Saturday, April 18, 2015

Journey ep01 : Ryuutama


Episode One
"Small Beginnings"


At long last, I finally got a chance to run the game Ryuutama, the Oregon Trail-Final Fantasy Tactics-Ghibli game. Created by Atsuhiro Okada, the game is finally in English and I finally got Rocky, Urim and Che to try it out.

“At one point in their lives, everyone embarks upon an exciting journey…”

TRISTAN, a Trader played by Urim
16 year old with ginger hair, glasses, dressed simply.  Always has his favorite abacus while computing things.  Has an animal companion named Twinkle, a bad brown baby squirrel monkey who hangs on his shoulder and at times pantomimes that he's the leader of the travelling group. As well as Finn, a pack donkey who was a gift from his parents.

PITER, a Container-Maker played by Rocky
Heavy-set build, in his late 20s with red hair and pale green/gray eyes.  Always carries a crafting hammer.  And tends to get into playful arguments with Twinkle.

AYA, a Musician played by Che
In her early twenties, with a dynamite body, and honey blonde hair. She always carries her pearl-encrusted hand-mirror, which was a gift from her mentor.  Great with daggers and a lyre.

The group is traveling through the grassland, on a journey to reach the town of Ifa, in hopes of finding new things to trade and sell.  The town was known for having a lot of cute products, which the group felt might hold opportunities to make more coin.  Although the way, the chance upon a Dragon Statue and Tristan takes the walking stick in its hands.  For him, it felt like a moment that confirmed they were finally adventurers.

They did not know, however, that they had gained the attentions of Ka Riu, a seven-foot long Ao Ryuu, an Azure Dragon of fascinated with Love, Youth, Heartwarming tales, and the Human Heart.   The Ryuujin resides in a library inside a burning star and watches over the three travelers with rapt fascination.  He wants to write about tales of friendships being born.    To share stores of kindness, of happiness, and of the hearth.

Tristan starts the day feeling sluggish, not having slept well the night before.  Piter feels annoyed that they are walking on the grassland, however, feeling exhausted as they trudge along.  The group laughs about how Piter insisted they bring his bathtub with them rather than get pack horses.  Along the way, the meet a Weather Reader on the road.   The young man warns them he sees four days of rain coming soon.  He introduces himself as Joshua, and admits he had companions earlier but they seem to have left him behind along with his donkey.  Piter asks if he was sure he was not traveling with bandits.  "Of course not! They said they were traveling bandit hunters, in their black clothes and masks."They talk about the Konekogoblins, a race of cat-like goblins, who now reside in Ifa.   

They soon reach a clearing ahead where people are already camped.  The companions Joshua had turn out to be the people already set in camp.    Aya asks if the men are willing to share the campsite with them.  Joshua recognizes the heavy set man who he calls Billy.  The men all have black grease-painted masks on their faces and are all dressed in black.  A thin man comes forward, named Bob, and stands beside Billy, and they ask Joshua who the newcomers are.    Piter insists they allow Joshua to be reunited with his donkey and their things.  Two more guys step out, also in black outfits and with grease masks.  Piter wonders if they are a performing troupe.  They claim to be mercenaries keeping the roads clear of bandits.   "Now, I would like to see my donkey Amberdeluxie."  Tristan whispers to Aya and Piter that he thinks they are smelling Amberdeluxie now.  A delicious aroma of roasting meat permeates from the fire.  They make a deal to be friends for now.  Joshua, oblivious to the nature of the earlier men, simply seems excited to eat the roast.  They set up camp for the night.  While the group was tempted to confront Billy and Bob's group about Joshua's missing donkey, the group ends up liking the donkey roast too much that they fall nicely asleep from eating too much.   Aya, still awake, ends up bonding with one of the bandits, Franco, who seems to be trying to learn to read.  She opts to spend an hour talking to him and teaching him how to read more.   As Aya returns to get some sleep, she finds Joshua asleep in her sleeping back.  With the rain starting outside, she opts to shove him to the side to share the sleeping bag.

The next morning, Aya finds herself feeling a tad exhausted having not slept well.  Piter and Tristan, on the other hand, seem to have slept pretty well.  The other group is now dressed in blue outfits.  The masks had been washed off their faces.  The two are busy juggling.  Piter realizes they are actually a performing troupe.  Billy, using his immense strength, grabs the whole tents with one hand and tangles it into a pack which he slings over his back. The group mentions they were headed west, to Islengton for a show.  Joshua shares how bad he feels that Amberdeluxie has disappeared and how the bandits probably have taken him and the gold chest away.  Piter questions Billy and Bob if they know anything about that.  Tristan, however, comforts Joshua telling him that he probably should be happy to know Amberdeluxie is now "part of him" forever.  Of the twins, Franco and Freddy practice their juggling.  When Franco fails to catch the juggling pin, Freddy accuses Aya of distracting him with her feminine wiles and questions his brother wasting time with reading.  "Who ever made their life better thanks to reading a book?  Tell me!"  Aya stresses many of the mayors are where they are because they were educated.   Freddy insists they got to power only because of popularity.  Or nobility.

The group opts to move with the troupe and Aya starts playing the song Of A Thousand Kisses, raising the spirits of the group as they walk.  The rain is light and the grassland ahead offers an easier journey.   Soon they reach another suitable camp site as they reach a massive tree at the center of the road.  The rain begins to get heavier and heavier, and the group opt to stay under its shade.   There, they find themselves encountering a Konekogoblin who seems depressed for some reason.  Joining him under the tree, they learn that the Konekogoblin is named Kene, which is short for his full name Kotaro Kenemokabakamabebe.   He laments having lost the fishbone earring his sister had given him, and wonders if he would ever find it, given he was worried how his sister would react once she discovers he had lost the gift.  Bob warns Piter that Konekogoblins are bad luck.  "They are always after their own happiness."

As night looms deeper, the group finds themselves assailed by Wandering Eggs, which burst out of the rain.  The group quickly dispatches the Wandering Eggs, with Piter even realizing the eggs can fetch a good price if gathered properly.  They do, however, finds the fishbone earring in the goop left behind by the Wandering Egg and consider when to return it.    Kene, however, is thankful enough that he offers to show the group around Ifa when they arrive, given he actually lives there.

And in the shadows of the trees, something watches them and waits.   Fireflies dance and vanish in the light rain.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

wideawake ep1 : Bliss Stage


Episode One
"Jazz do as you're told"

Bliss Stage

March 29, 2015:
Older people begin to fall asleep.  At first it targets only adults.  But as time passes, the weird sleep-sickness starts hitting the eldest, and move closer towards the youngest.   Oddly, people being to realize the bodies are not dying.  It is almost as if they were falling into a self-sustaining comatose state.

The eldest among the children remaining pool their skills and strength to begin the creation of places called Gardens, where all those who are asleep are moved to for safe keeping.  While the bodies do not die.

It is around this time, as well, people notice an incoming comet which suddenly comes to a full stop in the atmosphere.  The meteor becomes the focal point of panic and fear.  The popular term for it becomes "Wormwood."

All makeshift governments are now run by the children.  Nationalism (or at least a twisted sense of it) becomes a rallying point for many.  Race becomes a reason to distrust others.  Violence and desperation rise in frequency as some struggle to maintain a sense of order, while others embrace the supposed freedom they now have.   Reports have come in, of the likeness of these aliens, and of how beautiful they look.  They talk of golden skin, of beautiful faces, of perfect bodies.

They whisper of how those who had fallen asleep have slipped into Bliss.   That was the word.  The sleepers, they said, were happy.  The sleepers were safe.  And there was no denying that all who slept had somehow become... immortal.  They did not need to eat.  They did not suffer pain (or at least showed no sign of it).  They lived on, longer than life expectancies.  They ceased suffering from their illnesses.   They just... lived on.   In Bliss.

Then the drones came.  Great mechanical devices that hunted any of the humans that remained awake.  Their appearances varied.  Some were machines that resembled vehicles.  Others appeared in humanoid shapes.  And others, bestial.   But with their appearance, the tenuous order and systems that the children have formed fall apart.  Survival becomes the point of existence.  Not order.  Not unity.

