Lacuna Part I. The Creation of Mystery and the Girl from Blue City
The third game session was held a day after the second one. The same three players were in it again but this time, a fourth player decided to join the fun. While they were all outside the gaming area, I decided to throw a new level of psychological horror into the game. I printed out a bunch of new things to use in the game, then prepped the gaming area before any of them arrived. A new house rule that I've grown fond of sticking to for Lacuna games was to approach EVERYTHING in real time. The moment I had all the players done eating and with a drink ready, I would play my "Control talking to the Candidates/Debriefing Mystery Agents music" (This would be track 05 of The Devil's Advocate OST) and start talking to them as the Control officer who handles their case. I introduced each Mystery Agent to the new Candidate A, and then guided Candidate A through the recruitment process. While Candidate A made his rolls and marked down his choices, whenever any of the Mystery Agents would mention things outside their Clearance Level, I would stare at that person, show the fakest smile I can, and the GM in me would be dancing in joy as the player quickly reworded things as to not mention the contraband word. ("I hope we don't see those spide... sp... spies... again..")
(This early though, I just want to say... I WISH I took pictures. Darn. I guess we were all so into the mood that none of us thought to take pictures.)
Once Candidate A was done, I formally introduced him (Agent Mason) to the three others (Agents Stringer, Currier and Harper). Agent Mason had the luck of being trained by Senior Agent Chambers, and having chosen Caller as his Technique, the group quickly nominated him to be the Team Leader for this mission. As always, I reminded them that they will begin their mission with their standard uniform, a black business suit and pants, white shirt, blue necktie, leather shoes, black sunglasses and the Lacuna device (I handed out to them the Heart Dials created by Travis Carr, which once again are a spectacular device to add to the game) then started playing the Inception OST (admittedly, track 01 "Half Remembered Dream" and track 02 "We Built Our Own World" are perfect for the transition to the Blue City), stood up, and then in time with the music, began killing the lights in the room, until the game area was in utter darkness save for my laptop screen. I then turned on the small lamp we have that is set at the center of the table, to give just enough light for people to see their character records and their Lacuna dials, and started the tale.
Once again, the Mystery Agents discover their Injection did not go smoothly. I open with Agent Mason, the new player, who finds himself in a twenty foot by twenty foot white room. The room is empty of any other features save for a stool which he awakens to find himself sitting on, a flash light that has been placed two feet from his position, and a mark on the wall which is a tad hard to see given the lack of lights in the room. Somehow, the white walls provide some semblance of illumination enough for the Agent to see somewhat. But to see better, the flash light would be needed. (I placed an actual flash light two feet from him on the table, then went to a far wall and turned over a piece of paper that had been taped there since the start of the game. To see it better, he would have to use the flash light.) Agent Mason called out to Control and Control answered. It was the same female voice of Control in the past two missions. Agent Mason quickly learned how to request for Intelligence and asked for the Mission Parameters. They were as follows:
1) Locate the following Hostile Personalities: Aiza, Janus, Creed
2) Terminate Hostile Personalities.
3) Place Lacuna Device upon terminated Hostile Personality.
4) Engage Lacuna Device.
Agent Mason then reached out to the other Mystery Agents to get an idea where they were.
Agent Stringer was on a bench under a defective street light. The light flickered on and off. Agent Mason's voice reached him then, and he shared what he was seeing. Before him, the silhouettes of numerous buildings stood. Each building was around five or six stories tall, and longer than they were tall. He stood up, walked towards the first building, and noticed two men in the shadows close by who were smoking. Ignoring them, he walked up to the door and checked if it was locked. Aware of the mission, Stringer decided to walk alongside the buildings and see if he can find any further clues. When the smoking men called out to ask if he needed help, he chose to ignore them.
Agent Currier opened her eyes to find herself lying inside a wet bathtub. The bathtub was still filled with balls of wet hair, which squished as she pushed herself up. She heard Agent Mason's voice in her ear as if she had a bluetooth headset on, and replied that she seemed to be inside a building. As Mason gave her the mission details, someone outside the door to the bathroom she was in had heard her speaking and began calling out threateningly. "Is there someone in my house?" the voice angrily cried out, "Get the frak out of my house! Nobody sneaks into Janus' home. I'm armed! I'll hurt you!" Agent Currier realized she was in danger and opted to try to run out of the room if she could. Force was not at her side, however, and as she ran, the (now Hostile) Personality in the room bashed her in the face with a frying pan. Agent Mason realized Currier was in trouble and hoped someone could hurry to help her.
