Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth – Mediation Phase 5

#UAHappiestPlaceonEarth

Sebastian’s player was late due to some appointments so we started the session with the other members of the Waffle House Four (Three) getting together the next day. Also this session was a little shorter because I started to get a headache that just wasn’t quitting.

Da’Mon, Patrick and Alexander meet at the Waffle House and become concerned when Sebastian doesn’t show up. Da’Mon texts him and doesn’t get a response. Worried for their friend, Alexander and Patrick head to his place to check on him while Da’Mon goes to work.

Patrick and Alexander find Sebastian’s apartment door kicked in and his apartment trashed. They find Sebastian’s cellphone in a back room. A neighbor tells them he saw three men (it was only two) kick in the apartment and then go running off. He doesn’t know where Sebastian is but hopes he’s okay.

Patrick and Alexander spend the rest of the day checking out the area to see if they find Sebastian. When they don’t have success with that, they clean up his apartment and wait for him there until its time to go back to Carmine Oddities to follow up with Jimmy.

Meanwhile, Da’Mon goes to work and starts his shift. During one of his breaks, he is walking through the Utilidors when the color drains from the area and Pluto appears. Da’Mon immediately pulls out his phone and starts recording. Pluto urges Da’Mon to follow him down a corridor and leads him to an ornate door. Going through the door, Da’Mon finds a colorful, cheerful Mickey wearing tarry cloth robe and drinking a scotch.

Mickey explains to Da’Mon that he knows that Goofy has been weighing on his mind a lot recently and that he shouldn’t be too hard on Goofy because he isn’t in control of his own actions. When Da’Mon asks who is controlling Goofy, Mickey says that it is so hard to tell because mortals are so hard to tell apart. There are only a few special mortals, and Da’Mon is one of them. Mickey explains that he and his friends have been here for so long and that they’ve been confined here for so long. Once, they were able to roam the land.

Hearing this last part, Da’Mon suggests that perhaps he can help Mickey and his friends. Mickey asks if Da’Mon is suggesting they make a bargain. Da’Mon becomes wary and says that he couldn’t enter into a bargain without his friends knowing about it and that he would have to talk it over. Da’Mon is also leery of accepting a drink from Mickey.

Mickey says he understands and offers him an easy way to find his way to him again. He give Da’Mon Toodles and tells him that to find him again, all he needs to do is take Toodles out and say, “Oh, Toodles!” and it will guide him to Mickey.

When Da’Mon leaves, he finds himself back in the Utilidors with the hallway gone. He checks his phone and finds darkness and spectral images fill the video that he took. In addition, three hours have passed. Da’Mon panics that he is going to lose his job. When he encounters his supervisor, he says that he had passed out.

Before going back out into the park, he texts Patrick, “Hinkey shit. Really hinkey shit.”

After work, Patrick and Alexander pick up Da’Mon and drive to Carmine Oddities. Da’Mon relates his encounter with Mickey while Patrick and Alexander tell him of Sebastian’s apartment.

They pull up in front of Carmine Oddities and head to the door as they are hailed by a familiar voice.

The night before…

Sebastian comes out from between two buildings and sees the two figures come out of his apartment. They spot him and Sebastian takes off through the complex running between cars, across the parking lots, and through bushes with the two men in pursuit. Racing down one of the main streets bumping into people, Sebastian narrowly missing being hit by a car, instead sliding smoothly across the hood and continues running. He manages to catch a bus just as it begins to pull away from the stop and leave his pursuers behind and promptly throws up.

After taking several buses, he goes to a low rent motel and passes out from exhaustion. He awakes mid morning and finds a payphone to call out from work because he just can’t lose his job. Sebastian goes to the Waffle House and finds that his friends aren’t there. He decides to take a circuitous route to Carmine Oddities and waits at a nearby McDonald’s. When he sees his friends pull up, he quickly leaves and calls out to them.

His friends are glad to see him and worried about the news that he brings while Sebastian is also shocked by Da’Mon’s encounter. Patrick suggests that he goes back to Sebastian’s apartment and waits with him to see if his assailants return.