Many dive into the darkness, hiding into the depths of cities to find sanctuary from the drones.  Those that do not... die.

The sole surviving awake adult with the help of a group of children succeed in the impossible: they had successfully brought down one of the remote drones.  It was the first victory against the aliens that lived only in the world of dreams.  And the aliens were now called the Rakshaka.

From the debris and scavenged technology, the group succeeds in a breakthrough: adapting the technology to work with a teenager's physiological and psychological makeup.  The device, after initially having disastrous consequences, eventually successfully allows its teenage pilots to project a presence into the dream world.  The call this an ANIMa.

The fight against the Rakshaka is now possible.

The dreamworld begins to leak into the real world.  In places where there are water, solid light images of those already in Bliss can sometimes be seen.  At times, one can see glimpses of those in the Bliss happily living wonderful lives in some other place.  At other times, more terrifyingly, there would be doppelgangers who would call out to loved ones, "Come here.  Join us." And those who would touch them would Bliss out.

Now, deep beneath Akihabara Station in Japan, the same resistance group has now gathered dozens of other survivors and created a sanctuary for what may just be the last remaining bastion of mankind.  In this final outpost, a council has been set up to maintain some semblance of civilization.  Solar panels and water-turbine generators are set up to gather energy whenever possible.  Food supplies are increased through hydroponic farming and the successful creation of underground animal farms.  And the original group of children, now trained to use the Creches, prepare for what they know is to come.

The final fight for survival has begun.

The Authority Figure: Chris
Painfully keeps himself awake somehow, but he has yet to show anyone what he does.
Seemingly always dehydrated.  Now 51 years old and the last still awake adult in the world.

The Children:Takeshi, the Veteran (17y).  Callsign: Darkwing.
Anchored by Krishelle (15y), who is tempestuous.

Christine, the Hedonist (16y).  Callsign: Animus One
Anchored by Miranda (12y), who is Saavy.

Katie (13y), the Innocent Sweetheart.  Callsign: Unicorn
Anchored by Jake (16y), who is Kind.

Kyle, the Rising Hero.  Callsign: Archer
Anchored by Gerard (16y), who is Comforting.

The Players:
Marc plays both Takeshi and Jake.
Meloy plays both Christine and Krishelle
Che plays both Katie and Gerard.
Rocky plays Kyle and Miranda.

The Supporting Cast: 
Mary Anne (16y) who handles one of the hydroponic farms.  Chipper personality.
Jude (15y) who works at Medical and tends to be pretty smart.
Pickles (11y) who is Christine's younger brother and tends to act crazy.
Kouki (14y) who is Takeshi's brother, and its a mecha otaku obsessed with technology.

The group's Hopes:
(Winning the War)
Defeat the Alien Leader
(Understand the World)
What's up with the Bliss
(Future of Humanity)
Better Civilization

The windup siren blares.  The four pilots hear the siren and rush to the Creches.  The base is threatened by Rakshaka scoutships closing in and the pilots hurry to launch and shut them down before they get too close.  Chris tells them that Archer succeded in an earlier mission and has brought back intel from the enemy, but they've noticed his escape.  Darkwing, Archer, Unicorn and Animus One launch immediately and set out to bring down all the scouts before any broadcast signals can be released pinpointing their sanctuary.  There are four incoming patrols of aliens and each pilot is assigned a compass point to bring down.    With the Creche's activated, elevator music plays to help calm down the pilots.

Each pilot quickly dispatches their set of incoming Rakshaka scoutships, save for Christine who falls into some complications.  

Darkwing's ANIMa is a black figure with violet details.  An extra pair of legs of satyr-like appearance grant him added mobility.  A gigantic eye with veins and two antenna flanking it serves as his sensor array.  And his main weapon is a spear of longinus, with intricate detailing.  Darkwing closes in on the four targets, and Krishelle constantly throws instructions on what Takeshi should do, like some backseat pilot.  With the weaponized spear forged from his relationship with his brother, Kouki, Darkwing yells at her to shut up and let him fight.  The scouts emit a low humming sound as they approach, with these laser scanner sensors swiping over the area.   Darkwing ducks under the beams and starts taking them down one by one.  "That was close, Takeshi.  Good thing you listened to me," Krishelle remarks.  She forcibly disengages the mobility array, despite Darkwing's protests.  Thankfully, that does not hinder him from completing the mission.

Unicorn's ANIMa is a pink and white figure with silver starts.  A pair of rose-colored sunglasses adorns her headpiece as a sensor array.  A magic wand like weapon topped with a star and globe is her main weapon, which fires out laser breams when engaged.   Unicorn faces two incoming scouts.  She fires lasers from her Magic Star Wand born from her feelings for Kyle.  She leaps and twirls with each strike, disabling the scouts with ease.  Jake fawns over her success, and already is thinking of how to celebrate her success.  She, however, finds herself thinking of a moment of curiosity of what it may feel like to be scanned.  Jake disengages the sensory array, telling her she doesn't need it against enemies this close. "You can do it!"    The mission succeeds.   Jake congratulates her for the win and Unicorn thanks him and says, "You are like the daddy I never had!"  Jake feels a single teardrop fall from his eye.

Animus One has a burgandy ANIMa that reminds her of fine wine.  Her main weapon is a bow and arrow that launches heart-shaped tips.  The scouts close in her direction, and Miranda reminds her that she cannot afford to miss.  Animus One admits it is hard not to gyrate while anticipating an attack.  Some past trauma, however, makes it harder for her synch with the ANIMa properly.  The arrows are launched, and hit each scout ship, then ricochet to hit the others as well.  But before they could relish the success, Miranda notices that one of the scout ships was transmitting that very moment it was destroyed.  "Oh.  Well, you've handled this wave pretty well.  You should be readily for the next one," Miranda casually says.  Animus One feels a brush of Terror as a heavier reinforcement comes into view: a larger vessel emerging from a sudden mirror window.   Miranda quickly asks Chris what the vessel is.  He turns to look and tells her, "Pull her back.  We will have to have Takeshi to fix this problem. Tell her she's aborted."  Miranda tells Animus One to pull back but she insists she has a huge ass arrow aimed already.  But Animus One instead "accidentally" launches the arrow and it thankfully strikes the heavy scout.  The scout fires its own short range Medium lasers.  The blast strikes Animus One, and the strike causes a feedback loop in the Creche.  Animus One's Terror intensifies and she almost loses cohesion in her ANIMa!  But the heavy scout crashes into the ground.  Animus One presses the abort button.  Miranda is already trying to slide her out of the Creche.  Animus One's ANIMa nearly broke!

Archer pilots a white ANIMa with blue and red accents.  A cape formed by ribbons trail behind him. His main weapon is a nested crossbow cannon which assembles out of his forearm when needed.   "You can do this, Rockstar," Gerard tells Archer as he updates him on the readings.  The scouts close in, swooping close in a low position parallel to each other.   Archer banks left and takes out the first one on the left.  The second one closes in and slows down to maneuver.  It seems to be receiving a transmission.  Gerard calls for Chris for guidance but he tells him he's busy and they have Animus One to thank for that.  A mirror window appears, and the scout is about to jump through!  Knowing he can't let it get through, Archer opens fire at the thing.  Believing he can do this blind, Gerard cheers him on.   Archer feels a Stress build on his relationships to Gerard and Kouki.  The scout is destroyed halfway through the mirror window.  The other half tears into being in the real world and hits the ground outside.    A zoom in reveals the scout ship's tech could be salvaged for an additional Creche.

Scanners show all clear.

