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ZETA

Zeta is a talented and clever compulsive gambler, who has managed to crack the mystery of using more than one Alteration Implant at will.


What is the character’s name?

Almost everyone knows this character as Zeta. Zeta is a letter from the Greek alphabet and its numerical value is seven. It is also used in a variety of mathematical and scientific formulas such as the Riemann Zeta Function, the effective nuclear charge on an electron, the electrokinetic potential in colloidal systems, and more. Zeta earned her nickname when she was fifteen after an impressive and high stakes victory in a game of Sevens against a veteran player, which marked her first major gambling win. Her stunning victory in that game, along with her passion of science and engineering made Zeta a natural and intuitive name for that character. Within gambling and gaming circles, she is sometimes referred to as Lucky Zeta. Zeta’s given name is Jenna Starling, although, only close friends, family, and official records are privy to it. Zeta is 25 years old when we are introduced to her.

What are their personality characteristics/traits?

Zeta is a very talented gambler and excels at skill-based gambling games such as Poker, Sevens, and more. While she plays she is rather talkative and enjoys taunting and distracting her opponents through conversation. Her confidence in her own skills and performance oftentimes manages to intimidate other players alone. She has an excellent read on people, which helps her determine what other players are planning and how to react to their strategy. Zeta gambles for the sake of gambling, rather than for any material or financial gains she might obtain, which makes her a very dangerous player. She enjoys the rush of high stakes games, and she is known to have bet nearly everything she has. For her what matters is having an exciting game, which often prompts her to make such bold moves. Most of the time her strategy and play style works in her favor, placing Zeta among the top most prominent and wealthy gamblers in the city.

Zeta is exceptionally inventive and has the mind of an engineer and mathematician. She is greatly interested in how given objects work, what the core principles behind their functions are, how to construct and deconstruct them. In her spare time, she often takes certain pieces of equipment apart, analyses them, figures out what each individual part does, and then puts the entire object back together, often improving it from its original state. This gives her an excellent understanding of how technology functions, constantly improving her analytical skills and intuition for it. She is fascinated by technology and constantly searches for ways to improve what’s already available. She applies the same way of thinking to day to day problem-solving as well as abstract concepts and ideas.

Zeta is exceptionally inventive and has the mind of an engineer and mathematician. She is greatly interested in how given objects work, what the core principles behind their functions are, how to construct and deconstruct them.

Zeta is a gamer in every sense of the word. She adores gambling, video games, and board games and spends most of her time gaming in one of those forms. She is ambitious, competitive, an achiever according to Bartle’s Player Types, and a completionist. Because of her successful career as a gamer, Zeta is quite confident and can even be rather over-confident. She has been known make occasional witty remarks while playing and to take great glee in her victories, often taunting the losing party. As focused as she is whenever she is gaming, she is rather casual and easy-going in her personal life. She can be very lighthearted, gets along well with most people, and has a fantastic sense of humour. She is not one to shy away and can freely talk to almost anyone. She does not usually hold grudges and has excellent control over her emotions. Although she appears to be rather social and is often the heart of the company, she does not have many close friends and is not quick to open up. She is the type of person that does not let it show when something is going wrong and is skilled at concealing her true feelings when she needs to. However, that doesn’t mean that her emotions never slip through.

What does their voice sound like?

Zeta’s voice is rather calm and relaxing normally, it’s neither too high or low pitched. She has a slight American accent and tends to speak up with confidence. Her voice and intonation inspire respect and usually make people listen to her whenever she speaks.

Who are their parents?

Zeta’s parents are high profile business owners, running a well-established bio-engineering and technology firm called Starling Alters. They deal in the invention and production of equipment for the medical field, and especially the distribution and production of Alteration Implants. Zeta’s father, Edward Starling, has a Telekinetic Alter, which makes him an excellent chief of the Medical Technology wing of the company. Edward and his team deal with distributing and implanting the Alters based on the needs of each business that requires them. Zeta’s mother, Anna Starling, has a Flux Alter, which makes her the head of the Technological Innovation and Development wing of the company. Anna is responsible for researching and developing new technology and improving the current Alteration Implants. Both Edward and Anna have always had high hopes for Zeta, investing in her education and raising her to take her natural place within their business. However, those expectations have made them increasingly strict and harsh towards Zeta, never giving her room for error or growth outside of this path.

