Lacuna, Part I. The Birth of Mystery and the Girl from Blue City
Three new players for a Lacuna session, with three others who have played in the earlier sessions. This session was a bit more heavy on the story, which sadly did make the new players kinda more lost than I wanted to. Bad Tobie. Must make it up for them.
But like before, opened the game with everyone at the table. We ordered four boxes of pizza, which I decided was part of the game without telling them outright. As I portrayed the Receptionist (whom the players really insisted was someone who looked like Jeri Ryan), I guided the three new recruits in creating their characters, then very nonchalantly informed them that they were all enjoying pizza sent "by Senior Agent Miner." As they ate and refilled their glasses, I introduced the older players to the new ones, citing them as successful Mystery Agents of the Company. The older players mused on which of them will have a leadership position, and I informed them of who among them had been nominated by Senior Agents to be the Lead Agent. Agents Currier, Harper and Mason sat down, ready for the worst, and once the three new ones confirmed their readiness for entry into the Blue City, I switched to the theme track and slowly killed the lights.
In the Blue City, the first to open his eyes was one of the new recruits, Agent Skinner, who found himself in a room filled with broken mirrors. The sounds of a construction crew working in the dead of the night drew him to the only window in the room. He headed towards the door which had no doorknob and worriedly decided to peek inside before opening the door. An eye. There was someone watching him, who then promptly ran off.
Agent Voss, the second new guy found himself in a similar room, although his was devoid of broken mirrors. He checked outside the window for a possible way out and saw the old rickety fire escape that was just outside. He then headed to the door and without hesitation opted to kick it open.
Agent Mason and Agent Currier awoke in the same room. Currier immediately mused on how rare it was to find another Agent nearby. The two looked around and thankfully realized the room they were in had a door and window. Quickly calling to Control, Mason established contact to learn about the mission parameters.
Agent Harper opened his eyes to find he was on another rooftop with the last new agent, Foster. The two looked over the edge and saw the fire exit. Then surveyed the area for a way down. There was the shed with the staircase, and a second shed that seemed to be made of barbed wire. The two approached the shed and saw some white porcelain thing inside, but they could not find a way to reach it.
Mason's call with Control reveal the following mission parameters:
1) Located Hostile Personality Ragdoll.
2) Eliminate Hostile Personality
3) Plant Lacuna Device on HP
4) Eject HP
5) Gather at the Garden
6) Eliminate Scarlet Personality
7) Plant Lacuna Device on SCarlet
As Mason Called the rest of the agents, he quickly surmised that Voss and Skinner were nearby, and gave directions to meet up. Harper and Foster were to meet with them via the Elevator, which they all agreed would most likely be in the shed at the roofdeck. The elevator started moving, however, suggesting someone was already inside. As the four gathered by the elevator, Currier's ability as a Writer allowed her to read that the Elevator was indeed headed up, and that the floor they were on was the fourteenth.
Voss and Skinner started to notice small messages being sent to them. A small note was slipped through the crack in the wall. The note seemed to be empty, but when Currier checked, she could see words written on it. "Please help me," it seemed to say and it had a symbol of an egg or an eye on it.
The Elevator stopped at the roof and Harper and Foster quickly stepped inside. Neither was a Writer, however and could not read the numbers on the panel. The building, based on Currier's reading, had 31 floors. But the panel before them only showed fifteen buttons. Randomly pressing two, Harper hoped for the best while Foster kept his gun trained towards the door, in case anyone else appears. It stops two floors past where the others were. Harper decides it would be better if the others meet them at their floor. Currier presses the button to call the elevator. But the moment Foster and Harper step out into the blackness of the twelfth floor, Mason discovers he can no longer Call them!
The elevator stops at their floor, and the group enters to head to the twelfth floor. But the elevator opens at the twelfth floor they see a 7-foot black man step in. The new agents act quickly, bringing the black man down to the floor as they disable him and hold him in a clinch. The group considers quickly their course of action, but Mason still cannot seem to Call out to the other Agents, a fact which is starting to greatly distress him.
