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Old 03-21-2016, 08:17 PM   #31
robkelk
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Default Re: Clothes

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
I've got more questions:

19) Who makes the clothes that the people of Aroostook County, Maine, wear every day? What are popular jeans models in rural areas in 1988? Work shirts? Shoes? Coats?
--19a) What about hunting season? In 1988, who makes the orange vests, hats and warm weather clothing that Mainians put on for hunting?
--19b) What about blizzards? What does someone put on during one and who makes that kind of wear?

20) What are leading outdoors or hunting wear brands that someone who shopped in New York, Connecticut or Boston might buy?
--20a) What about bags, gun cases and accessories? What brands are popular for affluent hunters there?
They'll probably be buying all of this from L.L. Bean. Their flagship store in Freeport, Maine, opened in 1917 and has only been closed for four days since then - otherwise, it's been open 24 hours a day. (Their stores in Ellsworth and Bangor are not open around the clock.)

During a blizzard, one normally stays indoors if at all possible; it's far too easy to lose your way in the whiteout conditions and die of exposure, even in suburbia. It isn't always possible to stay home, of course - one wants sturdy, warm boots and warm clothing (including a winter coat with a hood) if one absolutely must venture outside in a blizzard.
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Old 03-21-2016, 08:36 PM   #32
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Hip and cool local kids who go to college in urban areas* drink vodka, but what brand? Absolut had a successful 1980s ad campaign and is fairly upscale. Would it be appropriate? Smirnoff is a stalwart seller in much of the world and in the US when I've visited in the 1990s and later, would that hold true in New England in 1988?

What about gin? Canadians make a lot of gin and it's certainly common across the border. Would Mainians buy Seagrams gin or was there no culture for gin drinks in 1980s America?
The vodka of choice is probably Absolut - still a favorite when I went to college 5 years later - or the cheapest local brand, which would be some bargain distillery based on a local landmark. You wouldn't be wrong to call it "River City" as a generic name, but there may be something more appropriate.

7-and-seven (Seagram's 7 and Seven-up as a slightly sugary gin-and-tonic) would an uncommon but not unknown cocktail in 1980s. Or simple gin and tonics or sloe gin fizzes.
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Old 03-21-2016, 08:38 PM   #33
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

I haven't read all the other replies yet, so these are still undiluted by other opinions ...

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Cars

3) What are some popular four-wheel drive vehicles within a comfortable middle-class budget in the period?

4) What are the best economy vehicles made in the 1970s and 1980s to use in the northwest part of Aroostook County, Maine, assuming that the ability to drive in snow and over bad roads is sometimes required?
Toyota tercel. My family had a few of these when I was a teenager in the '80's. They were tough, rugged, reliable, relatively compact (but wagons, so you could fit a lot in), and did well in snow and ice.

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Guns

6) What are some 1980s hunting rifle brands and models that mark the owner as having good taste, some degree of knowledge and enough means to indulge when it comes to hobbies?
Weatherby Mark V? Weatherby makes nice hunting rifles that are not exactly cheap.

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Gadgets

9) What are nice complicated 80s gadgets for a young female FBI agent from California to own in order to characterise her as 'modern', 'rich' and lacking in real-world experience?
--9a) I'd like some sort of bizarre 80s multitool, preferably with electric components and far too big for the intended purpose, but including a lot of nifty things that a geek might enjoy having on them at all times. It can be something for a purse, not a pocket, if necessary.
--9b) Would there be any consumer electronics that might be given to a young woman leaving home to become an FBI agent (or received as gifts after leaving, as her parents continue to treat her warmly, indulge her and wait for her 'rebellious phase' to blow over)?
[She's from a very rich family, her father is the founder/CEO of a fast-growing defence contractor who makes guidance chips for missiles and she had every adventage growing up. She is a total wunderkind, baby ballerina, music recitals, gymnastics and straight As in everything, but no time for friends or normal socialisation, only organised extra-curricular activities. Computer Science degree from Stanford. Is now suffering from late-onset teen rebellion which is expressed on one hand through seeking a 'lowly' government job and on the other, through her trying to develop a 'hip', 'street' demeanour, mostly from MTV.]
Walkman. Plays cassette tapes, of course.

Personal computer, either IBM or Apple. Don't forget the 5 1/2" floppies, holding a whole 1.2 MB!

Boom box. Also for tape cassettes.

Atari.

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11) How are records of things like criminal convictions, arrests and gun ownership likely to be stored in Maine at the end of 1988? Paper? Microfiche? Early computers?
--11a) How long does it take for someone at the Maine State Police to look up what guns are registered to a certain individual in the state? What about criminal records?
Guns in the U.S.A. are not registered. The closest would be concealed carry permits.

