Today was fun. For small values of fun. I've given up entirely on the idea of using an expert system to assemble the plot, and/or the characters. Instead I've been running a sort-of-algorithm in my head which would be indistinguishable from the sort of advise one would get in a writing class.
I have sketched out the basic plotlines, and then stocked those plotlines with characters. And then gave those characters spouses, lovers, and children. In the end I have 104 named characters, ranging in age from 12 to 58.
The narrative concept for the story is that at age 18, people move out of their parent's housing unit, and get a place of their own in the "Bachelor's Area". Bachelor housing units are basically 12 studio apartments with a common front door in a single structure cell of the ship. (Structural cells are hexagonal rooms, 809 square meters in area.)
Individual units have their own bathroom, plenty of space for personal furnishings and entertaining. The units don't have their own kitchen, but there is a kitchen in the common area. (People are actually encouraged to eat in the ship's dining facilities. More variety, less food spoilage, industrial grade infrastructure for cleanup.)
I have picked 9 characters from my initial 104 to play the part of the player's roommates. They were all born around year 2 of the mission, and are now about 18 years old. Each characters is a child of two of the original colonists who left the Solar System. Most colonists were in their early 20s when the ship's construction and crew recruitment began. Most also arrived on their own and unattached. Many participated in the construction of the vessel.
Because I started with parents, these "roommates" all have families and extended families. There are families with two dads, two moms, and a complicated backstory about surrogate parenthood. There are families where each of the kids has a different last name because Mom and Dad either believe in open relationships, sleep around, or are serial monogamists.
(I don't judge, I just document.)
In addition to the 9 colonists, the housing unit will include an ELF and a DWARF roommate. They are at an equivilent stage of their mental development as the human colonists, though their "calendar" age may be as low as 4.
At this stage in their lives, all of the housemates are trying out different careers to figure out what job suits them. Their academic schooling is complete, now they can get some on the job training and start building their own life.
The main characters:
|Parents:||Steve Patel, Monica Rieid|
Step-Brother of Sydney Park-Rothes. He technically has two Dads (Steve and Adam) and two Moms (Monica and Jennifer), but for Vital records purposes they list is biological Father and biological mother. Steve and Adam are married to each other. Monica and Jennifer are married to each other. The four came to a complex arrangement of surrogate parenthood and shared custody. Growing up they all lived in one big housing unit. Though calling "Dad" or "Mom" could get ... complicated.
He has a younger brother Leonard, and twin step-sisters Ellen and Sydney. Though for all practical purposes the 4 children in the Patel/Ried/Roths/Park household are siblings.
|Parents:||Adam Roths, Jennifer Park|
Step-Sister of Benjamin Patel-Reid. She technically has two Dads (Steve and Adam) and two Moms (Monica and Jennifer), but for Vital records purposes they list is biological Father and biological mother. Steve and Adam are married to each other. Monica and Jennifer are married to each other. The four came to a complex arrangement of surrogate parenthood and shared custody. Growing up they all lived in one big housing unit. Though calling "Dad" or "Mom" could get ... complicated.
She has a younger step-brother Leonard, and fraternal twin sister Ellen. Her birthday is a month earlier than Benjamin's, even though they were conceived at the same time. For all practical purposes the 4 children in the Patel/Ried/Roths/Park household are siblings.
|Parents:||Robert Gillespie, Grace Catanach|
Sally grew up knowing that she was just the first in a series of "happy accidents" on the part of both her Mom and her Dad. She has a half-brother from her mother, Brian. Her father has two other children, Bianca Gillespe and John Gillespe, by two different mothers. Let's just say that between Robert's constant philandering and Graces workaholism, she missed on on any semblance of organized family get-togethers.
In recent years, Sally has started to forge ties with her half-siblings. Sally ended up playing the part of the stable family figure for several. They all still regularly call her, ask her for advice, and stop over for visits. For her part, Sally never forgets one of their birthdays, and she is always the one who arranges holiday feasts.
Sally also grew up with her mother telling her to stay away from Arne, Anastasia, and their families. She also has been witness to some of the shady dealings on the part of her Father. She is childhood friends with Sydney and Ellen
Normally housing tries to separate siblings. However, John's legal rehabilitation program required an adult to supervise him, and Sally was the only immediate family who was in a position to do so.
|Parents:||Shamus and Betty Buchanan|
Geraldine is the oldest child of two farmers. Being of Scottish descent, she has a fiery temper to match her fiery red hair. She has had her fill of the agrarian life, growing up around her parents dairy farm. She is looking to get into at technical field.