In the darkness, Foster and Harper stay close uncertain what had just happened. A hand grabs Harper, which makes them nearly fire away. Instead they see someone with them who identifies himself as Senior Agent Miner, and quizzes them to confirm their identities. He asks for their Lacuna devices, which Harper and Foster opt not to give up. Miner steps back into the elevator and tells them they will be stuck here since they are in a "Junction Point" so to speak. Miner reveals to them they are in Deep-Blue Level.
The group force the black man to speak and he identifies himself as Ragas, but Voss and Skinner consider if he really is Ragdoll. The four step out of the elevator at the twelfth floor, dragging the beaten up man with them, to discover they two were now in Deep Blue. Harper and Foster nearly end up shooting at them as they arrive, and Mason very quickly recognizes where they are and asks them not to be startled. Mason uses his Cover identity and becomes a Spider, and then confronts Ragas. Ragas admits he is Ragdoll, and the team promptly eliminates him as per their Mission. Miner reappears, and the group all consider what he has to say. Harper feels unsure, since he had earlier spoken with Mason, but as it turns out that other Mason was a Hostile Personality that had attempted to look like him. This Miner shares what he can of the real deal. Of rumors that the Blue City is a place created from the collective dreams of others. That the Personalities in the Blue City might just be varying facets of a person. Perhaps a comatose individual. That the Eye manifestations might be the conscious mind of that said person. Especially given his desire to "get out". Miner asks for Harper and Foster's Lacuna devices, and alters it to broadcast a signal as if they were still in Blue level. To prove he was Miner, the group quiz him questions and eventually he mentions he sent them four boxes of Pizza to enjoy. Harper suggests they call Control, and Voss ends up making the call, which Control detects as coming from an unauthorized zone. Foster uses the hard line and Control informs them that they have been compromised. That Mason and the others reported they have vanished. And forcibly Ejects them. Harper and Foster throw their Lacuna devices away, allowing the devices to be shunted away without them. With that, Miner tells them he has to go, but that Kira can help them. The mission clearly is over. Getting out was the objective now. To do so, they have to all enter Black Level. They have to go deeper.
In Black, each experience a harrowing. Each one was tailored to the player's insecurities, with one of the new players being confronted with questions on whether or not he really feels he's ready to do this. Or if he enjoys being in missions. Or if he feels forced to try this job out of social pressures. Another player was confronted by his desire for power, with the harrowing appearing as if the game was over, and they were all back in Reception. The Receptionist congratulated him for the mission's success and gave him permission to mark down newly learned Techniques and Talents. Each one had their own challenges, with another being forced to rebuild a broken set of matryoshka dolls within three seconds. And the last had again the feeling that the game was over, with Mason being addressed by the Receptionist instead as if he were Vice-President Pope. When Mason admits he knows this is still Black Level, the Receptionist admits to being the "Eye" and warning him that "Eye shall be free. Eye already am free."
They awake on the slab. All have slight levels of consciousness to realize they are all naked and strapped to metal beds. Tubes and wires are on their bodies. And the people checking them quickly administer additional doses to bring them back to unconsciousness.
Mason catches another lost memory. A crowd watching. People staring. Him strapped to a chair. A tube filling. A curtain being drawn. A priest bowing.
This game session was a mixed bag. While it definitely was still fun and enjoyable, I committed the big mistake of letting my enthusiasm for the game override the fun for the new players. They still had fun, I was informed, but clearly I didn't get to let them have their spotlight moments.
The system for static was something the players picked up on this time. Two of them noticed how I started throwing tokens into a container each time any of them referred to the other with their real names. One noticed a token was added each time a device not related to the game could be heard. When they asked Miner about Static, Miner did explain how Static can affect your perception of the Blue City. And how some Senior Agents sadly carried Static with them.
But it was nice to see players picking up on such clues.
I also got to use this new fun thing in this game. From a nearby mall, my partner and I found this kit called Glow Crazy Distance Doodler, which had photo-sensitive paper and a light pen. In the dark, I could use the pen to "scribble" a message in the paper, which I then handed to a player. The player would peek, see the glowing words, and in the excitement hand it to the others who would inadvertently bring it under the lamp to see it better... effectively erasing all the writing! It was a crazy fun tool to add more paranoia in a Lacuna game.