The Other Titles Visual Novel Project (OTVNP) is a community effort recently started by Silphychan. While it's currently very very new, we already have some ideas swimming around and some really awesome help onboard. More information will be added here as it comes up. Help is always appreciated, even in the form of ideas or constructive criticism.
Main operations will be held here:
General Story Outline:
So we're in alternate timeline 1882 England. Industrial engines, the understanding of aerodynamics, and steel and mercury metallurgy have developed much earlier.
You are Roland (last name), the son of the clockwork mechanic of Big Ben. Your family has maintained the clock tower for generations- not a very good job, as the job is dangerous and leads to eventual death by mercury poison, and the pay and hours are bad- but that's life.
Your job is soon to replaced by complete automation, in the face of a new technological renaissance. One of the best minds of your era, Professor/Doctor/Steam Mechanic Julius Gladstone, is the pioneer of this industrial revolution. Long story short, by placing the analog computer equivalent of a phonograph cylinder in a machine (called a 'Muse'), you can program this machine to repeat whatever's on the Muse as long as it has power.
This is liable to put more than 70% of the London workforce out of business, and from a political and social perspective, that's bad for the royal family and Parliament. Therefore, Dr. Gladstone has been under constant scrutiny and is criticized night and day about his works, ethics, his working class background ("a traitor to his own"), and so on. He has been working on some odd projects-a 'Muse' with someone's memories and personality written onto it, put into a bipedal humanoid, or into a non-human organic body, for example. When he starts taking on disciples and teaching them his ways of mechanics, but this leads to public (and Parliamentary) outcry, accusing Gladstone of corrupting the youth, slandering other more accepted steam mechanics, heresy (England is still very, very Protestant), and of being a Satanist (though in reality he's Jewish, which led to some enmity against him anyway).
So, he disappears, taking his blueprints with him. This causes an uproar, as well- was he assassinated? Imprisoned? Exiled? Did he escape? Was he still in England? No one could know. His disciples (informally known as 'Musers'), while knowing a bit of his technique, are nowhere near Gladstone's skill and are declared not a threat to ready to rehabilitate from Gladstone's Satanic ways.
You don't like disciples. They only care about knowledge and science and moving forward, but you actually give a damn about the here and now, putting bread on the table. Even so, some of your street punk mates are a bit more in tune with the whole 'new renaissance' thing. They say they have no idea where he went off to; some believe it's the signal for them to go beyond what Gladstone preached, and become even better mechanics. Others (slowly becoming a tech-loving cult, noticeable by their prosthetic steam-powered limbs and body parts) believe the throne put him away- as in, locked away in the Tower of London or dead. Stress can be felt in the streets, as the whole of the city is just a powerkeg of change only needing a spark to go off.
Your father scrapes together all the pounds he can to get you to school, just in case the 'automaton revolution' takes place and the low-class laborers are out of work. So begins your time at Oxford.
Characters and Factions:
Roland Cecil Armis: you, the protagonist. A low-class laborer who helps his father, a clockwork mechanic and clockkeeper, keep Big Ben running. Currently attending Oxford university. Aged 21.
Mildred Holt AKA Zero: leader of the Golden Arm, a technosteam cult obsessed with the progression of technology and its integration into human life, literally and figuratively. Sports a mechanized left arm and right eye (and possible internal organs, unknown) after years of conflict against the Constabulary. Cold, efficient, and downright emotionless, as she believes human passions bring down all things (see: Roman Empire). Her coldness resulted from the death of her parents, who were anti-automation protesters. Carries a hunting watch/locket as a memento from her parents, as she cannot yet muster the willpower to throw away her last tie to them. Light brown hair, one remaining blue eye. Aged 27.
Helena Cromwell: the sole daughter of the House of Cromwell. Her father is a member of the House of Lords, and she is agitated to no end by how he absorbs himself in his work while being out of touch with the outside world. She is a middling-ranked member of the Sons of Steam, and is convinced that the automation of society will be for the best. Tomboyish, refuses to be walked on or her opinions shot down without a good counterargument. Was intelligent to begin with, but her entry into the Sons of Steam has given her an even greater ability with mechanical work and steam engine technology. Blackish-brown hair, green eyes behind a pair of fashionable glasses. Aged 18.