Interludes: Takeshi's Trust Building with Krishelle

Takeshi flares up at Krishelle, telling her he needs a new Anchor.  She watches him walk away, but schemes to make things work out between them again.  He senses this wasn't the first time she's done this.  He feels he could be much better if he was not weighed down by a deadbeat Anchor.    Krishelle goes to Kouki instead, convincing him to work on Christine's ANIMa in order to misdirect Takeshi's frustrations to focus on his brother instead.   She then begins telling the other Anchors to stay away from Takeshi ("Give him some room.") and prepares to step in at the moment he's alone.  Takeshi realizes she's the main torso of his ANIMa and while he doesn't like what she is doing, he knows he is stuck with her for now.  He thought she would be a rock, which was why he chose her in the first place.  He visits Mary Anne and learns she's working on a new strain.  She grabs a nearby basket, and swings Takeshi an apple.  "Talk to you later. Don't forget to close the door."

He visits Chris and tells him how he feels his Anchor is holding him back.  He stresses that no one understands that when one is out there, he has to trust his instincts.  Chris explains the fact she's not afraid of him is why she was chosen to work with him.  "The crap she throws at you is probably what has helped you stay alive longer than you realize.  Just think about it."

Eventually Takeshi and Krishelle have a moment drinking beer as they watch the colony from a ledge.

Interludes: Christine's Trauma Relief

The Terror fades as she exists the Creche, turning into Trauma that she has to deal with.   Hoping to let go of the Trauma, she showers away the blue goop and finds Kouki at the locker room.  He looks way in panic realizing she's in a towel.  But she encourages him to show them... quite directly.  She leans against the young boy as he shows his sketched ideas.  She invites him to go to her room and show the artwork there instead.   Having cuddled before, Christine changes quickly, having long mastered the art of doing so in a quick slick move.

At her room, the two pour over the sketches he has created for the ANIMa improvements.   "Maybe you're right about the bow and arrow.." Christine tells Kouki as she cuddles against him and this causes him to panic and rush to the restroom.  For Christine, however, she feels satisfied with the sense of domination and control.

Interludes: Katie's Intimacy Building 

Katie and Jake celebrate, spraying goop around as they laugh about their success.  She tells Jake that she got this recipe from Christine of brownies that are made with grass and invites him to try it with her.  She runs off, still in her ANIMa suit, for her dorm.  He chases after her.

As she cooks, he asks her if she really sees him as a dad.  She tells him she does because he is so nice to her and always takes care of her.  She admits she does not remember her dad but imagines what Jake does is probably what her father would do.  Katie doesn't notice that Jake doesn't really taste the brownies.  Katie stuffs them into her mouth and eats them with a smile.   The moment is bittersweet for Jake, as this isn't quite what he wants, but at least they are having a moment.

Interludes: Kyle's Stress Relief

Gerard congratulates Kyle and asks if he wants some Joes (And I mean, coffee).  Kyle, however admits he feels the need to find Kouki instead.  He discovers the young boy isn't in his dorm, so he hits the noodle shop to check if he's there, but nope.  Almost giving up, Kyle ends up seeing Kouki on the walk back to the dorm.   He asks Kouki if he's had a chance to look at the Scout, but Kouki admits Chris hasn't given them the go signal to do so.  Kouki shifts the conversation to girls and asks if they are like that.  Kyle admits probably just Christine.  Kyle steers Kouki to focus on the Scouts and he stares what he can about them; about the two possible modes, scan or transmit.  Striking quickly might be best to shut them down when not sure.  He admits most scouts only have Light lasers and are not as dangerous as others.   When the discussion shifts back to Christine, Kouki wonders if she was getting close to him only because she liked his brother.  But Kyle counters that Christine probably is just really "nice" to everyone.

"Isn't that what you call a slut?" Kouki wonders.   "I don't think that is how it works," Kyle counters, "So maybe not."

Days Later

Chris calls them all.  The Pilots and Anchors gather to hear his update.  They gathered the ruins and reveals to them that they were able to recover a map.  He pulls a whiteboard over to show them the map, but farm animals have been added to the bottom. "Pickles!" Chris hollers and the young boy emerges from the shadows, laughing.  Waving at his sister as he runs out, Pickles runs smack into the door.  The others just opt to ignore him, even as slinks away embarrassed.  Chris tells them the scout ship was transmitting to this location, and Mary Anne explains that there used to be a Museum there.  Being close to a man-made bay that has long dried up.  There are times, after rainfall, when the basin is filled with water though.

Nothing has triggered the colony's defense systems in the last few days.  Chris, however, suspects that the Rakshaka are still probably trying to triangulate where the colony is based on the scout ships.  Chris needs two pilots to investigate the place, and two others to remain and protect the colony if need be.  The Mission is to be a quick Reconnaissance Mission:   Fly In, Gather Information, Get Out.  The Mission is meant to last only fifteen minutes, tops.   Chris thinks Takeshi should stay for base defense, and when he insists he's done such a mission before, Krishelle weighs in that Chris is right given how Takeshi has been reckless and disorganized lately.  Kyle is assigned the Mission and he admits he feels he was to blame for the scouts tracking them in the first place.  Chris asks if Takeshi really wants to do this, and he reminds him he's the most qualified pilot.  Krishelle counters that qualified does not mean capable.  Gerard reminds Krishelle not to push him too hard.  Chris admits Katie can't handle a Mission this stealthy.  "I can't have you in danger," Chris then tells Christine.  Christine shrugs (although deep inside feels thrilled Chris does care for her above the others).

Takeshi makes one thing clear.  He tells Krishelle that his instincts have kept him alive this long. "I'll follow whatever reasonable thing you say, but when it comes down to the fight, I will go with my gut."  Krishelle however knows deep down when it comes to that, she will deactivate what she feels she must.

Katie and Christine then are introduced to two newcomers.  A muscular jock steps in with a brooding woman.  Christine looks at the guy and wonders if she had slept with him before.  But then she realizes she knows him because he was the guy who used to be scrawny and short years back.  The girl, on the other hand, has thick glasses, a pony-tail, and seems shy.  Chris admits they don't have a fifth Creche yet, but the two will have to train in case any of them get decommissioned.  "This does mean while the others are in the mission, I'll need the two of you to alternate with them in the Creche.  Katie is upset.  Kouki asks which one is the pilot.  Katie thinks its the girl. Christine thinks its the guy and tells her the bet is up.   "We don't know yet," the brooding girl admits, "We just sort of figured we should try."   Katie tells them she knows they will do well.

Chris tells them the two dreamt they were piloting an ANIMa.   "They just met today, but they saw each other in their dream."  Takeshi wonders if they were near any bodies of water.  The guy admits his father used to work in the Navy.  The girl admits she doesn't like water.  "I see things in water and they always disturb me."

As the meeting comes to a close, Chris has another fit.  He hits the ground, convulsing, and Christine rushes to help him.  He coughs against Christine's shoulder and calms down and tells them he will be fine.  But Christine notices there's a small splotch of blood on her shoulder.    The jock as Jake if Chris and Christine are an item.  Jake admits its hard to say, since she's friendly with a lot of guys.  "Girls are like that," the jock admits.  "Not all girls," Jake counters.

"That's why I gave up on girls," the jock admits.

"I've heard of her," the girl with glasses mutters, "I hate her.  She's only friendly until she doesn't need you anymore.  Then she breaks your heart and makes sure you never forget."

"Oh great," Miranda mutters, "Another cheerful person."

The girl looks back at Miranda and hisses, "Whoopie."

"So Takeshi," the jock asks Katie, "He's the Veteran?"  Katie admits that he is.  "Then that would make Kyle... the cute one," he concludes.    Katie feels Mister Lazlo is cuter though, and she shows him her teddybear.   The jock smiles.


The retrieval team sees something outside, in the horizon, and hurries back to the base to inform the Council that the Missions have to be cancelled.  "There are storm clouds coming.  Heavy rain is coming."

[to be continued]

Ending Theme Song for game:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

International Tabletop Day for 2015

For this coming Tabletop Day, I'm running for my fellow Whovians a game of Companions.  I've been wanting to run such a game for quite some time now and I feel excited at the chance to finally do so.  Even better, this is another game I can add to my 12 new games for the year.

What is Companions?

So yeah, in many ways this kinda touches on my dream of a new spin-off series called Panic Moons (which is an anagram too, like Torchwood was!) and since this is an International Tabletop Day thingie, I'm giving it a little twist.   What twist?  Can't spoil it this early can I...

