CoX: Swivel

Time to time, I write up an explication of characters I’ve played in RPGs or made for my own purpose.  This is an exercise in character building and creative writing.

In all technicality, the man known once as Vice Swithin doesn’t exist. He never attended public school, never was recruited into the military at a young age, and was never court-martialed. Officially, he didn’t spend over a year in prison being constantly the subject of assault attempts due to his lean frame and youthful looks, being constantly upgraded in security due to his self-defense capability leading to injured inmates.

Such high-risk prisons were certainly not combed for inmates experiencing minimal deviance from a genetic mean to find strong candidates capable of surviving a protracted full-body implant and neuroconnective surgery. Medical records don’t exist for a process that wired him from heart to head, that upped his reaction time, accelerated his thought process and kept the young man wired on a personal basis alongside the firewalls and flamewars of wireless internet.

One life, redacted.

Vice, known just as Swivel to his friends and fellow agents, is a reasonably quiet young man. Despite his time in prison and the military, he’s an active communicator and seems to bear no particularly ill will towards either establishment. Just as much, he’s very withdrawn on the topic of why he was courtmartialled and incarcerated. Even those first dealing with him find that Swivel is friendly. He’s good-natured, relatively easygoing and when not in the grip of combat, quite well-mannered. While he has the marks of his upbringing – a number of minor surgical scars from military field implants and prison tattoos – Swivel does not go out of his way to conceal them. Perhaps futilely, he tries to act and dress as if he’s a totally normal citizen, drawing minimal attention to the signs of his extreme training and technological augmentation. In fact, the first thing that really strikes people is just what a nerd Swivel is.

He stammers, he shuffles his feet, he adjusts his glasses and he clarifies points of science and history with pretty much no the poise and grace. Stealing glances at girls, keeping his head down, the whole manner completely belies his status as a former prisoner and military special operative. So why the geeky front? It’s not entirely clear. Swivel’s behaviour in prison and the military has all shown that when under pressure, he shifts into a much more lethal mode, dispenses with dialogue, and can often be heard broadcasting classical music as he fights. On the other hand, the nerdy behaviour? Much more likely to be the ‘default’ Swivel, with all of his self-esteem issues and inquisitive, exploratory nature unrestrained.

Somewhat obviously, as someone who’s connected to the internet through his head and uses a smartphone that is very obviously a complete plastic brick. This was once a pretty unique thing in his case but these days it’s reasonably common. His cyborg system is a lot more holistic than normal, and it’s the root of how he’s different to most.


I don’t have mechanics for Swivel. Swivel was a character on City of Heroes live; pictures of him are reconstructed from an old set of costume files, made compatible with homecoming, pictures taken in a friend’s goof-around base. Swivel, back on live, was a claws/willpower scrapper, and when the time came to make things in the new game, I asked myself if I wanted to bring back Swivel, if Swivel’s story, his group, was something to revisit. And I didn’t, and that’s okay.

The bio above is from his Virtueverse page, an archive of my own writing from thirteen years ago. Some of it? Pretty cringe! But the dude is still imporant to me, and he has one particular detail that has endured…


Such as this, from his original character description:

P.R.E.S.S: The Programmed REflexive Synapse System has demonstrated that in order to accommodate the constant rate of human mental modes it requires a fundamental AI that can communicate on a functional level with a Human Operator with Special Training (referred henceforth as HOST). Due to the idea of a clean base-line system, a ‘clean boot’ as it were, we’ve attempted to find candidates for HOST applicants in fields that ensure minimal genetic deviation, prior biological enhancement or magical augmentation of the fundamental systems of the individual…

- Engineer's Summary

The PRESS is a second intelligence that cohabitates Swivel’s body. It oversees his actions, and while he’s not phased by its surveillance[5], it does choose to quip into conversations with observations. The PRESS has a distinct personality, and at times its bickering with Swivel is almost childish. On the other hand, PRESS’ operating parameters include keeping Swivel at his optimum performance. While Swivel’s mental mode is recognisable by PRESS, neither PRESS nor Swivel are completely aware of the others’ thought processes.

original description

I have no idea why I called the AI that lived in Swivel’s head ‘PRESS.’ I don’t know what it was that worked about that name for me, but it meant he had a bind in chat, for whenever I wanted to basically write a meanspirited shitty AI being an unhelpful contributor to a conversation, that prefaced his dialogue with PRESS.exe>.

When this blog was started, in 2013, Fox wanted me to engage with it. She wanted me to care about it. It needed to be a place for my voice, a thing that related to me, and therefore, had my ‘branding’ about it. I don’t know how long it’s been, but you might be surprised to realise that the idea that I have my own identity, my own way of being that is distinctive enough to matter, and that part of finding that has been Fox pointing out to me things that I made, things that stick in other people’s minds and things that express things the way I express them.

There’s a very serious turning point in my life about where she named my blog PRESS.exe and asked me ‘do you get it?’ and watched my reaction. When she did that, the game had been gone for a few months, and there was this… eerie ephemereality to them. All that work, all that creative energy, those ideas, those characters, and they just …. faded away.

I guess what I’m saying here, again, is that I love Fox so much.