Kathleen Wyatts: The daughter of Lord Wyatts, an aristocrat who has generally fallen out of favor with the rest of the bourgeoisie. While her father and mother don't really give a damn about politics (they're more interested in, you know, survival, good farmland, food on the table, etc.), Kathleen is mortified by this and wishes to be aristocratic to the fullest extent. Therefore, she is one of the top students at Oxford and sees that she will excel at all things she does, especially making a good impression. Lord Wyatts is the one your father went to in order for you to get into Oxford, and Kathleen, of course, disapproves, as you're "a mere lowly peasant". She has a good understanding of what happens at Oxford (as in, the 'relocations'), and is generally supportive of the new steam renaissance. Polite and charming to her superiors, disdainful and snobbish to her subordinates. Often seen with her arms crossed, or with one hand placed under her chin scornfully. Skilled at the violin. Slight figure, despite being somewhat tall. Long dark hair, brown eyes with a hint of gold around the outer rims. Aged 22.
Rachel Ludd: A poor worker from the slums who depends on factory work for her livelihood. Gladstone's work threatens her livelihood, so she is violently opposed to both him and anything that uses his technology. Is part of the Anti-Steam League as a result of this, and knows Mosely through past activities. Rachel knows the harsh realities of being a labourer better than anyone, losing a number of siblings to disease and poor working conditions. Cynical, but mostly keeps it buried beneath a layer of pragmatism; you can't change anything if you're not willing to take action yourself. Always carries her metalworking hammer around with her, to remind herself of what she is fighting for. Most often seen wearing a dull brown overcoat with matching trousers. Illiterate due to her class. Dull red hair, cut very shortly so that it doesn't get caught in any machinery at her workplace. Eyes are a dull grey. Aged 23.
Arthur Armis: Your father. Seen a lot of stuff in his day, his hands are twisted and burnt from years of hard work, but is still the best damn clockkeeper in London. Doesn't like the idea of full workforce automation, but is conflicted, as having Big Ben be automated would mean his son would be able to get out and have a better life. Managed to get his son into Oxford after scraping together all his money, cashing in some old favors, and pulling some strings. Aged 52.
Mosley: one of your street punk friends, lives a life of petty crime and vigilantism. Doesn't give a damn about the new steam renaissance, all that bothers him is that the work of the Golden Arm has led to some of his street punk mates getting hurt. Tall, broad shouldered, muscled, some small scars across his face and entire body. Hooked nose; broken in a bar brawl, never healed quite right. Slight squint in the left eye. Aged 20.
Julius Gladstone: one of the most influential pioneers of the steam renaissance, he has earned many friends and enemies along the way. The sole inventor of the automation device known as the 'Muse'. Aged 64.
John Jackson: Bishop of the Church of England. Not exactly fond of automation (as suffering in life means reward in heaven, and more automation = less suffering, technically), but he doesn't hold any extremely strong views against it. His word holds a lot of sway over the commonwealth, and therefore many are trying to convince him one way or the other. Sees himself as an adoptive father to Kilroy Underwood. Aged 71.
William Gladstone: the Prime Minister of England and one of the bigger supporters of automation, believing that it will boost trade the world over and make for a better world after a short (and painful) transition. Due to the name similarity, people new to England often incorrectly believe he is related to Julius. Aged 73.
Sir Kilroy Underwood: a younger member of Their Majesty's Order of Holy Knights, Underwood is among the best swordsmen and duelists in London. Due to his upraising and station, he stubbornly believes that honor, justice and truth are more important than all things, and uses this to justify whatever gruesome murders the throne may have him commit. Very religious, and often finds himself torn between the Bishop Jackson (who is like a second father to him), and the throne. Was raised in St. Paul's Cathedral after his aristocratic parents were locked away in the Bedlam insane asylum (they attempted to burn him on the altar of St. Paul's, claiming that God had told them to). Despite having no land to his name, his combat skills have allowed him to rise above. Somewhat short and messy brown hair, dark green eyes. Has a bizarre pattern of burned skin on his back, forming a cross. Aged 25.
Aristocracy (The noble toffs)
Sons of Steam (Gladstone's Disciples; drawn mainly from young educated aristocracy, some smarter, mechanics-savvy commoners)
Golden Arm (Technosteam cultists; often sporting techo limbs, generally side with Gladstone)
Church of England (headed by Bishop of London John Jackson; don't believe in technosteam as a answer-to-all)
Constabulary (common police force)
Criminal Investigation Department / CID (plainclothes policemen, often used in sting operations and spying for traitors; under direct joint control of William Vernon Harcourt/Edmund Henderson during 1882)
British Army (more elite units have more mechanized bodies; have been administered with opium-negating drugs after the Opium Wars)
Their Majesty's Order of Holy Knights (best of the best, educated warriors; answer directly to the throne; are pardoned by God and allowed to do whatever it takes to defend the royal blood)
Anti-Steam League: A reactionary movement against Gladstone's inventions. Has both moderate elements (Those who merely want Muses to be outlawed, or at least regulated) and radical elements (Those who want Muses to be destroyed altogether). Though most of its members are from the lower classes, the main leaders are liberal middle class men.