That's clue enough I guess.
Anyway, our place ain't no gaming cafe or shop so we don't really have the ability to host huge events and the like.  But given our love for gaming (and the fact Rocky still has to go to work that night), here's hoping people appreciate the tiny Dr. Who celebration of gaming we're gonna throw this Friday!

Saturday, on the other hand is another dive at Ben Lehman's Bliss Stage.  So it's gonna be our second romp on teenagers attempting to save the world with weaponized love.

And Sunday is most likely a dive back into our old favorite, Houses of the Blooded.  Who knows? Maybe the whole game ends that day too.  You never know, after all, with Houses.

So, there you have it, another weekend filled with gaming.

Happy International Tabletop Day to you all!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Wax : Don't Rest Your Head


Don't Rest Your Head

As part of my 12 new games for the year, I decided to take a dive into EvilHat's Don't Rest Your Head.  The game plays sort of like a cross between Silent Hill and the Dark City movie, with system quite light and focused on helping create the foreboding and tense-filled atmosphere that suits the setting.   For this session, I was able to get four players to try it out.

Alex Brown, the Creative Director of an Ad Agency.   Played by Jovan.
She has been having nightmares of running away from something, and this has progressed into a sleep disorder for her.  She is commanding and intimidating, although she does enjoys the night life and works out during the day.  Her childhood memories, however, are locked due to some form of trauma.   
Her Exhaustion power is Running.  Her Madness power is the Knife.
Path: Stop the nightmares

Andrew Andres, Head Legal for the Ad Agency. Played by Fabs.
Sometime during his legal career, Andrew was able to frame a childhood bully, Kyle Wick, and get him imprisoned for life.  He is hot tempered, charming and lean but having been bullied as a child, he has a tendency to think of himself as weak.
His Exhaustion power is Endurance.  His Madness power is the Ninja.
Path: Reduce sentence of bully 

Amanda Bridgerton is Alex Brown's Personal Assistant.  Played by Che.
Her father raised her to steal things, but was arrested and due to complications in the arrest is now in death row.  Though she wants to leave the shadow Charles Bridgerton casts over her, she still hopes to raise the money needed to find some means to legally turn over the decision.    She tends to act like a goody-two-shoes whenever she resists the urge to "borrow" things.   
Her Exhaustion power is Stealth.  Her Madness power is Telekinesis.
Path: Find a way to free her father.

Joshua Arevalo is the Human Resources manager of the Ad Agency.  Played by Jonas.
Joshua is an insomniac, and has been taking medication to manage it.  He tends to be a loner, showing a poker face to the world.  He feels distant from his father, who was a distinguished detective.  Christian Arevalo, however, was murdered before he could see his son even show interest in investigative work.
His Exhaustion power is Detecting Lies.   His Madness power is the Jungle.
Path: Solve the Father's Murder

The four are preparing for an upcoming team building seminar.  The company had plans to get this place by a lake for an overnight event.  Amanda gets a text from a frustrated Alex (who had woken up from another nightmare) not to forget to set an appointment for later that day. Joshua wonders about the murder surrounding the death of his father, and having uncovered it happened at this lake house cabin where he had run to since his bouts of paranoia, Joshua had successfully set the company outing to be held in the same place.  He had hoped to try and investigate a bit to see any clues to his father's murder.   Andrew, on the other hand, opts to take a wee hour morning jog to try and shake off this odd feeling about the actions he had done in the past.  He chances upon a bus driver who turns out to be someone who knows him from the past.  Knows him enough to ask how Kyle Wick was doing.  The question bothered him greatly.

The four make their way to the team building location, with all of them promptly falling asleep enroute.  What they do not realize is that during the trip, they all find themselves slipping into the fringes of the Mad City.   The location is a quaint place, with multiple cottages to house the employees and a jog-friendly area along the lake shore. The locale was deep inside the wilderness enough that cellular phone signals were wonky.  And to Amanda's panic, the land line in the venue was out of order.   It is later in the evening, after the basic team building activities have ended, each return to their own cabin to take a respite from it all.

Alex and Andrew opt to step out for a jog.  Joshua begins to dig around the cabin, searching for clues.  Amanda worries over the appointment she had not set, and stays in Alex' cabin to prep some of the paperwork.  None would anticipate the first brushes with the Mad City.    While jogging, Alex and Andrew notice a man in the distance dressed like some English Beefeater at the beach.  The two ignore the figure for now, same with the sound of barking somewhere in the darkness.

Joshua starts finding an old journal talking about the madness that overwhelmed his father.  The pages ramble about someone called the Wax King, of the Tacks Men, and of the Thirteenth Hour.  He puzzles over the pages and trying to make sense of the contents.  He seems many instances of his father writing about not falling asleep.  That sleeping means death.   Joshua starts to hear the barking outside and it catches his curiosity.

Amanda on the other hand tries to distract herself by watching television, although the black and white show makes her feel uneasy.  It wasn't until she suddenly heard of something in the bathroom that she worries about the fact she might not be alone in the room!  She begins to approach the door when a voice issues from under the floor boards, begging her to get away.  To run.

Alex keeps jogging, ignoring the world.  But Andrew stops, and hears the barking dogs get louder.  He sees in the distance what looks like a dog skinned of fur, but upon blinking his eyes, the horror is gone.  He then hears a splash in the water, and thinking it was Alex, he rushes to go and help.  But what he finds, is a melted humanoid form.  A mannequin.  A wax figure the size of a man.  Alex sees Andrew fetching the body out of the water.  Joshua had stepped out to search for the sound of the barking, and finds Alex and Andrew with the wax figure.  They then see the terrible skinned dogs and the officer in the distance.   Fear breaks into her hearts when they realize the mannequin man is somehow alive yet not.

They run for the nearest cabin, which turns out to be the one beside the one Amanda is in!

Amanda opens the door to find some kind of man made up of newspapers inside rambling about running away and hiding from the Wax King.  In panic, she tries to keep the door locked shut.  But the voice keeps telling her about having to escape before the thirteenth hour hits.  And when the others begin to rush into the cabin next door, she hears the commotion and tries to see what is going on.  The voice tells her that it can help them escape, but that they must before time runs out. The other cabin gets surrounded by the skinned dogs, and the man in the beefeater uniform turns out to be some kind of clockwork figure that claims to be there to take back the Queen.    Somehow, her sneaking around successfully gets her to slip past the dogs and join the others in the cabin where she finds the others panicking over what is going on.

Amanda finds a ring on the floor, which she ends up slipping on.  The ring somehow gives her some kind of link to the Mad City, allowing her to hear the ticking of the clock leading to the thirteenth hour.  Andrew and Joshua consider confronting the officer, who calls himself Officer Tock, to ask why they were chasing after them.  Tock claims they had kidnapped the Queen, and to Alex' horror, the man claims she is the supposed Queen of the Wax King.  The term puzzles Joshua, who remembers the madness his father sank into.

The source of the voice is soon discovered to be a wax boy named Ivan, who offers to show Amanda and Alex the way out.  Andrew and Joshua, on the other hand, take the more violent path and attack Officer Tock and his skinless dogs.   Andrew begins pulling shadow ninjas out of nowhere, while Joshua taps into some Jungle in his mind and emerges with bestial traits.  The group gets separated to two groups for a moment, with Alex and Amanda taking the tunnel beneath the cabin to find their way out while the two guys tear Officer Tock apart, and consider leaving via the van.  Realizing the women have gone underground, the two opt to follow.

Down below, however, after nearly falling victim to the presence of even more wax guardians, Amanda and Alex eventually reach what can only be believed to be a door leading back to the world they remember. Ivan warns them that he cannot go further, having sacrificed far too much to help Alex escape before.  Their bid for freedom, however, is not without a price.  Though Alex slips away from the Tacks Man, the guardian between the two worlds, Amanda is not as lucky.   Andrew and Joshua, however, do force their way through and what seems to be an impossible nightmare abruptly ends with each of them waking up in the real world.