The four of them turn toward the door of Carmine Oddities to see what news Jimmy has for them.

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Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth – Mediation Phase 4

#UAHappiestPlaceonEarth

The players logged in to Roll20 and was greeted by this:

Give it back

It’s two days before the Waffle House Four head to Carmine Oddities Boutique to try to learn about the box. The cabal is trying to keep a low profile.

In that time, Sebastian checks to see if John McBhee is still working in the park and finds that he is still fulfilling work orders. He spots Goofy several times during his rounds, even in places where costumed Cast Members wouldn’t normally be.

Da’Mon is on edge and constantly on the lookout for Creepy Goofy but doesn’t spot him. He regularly talks to his deceased grandmother, often hoping for an answer to guiding him through the current situation.

During Patrick’s shifts, he also spots Goofy several times and finds it to be more than coincidence that it is in places before he arrives there. He tries to bring some normalcy to his life by going out with his girlfriend, Maris.

Alexander tries to be low key and continues to visit the park daily. He checks in with Cindy and Larry. Larry seems to be his usual self. While talking with Cindy, Alexander asks her if she ever goes on any of the rides. In that moment, he remembers a moment when he was standing on line for a ride with Cindy, laughing and talking. Alexander begins to sweat and panics. He awkwardly excuses himself and flees the park. He sits in his car and waits to calm down before driving to the Waffle House.

Alexander is the last to arrive at the Waffle House. He looks shaken to the core and tells the cabal of this memory. He questions who he is and wonders if he is the same person from that memory. He wonders if Cindy has been changed. Alexander wonders if any of them are who they think they are.

Patrick remembers going on the rides while Sebastian knows he has tested the rides after repairs. Da’Mon knows that he has never gone on any of the rides at Disney World and thinks this is unusual in and of itself.

Alexander reasons that he has to be who he thinks he is, that his parents are the same.

Once Alexander has calmed down, Patrick and Sebastian tell the others that Goofy seemed to be following them during their days at the park.

Following this, the Waffle House Four go to Carmine Oddities Boutique to speak with the owner, Jimmy. After being greeted and Da’Mon making introductions, they show him the box. Jimmy examines the circuit board with a jeweler’s glass and finds minuscule writing on the circuits in several different languages. He can make out saying about family in several of the languages. Sayings about happy families.

Jimmy tells them that the box appears to be some form of sympathetic magick linked to directing families or having some sort of influence over families. Jimmy asks them what the hell is going on and the cabal clues him in by showing the footage of Goofy.

Alexander wonders if it will only affect families that are happy, while Da’Mon says that maybe it’s doing something good and putting people that shouldn’t be together with other people. Sebastian responds strongly to this, saying that’s not how it’s done, to which Da’Mon replies that maybe it is.

Jimmy offers to try to learn more about the box by talking to a couple of people that know more. Seeing their hesitation, he says that he will have something for them in 24 hours. Da’Mon expresses his concern about Goofy coming after him outside the park. Jimmy thinks that its a spirit, possibly a loa riding a horse and can’t leave the park.

Leaving the box with Jimmy, the cabal discusses their next move. After some deliberation, they decide they need to capture Goofy. Da’Mon thinks he will need to consult the spirits to learn how to capture this entity.

Sebastian returns to his apartment that evening. As he unlocks his door, he hears footsteps behind him. He turns to seem two guys from Disney, a couple of jerkwads.

Polaroid Picture Frame: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/photo-paper

As he turns, they rush toward him. Sebastian enters his apartment, slams the door shut, and pushes the couch against the door. They begin to break the door down. Sebastian calls 911 while the duo continue to pound against the door which begins to crack. Sebastian looks for a place to hide or a way out. As the door begins to break, he climbs out his window and runs in a panic as door finally gives way. In his rush, Sebastian gets turned around and ends up in front of his own apartment as his pursuers come out of his apartment and spot him.