She has two younger siblings: Hillary and Samuel.
|Parents:||Michael and April Turner|
Like Geraldine, May grew up in the agricultural area of the ship. But her family worked on the management and logistics side of farming. Her mother is a Botanist. Her father a mechanic. While she has her Mother's brains, and her Father's technical knack, she is actually most interested in settling down and starting a family of her own. Mainly so she can have a daughter named June.
Geraldine has one brother, Michael Jr.
|Parents:||Gustov and Hanna Yoder|
Kathy, as the oldest in a large family, wants to hold off on having a family until she has had time to figure out what she really wants to do for a living. Her parents are both research scientists, so she has grown up being prodded in that direction. Relentlessly. Every Birthday some sort of STEM kit. Every Samtsirhc, some sort of construction block set.
She is tempted to completely rebel and become an artist, or a writer.
Kathy is the oldest of 5. So far. Her younger siblings (in order): Kenny, Karl, Kristoph, Kendra. Her Mom keeps threatening to have more.
|Parents:||George Von Aalen and Helena Tsyganov|
While she lived primarily with her Mother, she would often interact with her half-brother Arne and his younger siblings Bianca and Christian. Helen would later marry Arthur Cook. She has two half-siblings from that marriage, Russel and Bianca.
With Helana's involvement in theater, Anastasia practically grew up either back stage at the local theater or amusing herself in her mother's research lab. She and Kathy were regular playmates growing up (at the research lab). She and Charles hung out at the theater. (And actually she and Charles were each other's first kiss.)
By sheer coincidence two of her half-sisters are named Bianca, AND both have the same birthday.
Growing up, her mother stressed that she had to be careful around Sally and her family. But would never get into why.
While her mother speaks a dizzying array of languages, she insisted that Anastasia and her sister spoke only English at home. Mainly so they would fit in.
|Parents:||George and Maria Von Aalen|
Arne is the oldest son of a museum curator and a forensic accountant. He learned to read at a very early age, and on aptitude tests he could actually pass for an ELF. (Albeit minus the cybernetic enhancements.) He is actually 2 years younger than the rest of his roommates, having excelled at academics and finishing several years ahead.
Growing up, his parents stressed that he had to be careful around Sally and her family. Arne grew up speaking German with a smattering of Russian, while also learning English at school.
At least according to his father George's cover story, Arne's family is part of the Krasnovian nobility. Aalen was the capital of his family's holdings in Baden-Würtenburg. Somewhere in the telling, his father liquidated those holdings to finance a significant chunk of the construction of the Arthur C. Clarke. This makes Arne's family something of Nobility on board, as major shareholders in the Iliad-07 Corporation.
|Parents:||Edward and Linda McCormick|
Charles McCormick is an heir to the McCormick family. His ancestors include inventors and entrepreneurs. His father was the black sheep of the family, and sold off his holdings to finance the construction of the Arthur C. Clarke.
Corporations owned by the McCormick clan designed and built many of the agricultural, educational, and cultural amenities on board. Charles takes no small pride in finding either an Interstellar Harvester or McCormick name on many manufacturing plates throughout the ship.
Charles, himself, is a quiet person. He doesn't try to hide his talents, but at the same time, he doesn't go out of his way to try to impress people either.
Charles' parents work at the fabrication facilities on board. He grew up playing around factories, and while other kids were building with lego he was programming CNC machines to make his own toys.
|Parents:||Robert Gillespie and Karen Swanson|
John grew up the love child of a mob boss and an emergency medic. Growing up he would find himself constantly shifted around various babysitters.
John's father, Robert, is David Springfield's second in command for local government. Robert is also the Consigliere of the local organized crime family. Robert tried, but ultimately failed, to keep John out of the family business.
His mother moonlighted as the spiritual leader of the PETH (People for the Ethical Treatment of Humans)
John has a half-sister, Carla, through his Mother. He has a half-sister Sally through his father.
|Parents:||David and Anya Springfield|
Has a twin brother Maximillian and a younger sister Jennifer.
Growing up, his father always spoke English to him, and his mother spoke Russian. Today his is fluent in both languages.