Has anything special ever happened to them?

Zeta has always wanted to be an engineer and an inventor, much like her mother. In this society, certain professional opportunities are only open to people with the right set of Alteration Implants, and unfortunately each individual is generically compatible with only one type of Implant. This means that each person can only use one special ability that they have the right genes for. Adults have the option to receive Alters as they are entering a professional field that may require it. Ever since she was a child she has wanted to be compatible with the Flux Alter, which would then provide her with the opportunity to work in the STEM fields, where she would be able to research new technology and create revolutionary hardware. Unfortunately, once she was tested, it was discovered that she is actually compatible with the Telekinetic Alter. This was absolutely heartbreaking for Zeta as that Alter immediately locked her out of her goal to be a successful engineer, and instead allowed her to work only in the fields of medical implants and distribution and the service industry. It should be noted that although nothing is legally preventing individuals with any type of Alter from applying to any position, employers are interested in always hiring the most qualified candidate, which unfortunately means that people with the right type of Implant are statistically more likely to perform better. This means that the biologically compatible candidates would always win over those who are not in the respective fields.

This was absolutely heartbreaking for Zeta as that Alter immediately locked her out of her goal to be a successful engineer.

With her Telekinetic Alter, Zeta began work in her father’s wing of the business, however, she quickly learned that it was not for her. Her job involved taking the Alteration Implants from her mother’s wing of the company and then delivering them to other business and organisations. After making her deliveries, Zeta was then on-site with the organisation that needed them in order to implant the Alters into their new staff. The procedure of implanting the Alters is virtually the same every time. The Alter has a main body, with a distinct shape for each of the possible Alter types, and dozens of thin metal tails stemming from it. To implant the Alter, Zeta is to connect the tails to the appropriate nerve endings within the body, most commonly throughout both arms and inside of the brain. After the tails have been implanted, the main body is attached to the user, most commonly on their arm. In addition to the implanting procedure and the delivery across the city, Zeta’s job also included a variety of paperwork to authorize and record each implant procedure.

Day in and day out, Zeta was forced to do the same activities over and over again as part of her professional obligations. Although it was mildly entertaining in the beginning, she quickly grew bored of the repetition. What made matters worse is that her profession was so time-consuming that she did not have time to game, gamble, or improve her engineering skills the slightest. Faced with a lifetime of boredom ahead of her, Zeta made the radical decision to leave it all. She decided that she would not work in any of the approved Telekinetic Fields, and would rather go out on her own and take up gaming professionally. Despite the disapproval of her family, Zeta left their business and moved to the greatest city for gambling in the world.

Do they have any fears or phobias?

Zeta does not have any particular phobia, however, the one thing she hates most in the world is feeling bored. Boredom is the ultimate torture to her and she is willing to go to extremes to keep herself entertained. For example, if she feels like a game of poker might be too boring for her, she would be willing to throw the game in order to make it more exciting.

Where do they live?

Zeta lives in this universe’s equivalent of Las Vegas, a city filled with near infinite gaming opportunities, dozens of places to gamble, with thousands of the best players in the world. All casinos and gambling halls within this universe are regulated and all Alteration Implants are disabled within gaming buildings. This ensures that cheating through them is impossible. Alters are typically located on the arms of their users and are disabled through the use of a device designed for the purpose, which only requires the device to hover over the implant. No other piece of technology is checked as people are unaware it is possible to channel these abilities through other tech. This is a large part of the reason why Zeta has been able to sneak her artifacts such as dice or poker chips into the casino and use those special abilities to gain an edge. The city itself is rather hot and densely populated, with more and more people migrating to it. Nightlife is among the best in the world, with grand light spectacles and beautiful clusters of neon scattered throughout its streets and open areas. One can always hear the sounds of people buzzing, pounding music from the nearest club, bottles shattering, and the occasional drunken singing. Most living complexes within the city are rather small due to the large number of people that populate it, and only the very wealthy have large and spacious flats.