Suddenly, the race is on…

Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth – Antagonist Phase 4 (No Players Allowed)

#UAHappiestPlaceonEarth

So things are about to ramp up next session and some chickens are going to come home roost. Let’s take a quick look at the actions taken in the last session by the protagonists.

  • They stole one of the boxes and replaced it with a fake.
  • They did so by taking it from someone who is supposed to do the installation.
  • Their spy camera was discovered by Creepy Goofy.

So the boxes are the way that the Room of the Perfect Family is able to affect the rides and rearrange families. When there isn’t an increase in productivity (family reorientations), Walt is going to know about it and he’s going to want answers. He’ll find out that the box isn’t working and why. Even though the replica is good, it isn’t magickal.

In addition, he is already going to know that something is up because Goofy is going to report the camera…or will he? Goofy is very much like Undead Mickey. He is something far older than his incarnation as Goofy. Would such an entity think to report this initially? Probably not but once Walt knows something is wrong, he is going to talk to Goofy about it.

So this is going to lead them to have a conversation with McBhee…who isn’t going to know anything. Now will they kill him? Initially, I wanted to use his death as a way to drive home the stakes and make Sebastian feel really guilty…hit his Violence guage. But I think this is an opportunity to really drive home the insidiousness of what is going on by having McBhee’s family rearranged.

I made sure that McBhee mentioned having two girls to Sebastian when they were talking. And I’m actually retconning that a bit in my write up of the session by also adding in his pointing to a picture of his kids during the conversation.

Now if the cabal doesn’t go back to McBhee, I may have to be a bit heavy handed and having him end up dead. but I’ll see.

The other thing is that once Walt realizes that it isn’t McBhee, he is going to check security cameras himself and see who entered the room after the box was delivered. So now the stakes have gone up drastically for Sebastian, and thus the group.

They are going to have a chance to learn a bit more of what’s going on next session by going to Carmine Oddities Boutique, which is awesome because it is a real place.

I just have to say that there is so much real weird stuff out there that you don’t have to make up a lot of stuff to have a weird supernatural game.

They will have a chance to learn that the boxes are acting as a key to the door to the Room and that the charges it gets from the families that go through reach a certain point and then activate so that a group will go through the Room.

So between the Antagonist becoming fully aware of what is going on and their gaining some knowledge, things are about to go to a new level for the protagonists.

Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth – Mediation Phase 3

#UAHappiestPlaceonEarth

The Waffle House Four meet the next morning at their favorite breakfast joint. Alexander is uncharacteristically late, dressed in the same clothes from the night before and looking haggard. He sat quietly at the table after ordering a banana split. Meanwhile, Sebastian pulls out three non-descript boxes, the candidates for replacing the black box that Jonathan McBhee is scheduled to installed in two days. Their waitress sees the black boxes and her eyes go wide but the group pays no mind (while the GM comments how the black boxes look strangely IED-like).

​Finally noting Alexander’s change in demeanor, Patrick asks him what’s up. After some cajoling, he shows the cabal the video footage from Da’Mon’s spycam. Seb and Patrick soon notice that Goofy is regularly seen in the footage looking in Da’Mon’s direction. When Da’Mon sees this as well, he flips out. He begins shouting and banging on the table, repeatedly yelling, “Goofy!” Finally, he bursts out of the Waffle House shouting and screaming, as he runs down the street. He eventually calms down and returns to the Waffle House where he sits down and covers his eyes like a child watching a scary movie.

​Before Da’Mon’s return, the Waffle House manager approaches the table but is intercepted by Patrick who explains that his friend just got some bad news and that everything is okay. He points out that the black boxes are just replicas and that everything is fine.

​As the piece de resistance Alexander points out the most startling feature of the video. While Da’Mon looks through his fingers and avoids watching the movie, Seb and Patrick watch as Goofy looks at the camera…and blinks. Da’Mon sees Seb flinch which makes him even more anxious. The rest of the cabal decide that Da’Mon needs to see this, just not while sitting in the Waffle House.

​They show the video while sitting in Patrick’s car in a Publix parking lot. Da’Mon is less alarmed by the blinking Goofy than he is by the fact that Goofy was following him and he just never noticed.