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Consumer Goods

12) What is the most popular soft drink in northern Maine at this time?
--12a) Are the PCs more likely to find Coke or Pepsi for sale in diners and gas stations?
Coke and Pepsi. Either/or. 1985 was the time of the whole New Coke debacle, so have some fun with that.

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13) Are there any types of candy, delicacies, soft drink, bubblegum, cigarettes or other consumer goods that are characteric of 1980s America,
Hershey chocolate? Starburst? Skittles? You've got the whole Reese's Pieces/E.T. connection thing from 1982.

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Old 03-21-2016, 09:21 PM   #34
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

Maine local soda I saw someone mention and wanted to concir: Moxie. It's like the Dr Pepper of Maine. And it's been around forever.

Rich rural folk loved Chevy Suburbans , you could get some really nice interiors if you opted for them.

A low-income off-road vehicle you'd often see were Baja bugs: 1960-1974 VW beetles with their fenders chopped and suspensions tweaked up. While they had anemic heaters for Maine winters, the cool summers let their aircooled engines run for many years. They were definitely prone to rust and not many survived to the late 90s and beyond. in 1988 you'll find many VW enthusiasts proud to show that they can make it as deep into the terrain as the heavy expensive 4x4 boys...
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Old 03-21-2016, 09:35 PM   #35
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

Gun records. Before the Instant Background Check system was introduced in 1998, you could go into a Wal*Mart or local sporting goods store in most of the U.S. and pay cash for a rifle and go home with it without any record of who bought it.
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Old 03-21-2016, 09:49 PM   #36
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Default Background for Clayborn Allen (mill owner) and Courtney Allen (preppie son)

2)
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Pickup trucks can also be cool for young men, like that Toyota SR5 that was Marty McFly's dream car, especially in rural areas.
1)
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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Switching gears unless the lumber company owner is a Wall street fish out of water he'll be driving a pick up truck. A very large one, possibly with an extended cab. Not one of those little Toyotas that are ubiquitous overseas. Those were know in the US at the time but humorists tended to paint out the OATA on the rear gate and leave only the TOY. Stallone fans went for YO instead. Not lumberjack material.
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Right. Ford (probably the F-150), GMC/Chevy (can't remember model), and Dodge (Ram) were the three big-name companies of the day offering heavy-duty pickups. (I forget who owned Jeep at the time, since American Motors had collapsed and took their Eagle, the four-wheel drive station wagon, with it. Pretty sure Chrysler had just acquired the Jeep, but don't hold me to that.) International had stopped making the Scout II half a decade or so back, but there were still quite a few Scouts converted to pickups on the road; you might see the loggers driving them.
There'll be plenty of pick-up trucks owned by North Woods Logging, but I was thinking about the personal luxury automobiles of the owner and his son. The father, Clayborn Allen, is less lumberjack than timber baron turned real estate developer and the son, Courtney Allen, is a dyed-in-the-wool preppie at Harvard, albeit a preppie with Manly Man pretensions and a fixation on maximum power, most expensive TactiCool possessions, whether guns or cars.

Clayborn Allen (mill owner) is a local Allagash-Dickey, Aroostook County Mainian, born and bred, but he did go to McGill and Harvard Business School before taking over his father's mill. Married a girl from a good family in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1960 and has in the past three decades turned a modestly successful local logging operation in a tiny town into a powerhouse that has concerns all over northern Maine, and even further.

He still owns the Allen Sawmill and Allagash Wood Products in Allagash, but they are completely overshadowed by his extensive North Woods Logging Company, which has operations all over northwest Aroostook County and sell lumber to many other mills. He also owns a part of several paper mills in both US and Canada. According to Sheriff Edgar Wheeler, Allen makes even more money on real estate speculation than his logging and manufacturing bring in.

The family own luxury apartments/condos in Montréal* and Boston (Back Bay, close to his brother) and a vacation home in Bridgeport, Connecticut near the wife's family. North Woods Logging Company also has executive suites with offices meant for Mr. Allen's use in Portland, Augusta, Bangor, Houlton and Presque Isle (all ME); cabins in several areas in Maine, such as by Eagle Lake, seveal in the Highlands, one near Mt. Katahdin and another near the headwaters of the St. John River; and a house with ground floor offices and a nice bachelor apartment on the second floor in Madawska, ME. Clayborn also has a brother, Dr. Harvey Allen, who lives in Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts, but has a very remote hunting cabin in northwest Aroostook County, Maine.

So, while a pick-up truck might do for certain job-related things, he'll want to own at least one fancy car that can nevertheless get up to his brother's hunting cabin an hour northwest of Allagash, through some very rough terrain.

