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As I was planning the finale event for The Watchmaker, I was ready to come up with something new to take its place after Agent Harris did his thing. The Watchmaker had been more successful than I’d hoped as both a story and a cooperative event on Vector, the hostile server of all places. I wanted to try my luck on the other servers, where I didn’t have as much experience with the players.

Instead of making a specific storyline, I wanted to create a platform for competitive fun and games within the city.  It was something that didn’t really exist at the time as a character, as Rare hadn’t created The Effectuator yet. I was a little disappointed when he ultimately did, as there were many similarities between the personalities and characteristics of both (wacky mannerisms, existing in multiple shells, doing crazy things) and the Jokers lost a bit of their uniqueness and seemed more like a knock-off of a story character to many players.

I settled on the idea of a clown early, as clowns are associated with fun and games while retaining a sinister and jovial malice. It took me a long time to settle on a proper name for this character, which was intended to exist on all three servers concurrently. The name had to be unique for each server, meaning I’d need 3 different names. Also, I’d learn that ? ! and ~ weren’t viable options in character creation. I considered purely numerical names, as with 10011, but they didn’t capture the tone. In the end, I begrudgingly went with a deck of cards, creating TheJokerOfSpades on Vector, TheJokerOfClubs on Recursion, and TheJokerOfDiamonds on Syntax. Where was the joker of hearts? It allowed for a lot of jokes about not playing with a full deck, although I was smart enough to realize to claim and delete the name before anyone else did.

It was around this time that I saw V for Vendetta, another Wachowski film and was caught by the idea of a mask. Unfortunately, Rare wouldn’t throw any Assassin’s Masks my way. Fortunately, there were red and black bandanas in-game, which brought me to the red and black color schemes for the Jokers. Spades dressed for business on the hostile server, Clubs dressed for… clubbing, and Diamonds dressed in as fancy red clothing as MxO had to offer.

My early attempts to get the Jokers noticed had me showing up at all the live events, spying from adjacent rooftops. I really tried not to crash any of Rarebit’s events but I was also very excited to get the characters noticed. The Jokers initial notoriety was not for their mannerisms or ability to show up in all the right places, but the /backflop suicide macro that I used to end conversations with players. I didn’t expect that to be the thing they became noticed for, but whatever works.

Trying to get noticed by Nintene and Ioffryd.

I started with my plan to provide fun and games on various servers, although it was hard for me to farm $info for rewards on any server but Vector (where I already had 2 50s) and there was no way for LESIG to request in-game rewards at the time. On Vector, I had assassination contests where a riddle would give away the target’s handle. Although to my surprise, one day a combined group of Zion, Mero, and Mach confronted the Joker of Spades and said no. They decided that there was a sinister motive behind the killings and refused to participate, putting their personal animosities aside to rally against what they perceived to be a common threat. That was the second time Vector surprised me with their RP.

TheJokerOfSpades waiting for them to kill each other.

I recall doing some games of hide and seek in the city where I gave out cryptic clues to my location. In place of monetary rewards, I’d give the winner a chance to play “20 questions” with the Joker, where they could ask me 20 yes or no questions. Naturally, nobody used specific enough phrasing, allowing the Joker to get away with misdirection more than enough times.

It was from these events and the players’ suspicions that the Jokers were up to something, that the actual 991 storyline was born. The players’ own gossip and accusations shaped the story that I created, which in turn caused me to write some supplementary reports for each organization that gave away portions of 991’s backstory, eventually leading to the research notes of Doctor Rajlich.

Me asking Nicks what to name the doctor who was hunting 991 before being killed by lupines. Doc Rajlich is born!
Soon the Jokers were drawing crowds.

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