Key Colour Palettes for Zeta’s Formal Attire, as many casinos require a dress code.

Key Colour Palettes for Zeta’s Formal Attire, as many casinos require a dress code.

Do they have any special powers?

Zeta has a Telekinetic Alter. Before entering a professional field, those who wish to in this universe undertake a medical examination, which determines which Alteration Implant one is compatible with. Compatibility is purely based on genetics and works in a similar manner to blood types. Humanity has invented a series of Alteration Implants, each one providing individuals with certain enhancement and abilities. A single person can only be compatible with one implant, thus everyone has the ability to control one power. Alteration Implants or Alters are completely legal and even endorsed by the government. Certain firms and research groups create the Alters, while others distribute and implant the them into employees. Starling Alters, the family business, is a pioneer of that industry. The available Alteration Implants are used in the following industries:

  1. Telekinetic - Service Industry, Nursing, Building, Implanting Alters, Military

  2. Flux - Engineering, Computer Science, Chemistry, Robotics, STEM

  3. Morph - Entertainment, Film, Theater, Military, Espionage

  4. Teleportation - Transportation, Law Enforcement, Military

  5. Defensive - Firefighters, Law Enforcement, Military, Mining, Dangerous Professions

  6. Light - Agriculture, Ecology, Show Business, Entertainment

  7. Sound - Navigation, Military, Show Business, Entertainment, Ultrasonic Engineering

  8. Stopping Time - Secret Services, Military, Law Enforcement, Security

What makes Zeta special in this universe is that she is the only individual who has figured out how to make use of the Alteration Implants without implanting them into a human being. This allows her to use more abilities than the one she is genetically compatible with. Through her engineering skills and her intuition for technology, Zeta has managed to incorporate them into modified a poker chip and six-sided dice, allowing her to some of the abilities available. The reason Zeta has chosen to incorporate the spells into a poker chip and dice specifically is because she could use those modified artifacts to gamble. Additionally, as an avid gamer, she has a certain affinity towards them. It should be noted that in the beginning of the narrative, Zeta had only developed a modified Poker Chip, which contained the Alter for Stopping Time. This would help her in tough situations when gambling. The set of three dice was developed later on out of necessity. For more information on these events, please refer to the narrative section of this GPP. The way the dice would be used in gameplay would also perfectly feeds into her character. Zeta does not like certainty, she enjoys risk-taking, so consequently the player should get a similar feeling while being that character. One would have access only to the abilities rolled by the dice, just the way Zeta would like it. This would incorporate problem solving with the hand you were dealt, the way the dice fell, rather than having all abilities all at once.

What is a typical day like for your characters?

As Zeta usually goes to sleep at about 5 AM or 6 AM, she tends to wake up at around noon or at about 1 PM. Once she is up, she is rather casual and stays at home for a couple of hours or more, taking time to wash up and prepare for the day. Zeta dresses rather casually at home, staying primarily in her undies and a tee, as that is how she feels most comfortable. She has a light and easy to prepare meal such as cereal or a sandwich, whilst spending some time online, watching videos or browsing through the Tech section of her preferred news outlets.

After she has finished her meal, she then logs on to play a few matches online. Although she is a skilled esports player, she rarely plays video games professionally as there is little risk associated with them, making them far less exciting to her than gambling. She has been invited to join professional teams and leagues, however, the commitment they would require of her would interfere with her other hobbies and interests. Whenever she feels in the right mood, she takes a few hours of the day to work on her engineering skills and to explore a variety of hardware projects she is working on. Other times she deconstructs different pieces of technology and even weapons in order to understand their internal mechanisms. In the afternoons and early evening, Zeta enjoys going out to some of the best known board gaming circles in the city. She has a standard group of close friends she most commonly plays with for fun. She occasionally joins competitive play as well, however, she very rarely plays in more than one tournament for the year.