Alex realizes her traumatic past has to do with having run away from what can only be described as an impossible place of madness.  Joshua realizes his father's insanity was grounded in fact, and now he takes the mantle left for him to learn more of the truth behind the Mad City and its inhabitants.  Andrew learns that the man he had wrongly imprisoned deserved to be punished as he had actually raped a fellow schoolmate - one whom he had now bumped into upon waking at the bus station.  His conscience feels lighter, knowing the man's suffering was well deserved.

And finally, Amanda is forever doomed to serve the Tacks Man.  As it turns out, the "ring" she had worn was a Fastener that the Tacks Man had originally assigned to some man who was digging too much for truth about the Mad City.  (That man, of course, was Joshua's father.)  But now that she wore the ring, she was duly embraced as a new member of the Collectors under the Tacks Man.

The Mad City continues to welcome newcomers who slip through its doors.
And Alex learns that the only way to keep running is to never rest her head.
Ever again.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

wideawake ep0 : Bliss Stage

Starting a Bliss Stage mini-chronicle with Marc, Meloy, Che and Rocky.  We're tremendously excited to get started and we've already begun world-building and mapping out the characters we are to play.  For our game, I decided to create two sheets to help facilitate play better.

The first is the GM Mission sheet, which easily allows the players to see later where the Fate dice can be assigned to see how a mission unfolds.

The second is the character sheet, with areas for each character (Pilot, Anchor and Support cast) as well as a nice area to assign Relationships to your ANIMa.  There are areas for the Trust, the Stress, and the Intimacy rating.    At the bottom, I've also included a Terror and Trauma meter, and the players will be using tokens to mark their ratings.

Here's hoping the game goes well!
For the PDFs, visit The Garapata Repository.

EDIT: Revised the GM sheet when Ben corrected me that blanks should give 0 Bliss! Thanks Ben.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spam : Doctor Who Adventures In Time And Space


Dr. Who Adventures in Time and Space

After having played Dr. Who Adventures in Time and Space under Rocky, I've decided to take a stab at running my own Dr. Who storyline.  Luckily I was able to recruit Whovians to play in the game. So given the timey-whimey-ness of time, here are the cast of characters in the game.

Casey Price, played by Urim.
Casey is a rising talent among male models.  Known for his signature look: The Jaguar, Casey is Charming, Attractive, Lucky and has Friends.  He can tend to be Impulsive, and a Screamer especially when he Runs for his Life.

Amy Pond, played by Mika
Amy has long been a companion of the Doctor, and this adventure picks her up during the period known as Ponds' Life.  She is Attractive, Brave, Empathic, Indomitable and is used to Running for her Life.  She can be Argumentative, Distinctive, Impulsive and consumed with an Insatiable Curiosity.

Ron Pringleton "Pringles", played by Rafi
Pringles has long been a Conspiracy Theorist Blogger when it comes to the topic of Aliens and the Government.  He has heard of rumors of the man and the Blue Box but has yet to truly learn the truth of things.  He has an excellent Sense of Direction, with all of his Senses being Keen, and Lucky.  He is Argumentative and Clumsy.  He also has a friend online named Dave.  And a military contact.

The 10th Doctor, played by Rocky
The Doctor's 10th regeneration, portrayed by David Tennant, after the events of The Runaway Bride.  He has a Code of Conduct, he is the Last of his Kind, he has Resourceful Pockets, a Boffin, and can Feel the Turn of the Universe.

The episode opens with Pringles who is at home at his computer.  The four screens are displaying the newsfeeds he is monitoring, his social media channels, his research sources and finally his personal screen. An email comes in.  Pringles notices the email is not from anyone he knows.  There is no sender's name.  And oddly, it seems to have messed up gmail since the date sent shows nothing but zeroes.  Pringles slides the mouse pointer to it, double clicks to open it.  Inside, it is empty save for a paperclip suggesting an attachment.  Scanning the email for any viruses, he discovers the email is supposedly 10 GB.  This doesn't even seem possible to send via email.  He tries calling his friend Dave to check the email.  Hangouts pops open, seemingly from the same sender.  The chat asks, "Did you get my package?"  Pringles tells Dave about what just happened only to discover the man on the other line isn't Dave, but someone looking for Dave.  Pringels hangs up rather than answer.  He decides to download the file and the estimate shows 3 days.    The Hangout chat asks, "Did you download it yet? :-) "  Pringles replies, "Maybe I have.  Who is this?"

"No you haven't, and no you don't know who this is."

Pringles chooses to download it anyway.  

"But you will download it anyway," the chat replies.

The minutes crawl by as the download begins.  A buzz at the door tells Pringles someone is outside.  He finds Dave, who asks for a beer and talks about having a long day.  He sits down, looks around and talks about the weird day he's been having. About a message he received, a long download, one that messed up his computer.  "I don't even know why I clicked it. Darned thing was 10 GB. Called some tech people to try to fix it. They're at my house, now.  For some reason, I just had to click it."

Pringles asks to see if it matches what he went through and Dave realizes they're downloading the same file.

"Would you like the download to go faster?" a new chat message appears.

Dave shares how he tried to download it, but then everything just stopped.  He couldn't do anything to reset the computer.

"Say yes."

Pringles decides to click yes.  The windows shut down.  The download speeds up, from 3 days to 2 days, to 1 day, to 20 hours, to 15 hours... and then suddenly stops at 30 seconds.... 29.... 28...

"Where do you think this is coming from," Dave asks.  Pringles admits he thinks its probably a virus but he wants to see what will happen when it hits zero.  Dave suddenly feels worried and asks, "What do you think happens when the timer runs out?"

Different scenes. Different houses.   Different computers.  All of them counting down.


At a club, Casey struts down the catwalk as camera bulbs flash.  Photographers drop to take more shots as he poses his ass off.  The Creative Director of the magazine seems bored with the photoshoot, and terrifyingly she turns away and begins fiddling with her phone.  Casey notices she has gone bored, however, and throws the Jaguar pose to try to win her over.  She slowly raises her head and makes eye contact.  She gasps and drops her phone.  It clatters to the floor.  The photographer takes one shot and its the perfect one.

Casey comes up to her and picks up her phone.  She smiles and asks, "Who are you again?"  He gives his name and she admits she expected him to be younger.  "Still, not a complete loss.  Who are you working for?" she asks.  He admits right now no one, but she corrects him, "Wrong.  Everyone works for me."

As Casey freshens up a bit with the shoot over, he receives a phone call.   The call is one of alarm and he realizes he has to go and check it out.  (Alas, this was a call in real life for him to come home.  So Casey sadly does not continue beyond this point of the story.)

Elsewhere, Amy and Rory are happily at home, musing about their married life.  They are enjoying a show on the telly about some rich British family.  Amy admits she fell asleep watching it, and Rory admits he only did because everyone says it was amazing.  "Even the Judoon was more interesting than this."  Rory mentions casually that there was a message for Amy at the computer, but then blocks Amy before she could get to the computer. "It is not him, is it?"  They debate about whether keeping in touch ever just stays keeping in touch when "he" is concerned.    The two then stare at the phone with Rory musing, "Now would be the moment it would ring."  Both stare, but no the phone remains quiet.  But as they turn away, the phone does right!

On the computer, Amy sees an email from the Kiss-A-Gram service if she still wants to work for them.  She sees the second email, with no sender, and the temptation to click it is there.  She sees it is blank save for the huge attachment.  She starts the download.  A message asks to make it move faster.  Amy calls out for Rory to check this out.  Amy messages back a question on who the chatter is.  The reply is non-committal, but it does reveal it know Amy by name.  The countdown shifts to the faster speed.

On the phone, Rory hears a female voice say, "Rory Williams, do not be alarmed. But you need to know you and your wife are in terrible danger."    He asks who is on the line, and she replies she cannot really tell them.  "Whether you like it or not, Amy will have to seek out the Doctor."  Rory asks what if he seeks for him, but she tells him he won't be able to.  "You just won't."

Downloads are dropping faster.  Quicker.

