign, where things tend to follow a ‘destination of the week’ pattern. As a GM, I always try to favor players’ ideas and decisions over preplanned possibilities and Sylvie’s choice to initiate a “round two” against Lady Cassie (which really flowed logically and made perfect sense in actual play) gives me the perfect opportunity to do so.
So it’s adios “Gangs of New New York” (hey, I even have my own Lost Stories now!) and hello “Untitled Episode” – see you next week for the actual title, the blurb and some after-play notes.