​After calming down, the cabal wonder if Goofy could only be seen on video, if it was a spirit that they couldn’t see. Alexander and Da’Mon decide to keep an eye out for Goofy while Patrick checks the park security cameras to see Goofy interacted with others during the time it was watching Da’Mon. Sebastian decides to get a few extra cameras before going into work and then he is going to check out John McBhee’s work area.

​While Alexander and Da’Mon have a largely uneventful day, Patrick does see that Goofy did interact with other people while following Da’Mon, but often in ways that just seem unsettling. Covering faces, hugging a bit too long or too hard. More children try to get away from Goofy after interacting with him than wanting to play with the cuddly dog. But no doubt about it, Goofy was really in the park.

​Sebastian locates McBhee’s workstation, only to find him there. He makes idle conversation, talking about work and the rides. McBhee mentions that he really doesn’t enjoy the rides but, pointing to a picture on his desk, mentions that his daughter’s love the roller coasters. Sebastian learns that the box is going to be installed at Big Thunder.

​Before leaving for the day, Sebastian returns to the workstation and installs the spy cam. On his way to the Waffle House, he kicks himself for not thinking to plant a camera in Walt Lewis’ office.

​After a brief meeting at the Waffle House, now at an out of the way table, they decide that Sebastian and Patrick will return to the park and get the box. They know that Goofy delivered the last box around three in the morning. Patrick and Sebastian decide to watch the security camera to see if Goofy delivers the box. They watch and wait then shortly after 3am, they see the a shadow come down the hall and coalesce into the lovable Disney character carry the box with an almost reverent air. Goofy enters the room and emerges several minutes later. After a brief wait, Sebastian nervously makes his way to the workstation where he trades out the black box for the replica and retrieves the spy cam.

​Back at the Waffle House, Alexander examines the video footage while Sebastian opens the box. Once again, they find the circuit board without a power source with wires soldered to a picture of a family. Da’Mon posits that it may be a spirit camera but does not sense and energy from it. He suggests that he may know of someone that would be able to help them, the proprietor of Carmine Oddities Boutique.

​Alexander finds the footage of Goofy delivering his unusual package. What he sees next he shows to the rest of the Waffle House Four: As Goofy walks away, it stops and turns to the camera. It approaches and moves in for a closer look. Pull away from the camera, he slowly waves a chastising finger in from of the camera.

March Kickstarters Have Come In Like A Lion

While I wait for my next Unknown Armies session to take place (fingers crossed for this coming Wednesday) I wanted to post something about Kickstarters that have me really excited.

For some reason March is hitting me particularly hard and there are several that have started and one more that I’m waiting for toward the end of the month. Fortunately Atlas Games has taken mercy on me and are holding off my n the Over the Edge Kickstarter until the end of April.

The first one actually started in February and will be ending in 12 days as of this writing. Summerland Tabletop RPG from Fire Ruby Designs is a new edition of a post-apocalyptic RPG where the world has been overtaken by vegetation and the PCs wander the world as outcasts. It is being brought to us by the same people that did Exilium, itself a second edition of a transhumanist science fiction RPG. Exilium has beautiful art and Fire Ruby is bringing those same design qualities to Summerland. Both games use an iteration of Open D6 while also doing interesting narrative thinks with the system. Well worth the look.

Next up is Cartel from Mark Diaz Truman and Magpie Games. I saw the ashcan version of this about two years ago. It’s Powered by the Apocalypse to tell the story of a Mexican drug cartel. If you are thinking Breaking Bad, you’re on the right track. Now add in a strong cultural influence. While I wonder if I’d be able to get my group to play it, the quick start is so great looking, I just can’t wait to see the full game.

Another one is Capers from Craig Campbell of Nerd Burger Games. It puts 1920s gangsters together with superpowers. This isn’t a four color comic book game. The PCs are gangsters with superpowers. The system is playing card based. I like superpower settings where there aren’t costumes running around.