Dave and Pringles feel stupid for clicking it.  Computer savvy person know better than to click spam mail.  But at the same time, the curiosity was there to find out who would have sent such  a huge file. A new message asks if the download should move faster."   Dave shares that when he received it, everything froze.  But that has not happened with Pringles' computer.  He asks for Dave's phone and Dave realizes it probably was left behind.  Dave calls his home to tell them he has not received the messages.  He checks on his computer and learns it is still down.  They realize Pringles got his message around five minutes before Dave arrived.  The countdown is down to the 45 mark.  They consider trying to trace it, but Dave does remind Pringles that tracing shouldn't be done in one's house.   The consider the net cafe down the block.

At another house, a child named Stacey excitedly waits for the download to end.   At another location, a guy at the train station also waiting for a download.  Everywhere, people are downloading the mystery spam.

Amy grabs the phone from Rory, sensing he is hiding something from her.  The speaker warns Amy that they shouldn't be talking, and Amy feels a chill go down her spine.  She cannot help but feel that there's a familiarity with the speaker.  She senses she should know the speaker.  She tells Amy to find the Doctor but to keep in mind they won't recognize the Doctor.  She gives the corner street to head for and tells them to go.  Amy looks at Rory and he tells her he's going with her.  They grab their things and he notices she's downloading something. He reminds him it might be best she stop clicking any paperclips she gets from weird emails.  They wonder who the caller was as they step out and they consider if the Doctor has found a new Companion who doesn't know how to handle things.  They head out.  The timer continues to count down.

Down the street, Pringles and Dave make their way to the net cafe with Pringles keeping an eye out for any security cameras that might be trained their way.  They soon reach the cafe without any camera catching them and step inside.  The old woman at the counter doesn't seem to happy to learn they both want just one computer.  She reminds them they don't allow pornography or torrenting in the cafe.  Dave starts working on a trace.  Pringles notices more and more people in the cafe as well, downloading the same thing.  A hangout chat comes in.  They click it and they receive another message asking if they want help for the download.  Since Dave needs time, Pringles considers stepping outside to light a cigarette while he waits.  Twenty four minutes to go.  But he realizes the others are also downloading the thing and even sees from one guy nearby facebook posts from many people talking about the download.

Pringles recalls the government once trying to control the media by spreading some kind of virus online which had to be downloaded.  It was a trojan virus that would secretly monitor the people.  He rushes back to Dave to share it, but Dave tells him to shut up because he's trying to focus on hacking.  He's so far found the signal to bounce around around six countries.  When Pringles tries to explain its probably the government, Dave clearly thinks the conspiracy ideas are just not likely the root of this thing.   Rebuffed, Pringles heads back to the old woman to try and get his own computer.  The nicotine urge hits and he decides to step outside to have a quick smoke.

And that's when he sees a strange sight.  Accompanied by an odd sound, a blue box begins to appear at the alleyway across from the cafe.  Pringles stares at the police box in what used to be an empty alleyway and totally forgets his cigarette isn't even lit.  He steps into the street and only then realizes the camera is facing him that moment.   A man steps out of the blue box.

A few minutes earlier, the Doctor was working with a rubber mallet to try and fix an odd clink noise that he could hear coming from the TARDIS when he began to hear a muffled ringing sound.   He opens the door to find the ringing coming from the phone on the door.  "Not supposed to do that.. You're not an actual phone," the Doctor remarked.  He looks outside if there's anyone, then looks back at the phone.  He picks it up and hears a female voice, "I'm sorry, Doctor.  But we will need your help." He asks who it is but all she gives is a date, a specific time, and an address.  The Doctor questions if he would just go to follow a voice from a phone that shouldn't work... "Well... maybe. Uh, sometimes? When?" the Doctor asks.  "Right now," the voice replies.   Faced with a mystery, the Doctor decides to go for it.  "If you know this number, you know I'm not good with minutes.  They're very slippery," the Doctor retorts but begins adjusting the controls to steer the TARDIS to the given information.  The voice responds, "I wish I could explain more, Doctor, but... Spoilers?"

This makes the Doctor pause.  Then adds, "That's an odd thing to say."  The voice apologizes, admitting she was only told to add that to help convince him.  Then tells him she has to go because she has someone else to call.

The Doctor steps out into the alleyway, and once again the phone rings.  Pringles watches as the man answers the phone, acting nonchalant as he moves closer to listen.   The Doctor answers the phone, expecting the voice to return, only to have a mechanical voice offer, "Would you like help downloading the file?"  The Doctor hears beeps and buzzing in the background.  He tries to ask who it is but gets nothing.  Pringles peers through the partly open door of the blue box and discovers it is bigger on the inside!  He slips. The Doctor looks up and sees a man picking himself back up.  "Right..." the Doctor mutters and puts down the phone.  He locks the door and walks down the sidewalk.  Pringles picks himself up and moves back to the cafe to check on his friend.

The car drives past the Doctor, spraying some gutter water at him.  "Oy! Watch it!"  Amy and Rory arrive in a cab, stepping down hurriedly to look for any sign of the TARDIS.  They see it and rush to it, knocking on the door excitedly as they call for the Doctor.  The Doctor watches them as they do that, muttering aloud, "Rude."    Pringles tries to light his cigarette a second time but he hears the whirring of the traffic camera above.  He looks up and sees it has turned to observe the alleyway.  He realizes it isn't watching the traffic as it should.    The Doctor walks back to the two newcomers.  Pringles sees the camera following the man in the trenchcoat.

Rory and Amy test the door but its locked.  Rory asks if she has a key and she counters, "Why would he leave me a key?"  Rory mumbles, "Just... testing."  The Doctor comes up to the two, hearing them asking for the Doctor.  Pringles pockets his unlit cigarette.  Realizing the Doctor is probably not inside, Amy starts looking around for the Doctor.  She sees the man in the trenchcoat and hears him mumble, "Ginger?"  Amy ignores him, not recognizing the 10th Doctor having been so used to the 11th.  Once again, the Doctor mutters, "Rude."  The two finally converse, with the Doctor asking what she is doing knocking on his box.  She is shocked and asks how it could be his box.  She asks him if he saw a man come out of the box, and the Doctor replies he didn't.  Pringles then rushes up to them, seeing the camera now focused on them, and tries to pull them deeper into the alleyway.    "Oy!  Did I end up in some alternate version of a very rude London?" the Doctor gasps exasperatedly.

Rory calls for Amy's attention and tries to suggest that the man might be the Doctor.  "Look at his clothes," Rory suggests.  "I am looking," Amy mutters, "He doesn't have a bowtie."  The Doctor goes defensive, asking what's wrong with his clothes!  Rory admits he's worn that trenchcoat.  He's sees it in the TARDIS before.  Pringles mutters that the guy came from the blue box and asks what the thing is.  Amy and Rory finally realize he is the 10th Doctor.  Pringles suddenly recalls of the man in some conspiracy theories of some kind of alien in a blue box, called the Doctor.  "Are you the Doctor?"

Rory turns to Pringles, asking, "Or are YOU the Doctor?"

"Am I supposed to know anyone here?" the Doctor asks, "Obviously I am..." he flashes the Psychic Paper.  Pringles sees it mentioning he's a Government Ally: Man in Blue Box known as The Doctor. Rory sees it saying: Official Companion.  Amy gasps, "You Regenerated! How did this happen? What happened to your fez?"  "Fez?" the Doctor pouts, "Does this hair look like it can handle a fez?" The two still argue silently between themselves if he is the Doctor.  He has Psychic Paper and the TARDIS, but Rory counters, "He doesn't look at you the same way the other one did."

That moment, the door slams open and Dave calls out for Pringles, telling him he's found where the spam is coming from.  The traffic camera spins and turns to focus on Dave.  Rory tells Amy to ask something only the Doctor would know, and she asks him if he would like any Fish Fingers.  He doesn't get the question.  He walks away from the two but then  Amy and Rory share that they received a phone call telling them to look for the Doctor at this address. This grabs the Doctor's attention and he asks them who it was.

The phone starts ringing again. The Doctor goes to answer it.