Agent Harper opened his eyes to find he was on the top of the building. Clotheslines were all around. Occasionally, the sound of something scurrying around could be heard. He heard Mason's voice and quickly received the mission parameters. Scouting around the rooftop, he could not find a way down from the outside. He did see instead a car driving towards their location. Turning back towards the shed on the roof, he pried open the door and began to head downstairs. Hopefully, Agent Mason could give him Intel on where Agent Currier was in time.
Agent Mason shone the light to the wall and discovered what was painted on it: An Eye. As Agent Mason talked to Control about the situation, he asked if he could requisition items and have them sent to other Agents. (Control said No.) He then asked if Control could tell the nearest Agent how to get to Agent Currier. (Control said No.) Frustrated, he muttered about being trapped in a doorless and windowless room, and this grabs the woman's interest. She asks Agent Mason how many eyes have appeared, and Agent Mason replies one (but as he talks, I stand up, walk to another side of the room and reveal a second eye that was hiding behind some stuff above the refrigerator).. then corrects that he can now see two. This catches the Control's interest and she tells him to please hold. Control forgets she is working with a Caller (having been the same one with the previous two missions who were solely dependent on Hard Lines) and she contacts higher levels of Clearance while forgetting Agent Mason can still hear her. Mason overhears her identifying herself as Mythography Agent Kira and her request to be connected to Vice-Director Weller. She mentions, "The Eyes have manifest again sir. And yes, two so far. I see. Five. And the Agent is to Eject. Confirmed. I'll inform the Mystery Agent at once." When she returns to contact Agent Mason, Mason cooly reveals to her he overheard her ("So Kira... how was your weekend?") and when she realizes she had broken clearance levels, he suggests to her to help them out or he'll report her mistake.
Agent Stringer sees the incoming car, and hides in one of the alleyways between buildings. The red car parks in front of the building, and a woman in a bright yellow outfit steps down. Her hair is tightly pressed against her head. Her long legs shimmer in the darkness. She walks straight to the building and ignores the smoking men who try to be friendly and greet her, "Hey Aiza." Realizing she's the target, Agent Stringer quickly rushes to the door once Aiza slips inside, and uses his foot to keep it from closing and locking again. The smoking guys stare at him, but he ignores them and slides into the corridor. An old-school elevator is clanking aloud, informing Stringer that Aiza had used it, and he watches the arrow eventually stop at the third level. Stringer rushes up the stairs to find her. In the corridor, the lights are all out save for light cast from one room that had left a door open. He rushes towards it, ready to act. Little did he know, Agent Harper was at this floor earlier, and saw Aiza step into her room, but he then received Mason's instructions on where to find Currier, and he headed back up one flight of stairs.
Agent Currier is hit a few more times and soon finds enough strength to push and shove the attacker backwards. She hurries out into the corridor to discover it is pitch black. She decides to stop, knowing while in the corridor, the attacker cannot see her. (I then stood up, and killed even the lamp by the table, reducing the room to pitch back save for the light from my laptop, which I shielded with a brown envelop) In the darkness, Agent Currier slowly backpedals. I describe how the attacker emerges from the doorway with the steak knife, and then carefully scans the corridor for any sign of the intruder. Then, steps out of the light and into the darkness as well! Agent Currier gasps as she realizes they were both invisible to each other now! She continues to back pedal slowly, hoping to reach the stairwell before the other found her.
Agent Harper hurries down and as Mason informs him of Agent Currier's location, he sees her backing out of darkness and pulls her into his arms. The two have a moment of comfort, before they realize their fatal mistake: being in the area where the light from the stairwell spills into the corridor makes them now both visible to the attacker. She emerges from the darkness, screaming bloody murder with the knife in her hands. The first stab misses Agent Currier, who ducks past the swing, then entangles herself around the attacker from behind to grapple her. Agent Harper then pries the knife out of her hand. As the woman struggles against Currier, Agent Harper then stabs the knife into the woman's throat.