The next one going on hits all my nostalgia buttons: Freedom Squadron. This Savage World’s Setting is from Sean Patrick Fannon of Evil Beagle Games and is based on the setting in the VENOM Assault board game by Spyglass Games. It has all the trappings of G.I. Joe. An international counterterrorism force trying to stop VENOM, a terrorist organization that has been operating since the 19th Century. It is full on G.I. Joe with code-named commandos and all. This is one that has me very excited as I really loved G.I. Joe. The cartoon, the comic, the toys. And it looks really good. I just can’t believe I’ll have to wait until October for the game.

Finally, on March 27th, Ulisses North America will launch the Kickstarter for the first cosm sourcebook for Torg Eternity: The Living Land. Of all the cosms, this is the one I’m drawn to the most.

This is quite a month. There are so many more Kickstarters that have started or are ending this month but these are the ones I’m looking forward to the most. And Atlas Games? I’ll see you in April.

Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth – Antagonist Phase 3 (No Players Allowed)

Like I said in my previous post, I’m particularly proud of how the last session went, especially since I think I spooked one of the players twice. While this isn’t a full antagonist phase, I wanted to write about the emerging story that is occurring behind the scenes.

Maybe I’m doing this wrong but I haven’t had a definite direction for the antagonists. Their side of the story has been slowly coming into focus. Initially, I identified two or three antagonists during the creation phase of the game: Walter Lewis and Creepy Goofy, along with The Gate Keepers that haven’t made an appearance yet but I keep thing of as enforcers for Walter.

As the game has progressed, Walter has become the main antagonist and has grown into an Agent of Renunciation as he tries to expand entrances to the Room of the Perfect Family. (I may have referred to it as the Room of the Happy Family in a previous post but I think “Perfect” is a better name.)

In addition to this, I was thinking that Walter Lewis was actually Walt Disney in a new body, twisted by his journey into the Room and transformed to be more suitable form for the Room’s purposes.

Then it occurred to me last night during the game: Walter Lewis isn’t Walt Disney. He usurped Walt Disney and continues to keep him around. Larry is Walt Disney. I even think he looks like him a little.

Maybe I only see it. I think it makes a much more tragic situation. I’ve already decided that going through the room repeatedly can have a detrimental effect on a person and Walter has forced Larry through there a number of times. Even though Larry doesn’t have any memories of being Walt Disney, Walter likes to keep him around. It makes him feel good.

Why does Walter Lewis hate Walt Disney so much? I’m not sure yet. That is still evolving.

Another thing that I had trouble with was fitting Creepy Goofy into the story. He was initially going to be a force of chaos but I was having trouble working him into the story. Now he’s connected to Walter, or at least the Room, and has a greater part in the story.

I have a clear direction for next session. The players are going to try to get a hold of a black box. I’m excited to confront them with the consequences if they carry it off.

Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth – Mediation Phase 2

#UAHappiestPlaceonEarth

(I thought last night’s session went particularly well and I’m particularly proud that I unsettled one player twice and gave an “oh shit” moment to another)

Another night and once again the newly named Waffle House Four plan their next move. The cabal realizes that they need to gather more information and, if they can, get a hold of one of the black boxes that Sebastian had installed in Space Mountain. Alexander wants to get evidence of the changes that happen on the rides and Da’Mon volunteers to wear a spycam the next time he goes out into the park. Sebastian and Patrick are going to check the work orders to see if there are any scheduled black box installations coming up, as well as trying to find out where the black boxes are being made. Alexander plans on getting the spycam and also wants to check in with Larry, the custodian, to see if he knows anything about the black boxes.

Alexander purchases two spycams from a local electronic store, while the other three head in to work. Da’Mon discovers the hard way that someone has filled the shoes of his Minnie costume with chocolate pudding. Seeing Goofy’s head sticking out between two other costumes, he grabs him and pulls out an empty suit. With a curse, he kicks the costume across the floor where it lands at the feet of Snow White. By way of explanation, Da’Mon says, “I hate Goofy.” Snow White crushes a cigarette butt under her heel, “Yeah, he creeps me out too.”