And if he has a pick-up truck, it has to be a very powerful model, with extremely good handling. Clayborn is usually past the need to show off for the purposes of stroking his own ego, at least as blatantly as his son, but he will not hesitate to do so far business advanage. A rugged outdoorsy image might be good for much of his business, but there are a lot of potential partners from urban areas that constantly need to be reassured that behind the ruggedness, there are obscene amounts of money.

*Someone please suggest a part of town for one, I don't know the first thing about Montréal.

3)
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Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
So for four-wheel drive cars/trucks, you had:

Chevy Blazer
International Scout II
GMC Suburban (I forget when they had the Suburban under the Chevy line, but at the time there should still be a few Chevy Suburbans on the road)
Dodge Ram
Ford F-150/F-250
Jeep Renegade (the classic Jeep)
Jeep Cherokee and Wagoneer (the Wagoneer had wooden panels on the side; otherwise, same basic vehicle)
American Motors Eagle (station wagon)
(Pretty sure there was another running around, but I can't remember it offhand...)
Cool, thanks.

Incidentally, is the Ford F-350 not an option in 1988? I can never understand these types, but I think that's the more powerful version of the F-150.

1), 2) and 3)
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A few Chevy Econoline vans were converted to 4WD as well. This being the deep woods of Maine, no doubt there were a few "Johnny Cash Cadillac"s out there as well. Occasionally you'd see stuff as small as a Ford Ranger or Chevy S-10 converted to 4WD, but IIRC they weren't put out that way.
A luxury conversion of a Ford Econline van sounds like a very nice vehicle to keep at the Dickey 'mansion' to use to pick up Dr. Harvey Allen and his friend whenever they fly over to visit their cabin.

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Note that 4WD at the time meant you still had to get out and lock the hubs of the front tires and then throw the second line of the transmission into 4WD. I can't remember any 4WD trucks that had automatic transmissions.
Thanks, I never would have thought of that. Empathically not a car guy, never really driven anything but late 1990s and later cars, where everything is electric, really simple and easy to use.
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Old 03-21-2016, 10:00 PM   #37
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

9)
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At my first job, we had a product that ran on computers from a company called GRiD Systems. The Compass was an IBM PC (4.77 MHz 8086, 640KB memory) true laptop form factor, with a flip-up monochrome LCD display over a keyboard, 3.5" floppy, and a modem. 5 kg. (The back half wasn't hinged; it was a bit narrower but deeper than the modern laptop shape.)

It was also mil-spec, so ridiculously ruggedized, operates under three feet of water, titanium case under the plastic, etc. And as you might expect, really expensive. (Though I'll have to take Wikipedia's word on the price; we didn't buy them for our own use, using regular '286 desktops instead.) But much more portable than the "luggables" like the Osborne or Compaq Portable. Plus they were tacticool enough to be used in "Aliens".
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Yup, the GRiD looked very cool. It inspired a spec a group of students I was in made up for a really survivable portable computer, which would survive anything that the person holding it would, except being struck by lightning while open. We didn't try to build one: it was obviously too expensive.
That sounds awesome.

Uh, now I sound like an idiot, but what is it good for? I basically have no idea what computers did, beyond word processing, before they had Internet. For programmers, scientists or database administrators, I can make a fair guess, but what can more active, adventuring-type people, like FBI agents, use theirs for?

What could an FBI agent use one of those for while on assignment?

Also, what game stats are we looking at here?

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Toshiba also had something like a modern laptop before 1988 (the T1000 and T1100 models). There was an IBM PC Convertible as well.
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Those were really quite useful. The boss in a job I had 1987-88 had one, without a hard disk. He worked off the MS-DOS in ROM, plus a structured word processor called PC-Outline which was ridiculously fast and would fit the program plus a decent quantity of documents on a 720KB floppy.
If price (assuming that it's below GURPS $50,000) is really not a factor, which one of these would a recent graduate of Computer Science from Stanford rather own in 1988, the GRiD, an IBM PC Convertible or a Toshiba T1100?

She worked summers as an intern with the FBI, working on something computery, and did her thesis on the use of computers in law enforcement. She's supposed to have a good grasp of whatever the FBI are using computers for in the 80s, about which, I admit, I have no idea.

What can you use computers for in law enforcement in 1988? What was the FBI doing with them?
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Old 03-21-2016, 10:44 PM   #38
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Default Re: 1980s American Cars, Guns, Gadgets and Consumer Goods [Atmosphere, look, minutiae

Another option for the car is the AMC Eagle. It's a station wagon with off-road capability. It was not uncommon to see them retro-fitted with luxury. The wooden side-paneling was almost always left intact, though.

As mentioned, to switch to 4-wheel drive, one had to go out and manually turn a dial in the middle of the front hubs. This was easy in good conditions, but could be difficult when wet, weathery, or on bad ground. It was also common to have to back up a few feet to get the transfer case (secondary transmission) to switch into 4-wheel drive.

