Monday, April 6, 2015

Wax : Don't Rest Your Head

02/14/2015

Wax
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.

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