After cleaning his costume, Da’Mon goes to a section of corridors where he has felt the presence of spirits and opens his senses. Moments later, he hears a cheerful “Hey, it’s me! Mickey Mouse” as an ancient Mickey Mouse emerges from a side corridor. Mickey is black and white, as though he were in an old movie. He stumbles about, collapsing on the ground. Da’Mon learns that he is the first Mickey and has always been here…even before Disney World. Mickey tells Da’Mon that there is some “really hinkey shit” going on at the park. When Da’Mon asks where the black boxes are made, Mickey tells him, “look for the door that isn’t a door. Look for the 33.” Mickey disappears down a side corridor and the color returns to the world.

Creepy Mickey !

Alexander enters the park and starts to search for Larry. He stops to see Cindy to apologize for not coming back the other day. The ever cheerful Cindy is happy to see him. After exchanging pleasantries, Alexander asks if she’s seen Larry. She directs him to look near the Main Street Theater.

Patrick and Sebastian remain in the utilidors and stop at one of the maintenance offices. They find a work order for black box that is scheduled to be installed two days from now by a worker named Jonathan McBhee. The two of them begin to hatch a plan to steal the black box that McBhee is supposed to install and replace it with a fake. They proceed to a machine shop to see if they can find where the black boxes are made. Seb and Patrick don’t find anything but Seb is sure that he can make a duplicate in time to make the switch. Sebastian explains that he found the box at his workstation when he came in that morning. Patrick decides to check the camera footage for that night in the hallway near the machine shop.

Alexander finds Larry cleaning up trash near the Main Street Theater. Larry greets him excitedly. Poor Larry meanders his way through the conversation with his stuttering speech and tangential thoughts but isn’t able to help Alexander, although he promises to watch out for any black boxes. As Alexander turns to go, a moment of clarity grips Larry. He places a comforting hand on his shoulder and says with uncharacteristic seriousness, “You take care of yourself, Alexander” and the moment passes. Alexander walks away, looking back at Larry, who ambles down the street. Alexander finishes the day by recording people as they ride Magic Carpets of Aladdin.

File Dec 09, 9 27 15 AM

When Da’Mon and Alexander meet up at lunch to hand off the spycam, Da’Mon excitedly tells him of his encounter with “Undead Mickey.” Da’Mon agrees to look for 33 and the door that isn’t a door while shooting footage of the rides. Da’Mon eventually comes across Club 33 and sees people going in and out of the door. He notes that they seem to be better dressed than your average Disney World visitor. While he watches the door, he sees Walter Lewis come out of the club and follows him through the park to City Hall.

 

Sebastian goes to the commissary and asks around about the workers who did previous black box installations. Most of them dropped off the map after leaving Disney but Joel Palmer still lives near Orlando. Joel left Disney over five months ago but his name appeared on a work order within the last month. After lunch, Sebastian pushes through his work day.

As his fellows are headed to the Waffle House, Patrick continues to pour over surveillance footage. He speeds watches the tape until, at 1pm, he sees a figure walking down the corridor toward the workshop door. As the figure comes closer, it’s revealed to be Goofy holding a black box. Patrick traces Goofy’s steps back to Club 33. With that, he races to the Waffle House to reveal the news.

While they wait for Patrick, the other members of the Waffle House Four share what they’ve discovered. Patrick arrives with his discovery and they all let it sink in. Alexander switches cameras with Da’Mon and goes whom to review the footage.

In the late night hours, Alexander watches Da’Mon’s journey through the park and notices a figure in the background. It’s Goofy staring at Da’Mon. But really, can a costume stare? Then there he is again. Looking right at Da’Mon. And again. Alexander speeds up the video and again and again, there’s Goofy, looking right at the Da’Mon. Always in the background. Alexander presses play and watches Goofy in realtime, staring at the freakishly cheerful face just as…

(If you are players in my game, STOP HERE, you’ll find out soon enough)

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…just as Goofy blinks.