Agent Mason tries to get Kira to explain what the room and eyes are. Two more eyes have manifested (One was hidden behind a stack of books, this time opposite the side of the room where the refrigerator was. The other was behind a small cloth poster that was hanging on the wall. The effect was the eyes were "surrounding the player") and Mason was getting worried cause that was now four. Kira explained the last Agent to report about the eyes had seen only up to five before he was KIA. Mason fingers his Lacuna device, tempted to Eject, but tempted to see if he can learn more as well. He asks Kira about the Requisition rules (this being his first mission) and asks if he can requisition a Bazooka, and (after succeeding his Access Logistics check) he is informed he has been given one. He stands up and finds it behind him. That moment, the fifth eye emerges (This was a massive eye print out I had taped on the top of a computer monitor. So I swung it down to reveal it.)
Agent Stringer reaches the doorway and finds it left open. On the floor, Aiza's body had been left behind like a second skin. Whatever was inside Aiza, it seems, was now in the bathroom and could be heard moving inside. Stringer sneaks into the room and grabs the nearest lampshade and the moment the thing steps out, bashes it in the face with it. Then while it is down, turns the ruined lamp upside down to use the jagged part as a stabbing implement.
Agent Currier and Harper inform Mason (once he calls out to them to check on their status) that they have brought down one of the Targets and he quickly relates to them the next steps. ("Just in case I don't make it out alive, you know the rest of the mission.") For a moment Currier fears this means they have to stay in the Blue City. But Harper quickly tells him to go to the nearest door, use the phone there to call Control and requisition for a Lacuna Device. They are issued a Lacuna Device by Control who tells them, "You will find it in the small cabinet above the bathroom sink." Harper sees the body wriggling, and from the back, tiny limbs tear out! Like legs of a spider, the limbs reach out of the torn body of Janus and attempt to strangle Harper. Harper's attempts to use the knife to break free fail as the knife is pulled by the thing away from Harper's hands, and a Spiderman's face emerges from the corpse! Currier requisitions for a Machine Gun, and Control quickly delivers it, stating it is in the bath tub. Currier grabs the weapon, shoves it against the monstrosity, and opens fire. The Spiderman drops dead. They slip the Lacuna device on the corpse, click the dial and watch it disappear.
Agent Mason sees two more eyes emerge. Even worse, the eyes have started to blink and follow Mason with their gaze. (The sixth was a huge one I pasted behind a cabinet door. I casually opened it while walking around the gaming area and the seventh was another Eye hidden among the shelves. By this time, the other players were all gasping and struggling NOT to say a word. They knew they could not comment, since it was not their scene, but it was clear they were all looking around the room for where more eyes could be, and clearly wanted to tell Agent Mason's player to Eject!) Agent Mason calls out to Control, but this time, a different MALE voice answers. He quickly grasps that Control must have been monitoring the conversation and had Kira removed. He informs Control that things are no longer safe, and that he will have to Eject, but Control is unable to answer and all Agent Mason hears is static. (As this point, with the tension at its peak, I walk to the far side of the room, where we have a window. I plug in the cord and flick the switch and lo and behold the final Eight eye appears. I had taped Christmas lights on to the window in the shape of a massive eye. In the darkness of the gaming area, the illuminated EYE pops into view and the dancing lights makes it all even more surreal.) "Eye can see you," the Eye demands. "Eye want to be free. Eye demand you let me go. Eye will not harm you. Eye command you to leave your Lacuna device on the floor!" Agent Mason fires the Bazooka at the eye, but after the explosion, the eye remains unharmed. Feeling no other option exists, he Ejects.
Agent Stringer contacts Control and uses Access to requisition a second Lacuna device. Control responds and sends him one, and as he shunts the Hostile Personality target away, hears the phone ring again. He picks it up and a voice answers, "Ttttthis is c-c-c-c-control. You are to leave your Lac-c-c-c-cuna Device on the floooooor." He starts to feel something is wrong about this. As he replaces the phone on the handset, he begins to hear more phones ringing in the same floor. He realizes as he walks down the corridor the ringing sounds are "following him" as if phones within his vicinity are ringing once he's near. He hurries down the stairs, feeling more certain it would be better NOT to answer any more.
Agent Currier feels her heart pounding, and tells Harper to find the last one. Without their Team Leader, the group is worried things are falling apart. Agent Harper contacts Control and requisitions for a deadlier weapon, and Control informs him the weapon is in the trunk of the car parked outside the building. Agent Currier sits down to try and meditate before her heart bursts. Agent Harper heads downstairs to find the weapon. He hears the sound of ringing phones ahead of him, but they seem to stop on their own before he gets to them.