Pringles asks Amy and Rory how they know about the Doctor and she mentions he was a guest at their wedding.   The Doctor hears the woman again and she tells him know is the part where he should ask Ron Pringleton what he knows.  "What kind of a name is Pri... Pingle.. Pingleton... Pringleton?"  They turn to the Doctor as he mutters, "Not helpful" and drops the phone again.  Amy and Rory and the Doctor now clarify they all received a phone call, save for Pringles.   Pringles explains he's here because he was investigating this weird spam they all received.  Rory wonders if he's Unit, or Torchwood, or an alien, but Pringles admits he isn't.  He tells them about the weird download and that he came to the cafe to research more about it.  "You humans are very strange sometimes," the Doctor muses.  Amy and Rory realize this is the best chance to know if he is the Doctor and ask him if he should use a certain something to check the computer.  "A certain sonic?"  The Doctor mutters, "If?  IF? If I were the Doctor?  Rude.  Rude alternate rude London."   As the Doctor moves to step back into the TARDIS, Rory shoves the door open, blocks the Doctor from closing it, and tells Amy to step inside!

Squeezing in, Amy and Rory watch as the Doctor searches for the contraption he needs.  Pringles steps inside and sees how much larger it really is on the inside.  He stares dumbfounded.  Amy asks if he's redecorated, and realizes it looks a lot... older.  "You're older.  Are you older? Have you met me?"   The Doctor switches on the machine and checks the machine if it goes DING! when stuff happens.  And DING! it does.  "OH, oh dear," the Doctor gasps.  Amy tells Rory that the Doctor is probably from before their time.   On one of the screens of the TARDIS, the countdown is happening too.  Pringles tells them that's the email he is downloading too!  "How did you get this and what do you know about it?"  The Doctor looks at it, surprised.  He doesn't recall this at all.  "That definitely sounds like a DING."  Pringles tells them his friend Dave found something out about it.  He suggests they head out to talk to him, but the Doctor fiddles with the TARDIS to try to trace the signal and discovers it is coming from very close.   Within the City to be precise.  A cemetery nearby.

The Doctor pulls out his sonic and places the data he needs into it.  Pringles decides to just follow them, realizing he's now part of something bigger.  Amy and Rory head out, followed by Pringles and the Doctor, and they use the Sonic to trace the signal.    Pringles calls out to Dave and tells him to stay where he is.  The four rush off down the road with the Doctor occasionally checking his Sonic if they're still on the correct route.  Pringles suggests he keeps the Sonic thing hidden, telling them they are being watched.  They only actually do introductions as they walk.  "This download thing," Rory asks, "Is it why you showed up here?"  "Probably," the Doctor replies.  "Is it dangerous?" Pringles asks.  But Amy asks the bigger question, "What happens when the timer runs out?"

Rory talks to Pringles about this being his first run.  How the first run is always about just running alongside the Doctor even if you don't really know what's going on.  Pringles asks if its the same for them, and he admits it isn't.  "Amy and I have had our share of encounters with the Doctor.  And I guess we are lucky enough to survive them all.  I know that look.  But I wouldn't recommend it.  The adventures can be pretty dangerous."

"Are you going to keep talking this whole time?  Kind of working?" the Doctor mutters.  They reach the cemetery and approach the tomb where the signal is coming from.  Amy and Rory realize they can't tell the Doctor anything since he's a younger one than the one they've met.  "If we say anything we might tear a hole in the fabric of space and time."  They spot what likely is the source of the signal; a large metal object in the place of stone.  The distinct metal bar handle buried in the soil.  Polished and silver, there's no mistaking its a Cyberman.

Rory and Amy wonder if they should start running.  Pringles asks what it is.  But Amy, being her, approaches it.  The Doctor rushes forward and tells her to stay back.  Pringles feels Rory grab him by the shoulders and he tells him, "Run."  The Doctor scans the Cyberman to check if it is functional and finds the systems are not fully operational.

Amy drops to the ground and begins digging.  Rory tells her maybe she shouldn't do that.  The Doctor suggests it might be best not to dig out the thing.  Rory tells Amy it might be best to let the Doctor handle it on his own.   But Amy tells him that maybe they got the call because they are supposed to help him!  Pringles asks again what it is and as Amy digs out more, he realizes it is a head.  The Doctor notices something odd: His Sonic Screwdriver is receiving... a download.  "N-n-n-n-n-n-n-nooo..." the Doctor tries to reverse the signal that seems to be insidiously downloading into his Sonic.  

Dave goes back to the shop and sees the screen showing the countdown is nearly done.  He stares at the computer and is shocked to see the source has... changed!

The Doctor admits he doesn't like it when he's pushed.  So he is pushing back!  Pringles notices the head thing shift, moving slightly!  He tells the others it had moved, and Amy gasps, "I thought you said this is not operational!" "Technically," the Doctor mutters, "Busy. Still pushing."

The head addresses them, speaking in the monotone Cyberman voice, "EIGHT MINUTES. THIRTY SECONDS. TWENTY NINE. TWENTY EIGHT.."  The Doctor shakes his head, muttering that counting is never good.  Pringles is starting to think running is a good idea.  The Doctor diverts the download and successfully makes the Sonic Screwdriver no longer a target.  "We have to play its game," the Doctor realizes, "It is sending out a message. Why not we talk back?"

For every email and inbox the signal has sent, the Doctor tries to have the system send copies of the same message back to its source, effectively spamming back the sender with all the email messages that are currently out there.  The Head continues to count out the dwindling minutes.  Rory pulls Amy close and reminds her, "If we were supposed to be here when the Doctor faced this, then he should have recognized us when we met our Doctor.  But he only met you when you were a young girl, right? Are you telling me he lied and pretended not to know us the whole time?"  Amy shakes her head and tells Rory that the Doctor is here so they are meant to help.  That's when Rory admits, "The woman on the phone.  She said I was supposed to help him.  Not you, Amy."

The Head counts down.  Pringles starts to hear the Head say something else: Message Received.  Message Received.  Over and over and over.  The Doctor calls out telling them he needs a phone and Pringles pulls out his cellular, handling it to him.  "Who are you planning to call?"

"Everyone," the Doctor grins.  Using the Sonic Screwdriver, he patches the phone to call everyone in the network and then shunts all the calls into the Head as well.  "I know a way you can do that faster," Pringles suddenly realizes.  The Doctor stares at him, finding it disturbing how it echoed the offer from the Cyberman to also "do it faster."     The doctor starts duct-taping the phones together.

Dave is now confused how the computer is now sending, instead of downloading.  He's confused why instead of tracing the sender, he seems to have become the sender!

Amy and Rory debate once more on whether or not they should be there.  Pringles uses his old favor and calls an old friend from the Military, someone who has access to satellites.   The phone rings, and his contact answers.  Pringles tells the guy his name and tells him he's calling on his favor.  The man calls him, "Conspiracy guy.  Great ass."  "What?" Pringles mutters, but the man tells him it was nothing.  "So, what can I do for you, Pringles?  Why are you calling your dear friend, Jack?"  Pringles asks Jack Harness to help out because he's with someone called the Doctor, which grabs Jack's attention.  He shares he's all the way in Cardiff and asks if he looks gorgeous.  Pringles is not sure how to answer.  "Listen, the man is the Doctor.  If he's in front of you, its probably because he needs your help. Or you need his.  Which one is it?"   Pringles admits he needs Jack's help and tell him that he needs someone to re-reoute the satellite signal to their area.  Jack readily agrees.  He asks to speak with the Doctor, and when Pringles hands the Doctor the phone to talk to Jack, the Doctor mistakes it as an offered additional phone.  So he just takes it and tapes it along with the rest.  But Pringles gets to convince him to stop, and talk instead.

Jack asks how the Doctor is and if his leather jacket is still looking good.  The Doctor shakes his head, telling him no, and that he just needs help with the satellite boost.  Jack explains he's part of Torchwood and that he can help to boost the signal.  He shares that they've uncovered what the 10GB download it.  The file is a digital Cyberman, attempting to replicate themselves while staying digital without having the constraints of the human form.  "How do we stop this?"  They determine they need to find the source and that he's using interference.  Jack will do what he can to boost it.

