Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Grubbs & Nippy

Grubbs and Nippy were supposed to be comedy relief. In my notes they are barely a footnote, unexplored, and ultimately forgettable. When I put them on the stage at one of my sessions my contributors really enjoyed the way they were portrayed, their interaction, and presence in the story. I never really intended them to be anything more than part of the backdrop. Something about these two appeals to people in a way that was unexpected. This would sometimes happen during the course of the improv theater (AKA Vampire) days where a character intended to be a villain would be so loved by the other participants we'd have to make hasty changes to the story so they can continue to interact with the story in a way that was meaningful.

Grubbs and Nippy were meant to be a tragic display of what it was to be a Creep dwelling in the Penumbra hopelessly disfigured by the darkness. I can remember seeing the sparkle at the table as I walked the Actors through the scene with Grubbs and Nippy. Grubbs wouldn't allow the Shades to walk on the grounds of the Creperum out of reverence for them. He pushed them along a track in a modified roller coaster cart, outfitted with a small co-pilot seat for Nippy with a (non-functioning) steering wheel, cobbled together side-view mirror, and bike bell.

I think what I like about Grubbs and Nippy most is that they are more human than most of the other characters in the story so far. There is something really genuine about them, like I almost envy the honesty of their interactions with each other. I think if you have a friendship with anyone like these two have, you should treasure it forever.


Grubbs stalked through the penumbral ruins seething with unquenchable rage. Every time he dropped his nose to the ground he kept coming up with a false trail. Someone was using his greatest strength against him. Generally, he could just follow his nose to the culprit of any crime, like he could smell their evil down to the smallest molecule.

“No Nippy, this is something far different.”

Nippy’s eyes narrowed as he attempted to summon every ounce of smarts at his disposal to solve the problem. His eyes suddenly lit up and he began warbling and chittering frantically at Grubbs. The large Creep stared balefully down at his tiny ally, a look of inchoate emotion spreading across his face.

“Nippy. Nippy! Slow down, you’re making no sense!” Grubbs exclaimed loudly throwing his wretched limbs out to his sides upsetting the shattered remnants of a wall.

Nippy held up a single finger.

“Okay. One word.” Grubbs blurted impatiently.

Nippy then took out a small collection of bottles and containers arraying them on the ground in front of him. Then carefully began mixing different ingredients into a central bowl while displaying a haughty professorial expression.

“You’re... making something... you’re hungry, you’re making a peanut butter and bacon sandwich.” Grubbs stammered shaking his head.

Nippy shook his head throwing his hands out in front him waving Grubbs off, then pointed assertively to himself, and his expression. Grubbs sneered clenching his powerful fists, unbridled hatred filling his already black eyes like a deadly plague. Nippy turned towards Grubbs holding out his hands and cocking his head as if waiting impatiently for the answer.

“The Alchemist.” Grubbs roared.

Nippy deployed his crooked teeth in a wide smile while ringing a small bell. Grubbs looked back up at the City of Light from his own penumbral position scowling. Nippy quickly gathered up his props and leaped up to a perch next to Grubbs, his large eyes glistening with worry.

“I know. It has used its chemistry to mimic her smell leading us away. We’ve allowed the scoundrel the room to purchase valuable time. It knew, like last time, that the sheepdogs would seek me out for aid. It knew I would employ my usual methodology.” Grubbs whispered to Nippy, his toothy maw carefully dissecting each word.

Nippy warbled discontentedly, his small hands gesturing quietly in the dark. Grubs nodded grimly as he turned taking a step back towards the City of Light. Nippy bounced along behind, his small face secretly filling with sorrow at the predicament the young girl was assuredly entangled. Grubbs sensing his small ally’s distress looked over his shoulder as he walked and extended the smallest amount of comfort he could muster.

“Yes Nippy. When we find The Alchemist, I shall certainly honor your calling of “dibs” on whatever food it possesses.”


  1. One can really identify, personally, with Nippy and Grubbs. That is their magic appeal. I want to be Grubbs.