FBI agents of the era would have a pager to tell them when to call in for orders. Possibly with a set of memorized numeric codes so the instructions could be given directly. Reception outside of cities was a bit sketchy, though interstate highways were all covered.

Candy:
Pop rocks were popular. They were a very sweet fake-fruit flavored candy. They came in a packet like vegetable seeds are commonly sold in today, and were a bunch of small (2mm diameter) irregularly shaped lumps of brightly colored sugar. They would fizz in one's mouth creating a unique feeling. Think about grinding up alka-seltzer and pouring it into your mouth. There was a persistent urban legend that eating those and then drinking soda would make your stomach rupture.

Gum:
Bubble tape. It came in a container very similar in size and shape to what contains chewing tobacco, and dispensed similar to scotch tape. It was more than 6 feet of continuous bubble-gum stick. The flavor was pretty standard bubble-gum, and lasted no longer than cheap gum.

A few flavor notes:
Recreational off-roading was called "Jeeping" no matter what brand of vehicle one drove.

There were no "mobile phones" or "cell phones," only "car phones." The handset was connected to the main unit by a curly cord. Expensive ones could be used on battery power, and the unit could be carried like a satchel. Handheld devices like the Motorola "brick" were still fairly rare, very expensive, and had terrible reception in comparison to ones with a large box.

Car Phones would be best used by pulling over. One couldn't drive more than a mile or two without loosing the call due to getting out of range of the tower. Phones didn't start smoothly switching from one tower to another until the 90s, so you were stuck with whatever cell you were in when you picked up the phone. Reception on these was mostly limited to urban areas, and the major highways had major dark areas especially in less-populated areas. A successful business could pay for towers to be installed at their facility or near the home of their CEO, but doing more than one or two was prohibitively expensive.

T.V. was in a weird flux state. With cable becoming ubiquitous in urban areas, the era of the time-based TV show was ending, but not over yet. Kids cartoons were on Saturday mornings. Shows for teens were in the early afternoon, with the most popular shows being saved for "prime time" Daytime TV was an odd mix of old reruns and soap operas. A few cable networks were starting to offer cartoons all the time, or soap operas non-stop, but it was rare.

An odd government program at this time (which was not common knowledge) had every major show run one "very special episode" which departed from whatever its regular theme was to hammer home a "drugs are bad" message.

This was near the height of the D&D scare. It was believed by the mainstream, and some at the FBI, that D&D made people crazy. It was linked to suicides, murders, and devil worship by politicians and pop psychologists. Note that the mainstream was totally unaware of the existence of any other role-playing games, and would only refer to them as "like D&D."

Devil worshipers were often cited as the cause of disappearances and murders by the uneducated public, particularly the more religious. It was common (though false) knowledge that there was an epidemic of young people being recruited into satanic cults and then brainwashed into killing their family and friends.

Long distance telephone companies were advertising aggressively. Calling outside your state cost a per-minute rate. Plans changed constantly and were far more complicated than the service warranted. Much like cell-phone plans in the 90s, they could take "per minute" and "free minutes" and spin them into an incomprehensible mess. One would expect to see billboards, TV commercials, radio ads, and telemarketers all in the regular course of a day.

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Old 03-22-2016, 12:03 AM   #39
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Default Music

On the subject of music choices, here is a Spotify playlist for background and mood music for the game (Cold Night in Maine). Note that by the latter half of the playlist, I'm assuming we'll be into action-adventure stuff, with a strong horror bent.

Then I made another playlist for music likely to be heard in local diners and from the radios of local truckers. This one is meant to be played on shuffle.

The third Spotify playlist for this game are the personal choices of Special Agent Maria Lucia Estevez. She's the PCs' representative of everything that is 80s, being a perky young California girl who has made MTV and other television her guide to fashion and lifestyle in her 20s, as she never learned to be a teen while she actually was one, being too busy being a piano-playing gymnast math wunderkind with loving, but demanding parents. This one can be played as is, to represent her using her CDs or tapes, or put on shuffle to represent a mix-tape.

I'll be adding to these and cuing up the primary list to better match expected events in the next session. I'd welcome comments.
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Old 03-22-2016, 12:13 AM   #40
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Default Photo Album of Characters, Locations, Equipment and Other Things

In case anyone is interested in the game itself, I've made a Dropbox folder with pictures of PCs and NPCs in my adventure, Cold Night in Maine, mostly portrayed by actors*; as well as locations, local animals and equipment* carried by the PCs.**

*I do not own the rights to any of these pictures, they are used for fantasy casting and visual aid purposes only, in a non-commercial leisure activity, and all credits is still due to whomever owns the rights to each photo.
**So far, only guns, knives and cars, but I mean to add to it.
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