Agent Stringer rushes out of the building and wonders where to find the last target. The smoking man asks him again if everything is okay, and it is then Stringer notices the second smoking man is actually "attached" to the first from the waist level. The second smoking man tells the first, "Leave him alone, Creed. Mind your own business." And Creed tells the other guy, "Why don't you go away and leave me to handle this." The second man detaches from creed and begins to crawl away. Realizing he is the target, Stringer tries to bring Creed down. But Creed, upon realizing Stringer is trying to kill him, reveals something unexpected: "Don't shoot! I'm one of you! I'm one of you! I've been undercover! Don't shoot!" While Stringer ponders on whether or not Creed's words can be trusted, Harper tears through the door and rushes to the car. He breaks the window and pulls the switch to pop the truck. He grabs the gun pieces and begins locking them together to use the weapon. "I've been undercover for months man.. years maybe.." Creed tries to explain, but Stringer isn't sure if he can trust him. In the distance, cars are closing in. Stringer suspects they are spidermen. The sky rumbles and it begins to rain. But what falls down are frogs. And as the frogs hit the ground, Harper yells at Stringer to drop down, opens fire, and blasts Creed away into mushy meat.
Agent Currier fails to settle her heart beat and heads down to help. The two others drag the corpse with them towards the building, but know they don't have much time before the spidermen arrive. The frogs that have fallen from the sky are now hopping alongside the Mystery Agents and instead of saying "ribbit" are saying, "Agent... agent..." as they leap. The three gather in the door closest to the entrance and quickly bar the door. Agent Harper feels his chest pounding as well and realizes none of them have an extra Lacuna Device. As the spidermen surround the building and demand the Agents come out to surrender, Agent Harper and Agent Stringer activate their devices and Eject. Agent Currier's Lacuna device fails to.
The Spidermen tear into the building.
Agent Currier tries her device a second time, but again it fails.
The sounds of trampling feet close in.
And as Agent Currier fears the worst, a blue girl appears and reaches for her hand. Agent Currier stares at the luminescent child and takes her hand. "Help me," she tells the child, sensing she is more than just a child in a dark spider-filled world. And Agent Currier feels the light envelop her.
(I started once again Track 5 of The Devil's Advocate, walked across the room to switch all the lights on)
Debriefing goes well. Control asks each of the Mystery Agents key questions on their mission, and all wisely opt NOT to give concrete answers on things that may be outside their Clearance levels. Control sadly informs them having failed the mission, none of them will be receiving new Techniques at the start of their next mission. She does commend them for all nearly reaching promotion.
Agent Mason recalls waking up from his Eject to find a kind old man sitting beside his bed. The man asks if Mason noticed anything strange, and admits that Mythography is sadly only clearance level Green. "We are not allowed to enter the Blue City. A pity, given the sights one can see." He then intones carefully, "Eye, wonder if there were any interesting details you were supposed to note? Interesting sights perhaps? Numbers..." Agent Mason decides to trust him and he slips the number Eight into his response. As the man leaves, someone notices the man at the door and calls out to him. "Vice-Director Pope, you aren't supposed to be there." The doors close before he catches the Vice-Director's response.
And Agent Currier keeps to herself her own Ejection. She once again opened her eyes far sooner than she should have. She finds herself strapped to a metal bed, her body intruded by numerous plastic tubes and wires. The two people handling her talk about how she has been "Successfully ejected. All signs are nominal. Heart beat is highly elevated by thankfully not too deep into the critical level." She hears them talking about her as "Disturbing" and how "I probably would never be willing to do what they do." Agent Currier drifted back into sleep and awoke to find herself already in the debriefing meeting.
And with that Control offered them donuts, suggested that since they had to abort the mission earlier than the expected three hours, they had some time to burn. "A movie, yes?" Control moved to the other side of the room and switched on the television screen.
(The players all stared at the television screen
as it suddenly showed video of a human eye,
blinking and looking about)
"Hmm," Control responded, as if seeing only static, "It doesn't seem to be working," and the image vanished. "I guess the movie will have to wait. Well then, Good night and til the next mission.
Given the weirdness of things, I'm sorely tempted to start explaining the logic behind them, but since my players love reading the blog posts too, I will have to save that for later posts. Those curious who aren't in the game can feel free to message me and I'll be sure to privately explain why I've approach things a certain way.