Once she has had enough board games and video games for the day, Zeta returns home to prepare for the upcoming night. She usually has a larger meal accompanied by a drink. After she is done with her dinner, Zeta gets ready for the casino, dressing in attire fit for some of the highest-stake gambling sessions of the evening. Some of the casinos she attends have a strict dress code, requiring a dress and high heels. Although she has learned how to wear high heels out of necessity, Zeta is the type of person to instantly take them off once her feet are hidden beneath the table. From the moment Zeta arrives in the casino, all the frequent gamblers know who has entered. Everyone knows that a match with Zeta is guaranteed to be excessively high in risk and usually involves the best players in the city. Zeta has such a great understanding of her opponents and game mechanics that if she spots a player cheating, which happens frequently, she would rather counter their cheat with her Poker Chip, rather than call them out. This technique makes the game infinitely more fun for Zeta, because it decreases her chances of winning, increasing the risk, and thus the thrill. After hours upon hours of play, she then returns home and sleeps through the morning until noon.

Concept Piece for Zeta Enjoying a Astounding Victory

Concept Piece for Zeta Enjoying a Astounding Victory

How would you describe where they grew up?

Zeta grew up in a large and wealthy capital city, which specialises in the production and development of new technology and Alteration Implants. Its streets are clean and tidy, decorated with plants and vegetation, while most buildings are large glass skyscrapers. This is a technological centre within this universe, the place to be if one wishes to develop tech. Many other businesses and services have had the opportunity to thrive within this city, making it a vibrant and full of potential. It’s an ideal place for working professionals to raise a family, as it is also home to some of the most prestigious academies and universities in the world.

Zeta’s family lived in a large maisonette, located on one of the more peaceful neighbourhoods in the city. She was largely raised within the office spaces and labs of her family’s company, as both her parents needed to be on-site, which is why they took her along most days. It was then that she first developed her interests in deconstruction and engineering, and also where she developed her fascination for Alters. When she was left alone in the labs, she would often fiddle and play with any equipment she could get her hands on, often infuriating her parents. Later on, when she started school and high school is when she first started showing her talents at gaming. Each recess she would play with her classmates, improving exponentially with each game and doing anything in her power to avoid boredom. As she got older, the games she would play got more mature. By the time she went to high school, Zeta had already earned the reputation of a outstanding gambler and gamer. It was around that time that she entered her first professional gaming tournament. Her stunning victory at a game of Sevens is what earned her the nickname Zeta.

Zeta’s academic life was never an issue for her. She continuously earned top marks in her classes, which pleased her strict parents. Her high performance throughout her academic career is why they permitted her to pursue her gambling hobbies on the side. Although her favourite subjects were Mathematics and Physics, she also showed significant skills in Computer Science, Robotics, and Critical Thinking. Her successful academic career secured her places in the top institutions for higher education and among the best academies that train users how to control their Alters efficiently.

Do they have any pets?

Although she is exceptionally fond of cats, Zeta does not currently have any pets. As she is out of her home most of the time, she is concerned that if she were to have a pet, it would be rather lonely and unhappy.

Do they have a job, if so what?

As described above, Zeta is among the top gamblers within the city. Her incredible gambling career has secured her extraordinary funds, however, she lives rather modestly. Zeta gambles for the freedom it provides her with, for the thrill of the risks, for the game itself. Financial gains are merely a by-product of her hobbies.

What are their ambitions?

Zeta’s primary goal and motivation is to constantly be challenged and provoked to think, analyse, strategise, and deconstruct, to be continuously thrilled and excited, to never be bored. She is usually engaged in some sort of activity that requires extreme focus and concentration, pushing herself to the limit. She hopes that her inventions will revolutionise the way humanity operates and will benefit humans and their way of life, much like the Alters have.

What do they eat/drink?

Zeta is not very particular about what she eats and tends to get what’s most convenient. She enjoys light meals, fast food, and adores sweets as they energise her. Occasionally she enjoys treating herself with some more exquisite meals, however, she does not over-indulge. Zeta drinks substantial amounts of energy drinks as they help her focus on her gaming. She also greatly appreciates whiskey, which is why she usually has a small glass every night before gaming.