Amy and Rory still debate on whether or not they should be here.  Rory admits the woman on the phone sounded like Amy herself.  But older.  She admits the woman did sound familiar.  She walks up the Doctor and asks him who the woman was.  The Doctor admits he has no idea, especially since no one is supposed to know that number.   The Head mutters its down to seven minutes.  That messages are overloading.  Messages are being rejected.   The Doctor realizes the that's not supposed to happen.

Back at the cafe, Dave smiles given he's successfully made the computer STOP receiving the influx of messages.  He is confused why the computer seems to be doing more things beyond what he's doing.  All the computers in the internet cafe begins to show the same display.  As if they were all functioning in concert.

The Cyberman's Head goes dead.  The signal is gone.  The Doctor realizes it had jumped.  Jack admits the signal has jumped and the source they were looking at has gone inert.  It has gone a few blocks from their position.  They hear the sound of the TARDIS and the door slides open to reveal a woman at the door.  She smiles at them all and mutters, "No time to explain, get on. The Signal has jumped."  The Doctor and the others hurry to her, with the Doctor demanding what she did with his TARDIS.  The woman steers the TARDIS, explaining she was trying NOT to get involved, but clearly the Cyberman is dealing with things faster than they are.  She has localized the signal and are heading there now, but they have to deal with it directly.  "You will have to stop its human agent," she tells them, "The Cyberman is running amok because it has no human side to contain it.  You will have to deal with it directly, Doctor.  You will have to delete it."

"You mean kill it," the Doctor shakes his head.  "Who are you?"

"I wish I could say," the woman again replies, "But as a good friend used to say, Spoilers."  The Doctor then realizes this isn't his TARDIS at all.  They step out and find themselves back at the intersection.  Pringles leads them all to the net cafe, while the Doctor uses the Sonic to cut any connections out of the cafe to localize the signal.   Amy stares at the woman, and she tells her, "Don't tell Rory.  But I know you know who I am."   The TARDIS speaks, telling Amy she shouldn't be here.  But the woman tells the TARDIS to shush and that River was right. This was going to be an odd reunion.  Amy heads out.

Inside the cafe, the group discover that the net cafe has been taken over by the Cyberman.  And Pringles rushes to Dave and asks if he's the human agent.  Dave isn't.  Pringles hears from Jack that the Cyberman has to be stopped but the call gets cut before he could share what he should do.  When he tries to suggest to the Doctor that Jack knows what to do, the Doctor however insists Jack isn't the answer.  All he knows is how to pilfer the dead.  The Doctor says it doesn't matter and pulls out an ethernet cable and tells him to run back to the cafe and plug it in.  Pringles and Rory run back with the cable, and Rory tells him that if he knows something, to just do it.  "The Doctor doesn't listen to anyone, but he saves the world."

The screens in the cafe say, "Hello Dave.  We Need Your Help. Please Touch The Screen."  Amy arrives and sees that and yells at Dave not to touch the screen.  She tells him to come with him.  But the screens start saying she cannot be trusted.  Dave is confused.  "You have to come with me to the Blue Box outside!"  Amy grabs him by the arm and tries to pull him outside. Dave admits he feels the urge to do so.  The screens show the word: UPGRADE.  Dave mumbles about why he should risk his life for something he doesn't understand.  He should just go home and choose what he knows is safe.  "Why doesn't anyone just choose that?"  Amy stares at him, realizing the words reflect her inner conflict with married life.

Very Well, Dave.   Miranda.  Touch the Screen.  Upgrade Yourself.

Amy terrified, looks around to find who Miranda is.  But she is unable to figure it out too late.  She see's the old lady at the counter has a tag that says, "Miranda."  Her hand is already touching the screen!  Rory and Pringles arrive to see the Old Woman already touching the screen.  Her eyes are flashing with numbers.  Dave wonders if she's being reprogrammed.  Rory asks Pringles where to plug the cable.  Pringles points to the laptop Miranda was using.  Amy grabs it and runs to Miranda's computer and plugs it in.

The Doctor sees the light go on!  Running the signal to the Time Lord hard drive in the TARDIS, he begins copying everything.

The Cyberman-Miranda tells them that they cannot stop her anymore, now that they have been Upgraded. They have been Downloaded 4 Million, 792 Thousand, 807 times.  We will now upgrade all 4 Million, 792 Thousand, 807 times.

All over the world, people see their screens flicker their name.  And are asked to Touch the Screen as well.   Rory, Pringles and Amy fear the worst.  Even Jack Harkness in Cardiff sees the invitation to touch the screen.  With the system ready, the Doctor switches his plan to motion.  The Time Lord hard drive begins reversing the download everywhere, deleting the source files from every single computer where it had been downloaded, and saving them safely.  Everywhere in the world screens begin to go out.  Miranda falls unconscious as the signal shuts down.  And the three look out the door to see the Doctor emerge from the TARDIS, hands in pockets.  Pringles runs out, cheering, "You did it!"  Amy sees the other TARDIS open, and the woman watches them.

"So, we are good, yeah?" The Doctor asks the Woman.  She smiles and asks if Pringles is handling things okay.  The Doctor realizes the Woman is the one from the phone.  She thanks him for the help and admits she couldn't have done it without him.  "Did you try reverse copying an entire Cyberman Consciousness into a Gallifreyan hard drive? Cyberman in Cyberspace, really a stupid idea."  he mumbles.  She then admits that is why she needs to ask for the drive now.  She tells him this is her fixed point in time and that she needs the drive.  She leans close and whispers to him the only thing he alone knows.  "And that's why I need the drive."

The Doctor pushes the door open, and lets her go inside to get it.  Rory admits to Amy he's completely lost.  Amy just walks into the  TARDIS.  The Doctor and Rory sigh, not knowing what is to happen next.  Dave wishes they could take pictures, but neither of them have phones.  Amy asks the Woman what she will do with it, and she explains it will be what allows her to talk the TARDIS, but she doesn't know it yet.  Amy starts to get it.  "You.  You're the Doctor, aren't you?"  The Woman grins and answers, "Maybe you should ask your daughter.  As she always says, Spoilers."

The Woman heads out, thanks the Doctor, then heads to her own TARDIS.  She stops, turns to the Doctor and tells him, "Don't worry.  You'll do well.  And yes, none of us ever want to."  The Doctor hates the feeling he doesn't get what she means.    Pringles watches as the Woman steps into the other TARDIS then asks the Doctor, "Wait.  You are just giving her the hard drive that nearly destroyed the whole world without knowing who she exactly is?"  The Doctor looked at the other TARDIS and smiles, "I know exactly who she is."

The Woman stops at the door of the TARDIS, then turns to Pringles and admits, "It has been a while.  But I could use a new Companion."  Pringles looks at Amy and Rory, but the Woman admits, "They're fixed.  Coming?"   Pringles smiles, slips the clumsy man he is, then tumbles back to his feet and gets inside.  The door closes.

Amy walks up to the Doctor and smiles, "She's right. You didn't do too bad."  "Oh, everyone is evaluating me now?" the Doctor grumbles.  "First tell me what to do, now I'm getting scores and marks."    Amy laughs and walks back to Rory, "Just don't make me wait too long, okay?"  The Doctor raises an eyebrow and steps back into his TARDIS.

Both begin vanish.
Amy and Rory glance and see Dave, still stupefied.  They decide to invite him over for Pizza.  Just another day with an adventure with the Doctor.

Or two.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sound of Water is now available!

I am so proud to be part of this supplement. And to find myself listed among game design greats such as  John Kennedy, Ryan Macklin, jim pinto, Steve Radabaugh, Josh Roby, Brie Sheldon, John Wick, and of course, Ben Woerner is such an honor.   I also have to thank Fabien Badilla for the awesome artwork that accompanies my pages.

Sound of Water is now available on drivethrurpg.

At the ancient pond
An old frog plunges into
The sound of water
- Basho

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