Other notable traits:

Zeta is not currently in a serious relationship, however, she occasionally has casual encounters. Zeta typically prefers cold and vibrant colours such as ultramarine, magenta, and cyan. However, when it comes to her clothing, she tends to opt for more neutral colours such as black, white, and grey. Zeta is a tall and elegant woman with an attractive hourglass figure. She is rather low-maintenance and only wears heavy makeup for her most important gambling sessions.

Early Concept Piece for Zeta in a slightly more three-dimensional style, but still with the same large eyes and full lips.


Questions You May Have

  1. Why does Zeta only have 3 dice? Why doesn’t she just make a die for each power that has one type of ability on each side?

    • Before becoming changing her profession and becoming a professional gambler, Zeta used to work in her family’s company implanting and distributing Alters. In order to showcase all of the different types of Alters to clients, Zeta had a portfolio of Implants with her, which only contained a limited number of them. After quitting her job, Zeta only had the Alters from that portfolio available to her, which is why the system she has come up with is most functional for the number of different chips she had. Alters are difficult to come by, and had she not had that profession beforehand, she likely would not have had access to them.

    • Additionally, thus far three dice seem to provide players with the right number of abilities to solve levels. When testing the paper prototype, players typically needed at least three powers to solve the level, which leads me to believe that three dice would work quite well for the finished version as well. Although this is the current plan, it may very well change after further user testing sessions.

  2. Why does Zeta not make it so she has a dedicated die for each of the three abilities?

    • Since Zeta’s Poker Chip, which contained the Alteration Implant for Control Over Time, was taken away from her, she knew that there was a risk of the same happening with the dice. That’s why she wanted to ensure that if one die was taken, then she would still have access to as many abilities as possible. For more detail on the specific events that occurred, please refer to the Narrative Section of this GPP.

  3. Did she have any telekinetic implants?

    • Zeta has Telekinesis naturally, which is why she never needed to create any artifacts with those Alters.

  4. Why do the dice need to be manipulated with telekinesis at all? Why can’t they just be manually turned around?

    • The dice work through the application of a downward force on a very sensitive pressure pad. This means that only the upward facing power can be used at a time. The activation process is very quick which makes dexterity based manipulation near impossible, particular in scenarios that require discrete or sudden reactive movement. The only way for her to activate the desired ability quickly enough is to use her Telekinetic power to ensure the dice will land on the side she desires from the first time round.

  5. How do the dice reset?

    • After each use of an ability the pressure pad is reset using an elegant spring mechanism. Overall, the dice are very well crafted and professionally designed.

  6. Why is it that Zeta can decide when to use each power from the three she has rolled?

    • The use of each power represents Zeta’s reaction as it takes place in the universe. Rolling all the dice at the same time allows the player to forward think Zeta’s strategic decisions. In the game universe, Zeta would likely be solving the levels much quicker, however, the game does give enough time for the player to make educated decisions about what they would like to do.

  7. Why does Zeta use dice? Wouldn’t some other kind of device work just as well?

    • Zeta has a strong affinity towards gambling and dice games, which is why a set of dice and has a special place in her heart and could be used to give her the edge. Pragmatically speaking, dice are innocuous enough objects to be overlooked by implant-disabling scanners in the casinos she attends and those seeking Zeta’s technology. They are small, pocket-sized and easy to manipulate in tense situations.

  8. How are the powers activated in the dice channeled through Zeta? How can she use those abilities when the activation process takes place in them?

    • Zeta has managed to engineer a conduit into her own telekinetic Alter, which allows these abilities to flow through it. The Alteration Implants require genetic material to function, so the dice function like a remote control and an extension of herself rather than the basis of the powers themselves.

  9. Does that mean that no one except Zeta can use the dice?

    • Yes, these dice have been tailored to Zeta’s genetic material and extend her own capabilities only.

  10. If someone else was rolling the dice would that mean that Zeta could use the powers that were rolled?

    • Yes, within a certain range. I have even been considering a fun level where Zeta’s dice are captured by the enemy and she has to find a way to retrieve them based on what they would roll.

Blog Posts Relevant to the Character Design Section: Week 7: Project Proposal 4, Week 11: Initial Iterations of Zeta, Week 11: Character Design for Zeta.