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.

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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.

Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth – Mediation Phase 1

Our first session was last night. Initially, I started the group in the park but it fumbled along a little and I figured that the group needed to discuss how to go about their investigation. I asked them where they met as group and they decided on the Waffle House. At the end of the session, everyone felt that it was a good first session. That the story seemed very organic and they all loved adding the Waffle House as a base of operations.

Waffle House

 

Session Recap

Eleven PM at the Waffle House and [insert cabal name here] are sharing what they know and making plans. After ordering their hashbrowns – All The Way, they know that people are being changed at the park and want to find out who is doing it.

Pooling their resources, this is what they know: Before being fired, Alexander had seen families getting on Pirates of the Caribbean and then the families would be jumbled up. He saw a parents leave with children from other families. Parent swap places between families. Alexander had tried the ride himself and experienced missing time. Da’Mon said that it must be spirits doing this. That even machines have spirits.

Patrick noted that episodes of one parent reporting a missing child while the spouse wouldn’t know what they were talking about. Parents were brought to a care center as a place to wait for their missing child and they always left happy.

Sebastian noted that he had been tasked with installing a piece of equipment on Space Mountain that had nothing to do with the ride. When he had brought it to the attention of his supervisor, he received a visit from Walter Lewis, the asshat that had fired Alexander. Walter told Sebastian, “Just do your job and leave the imagining to everybody else.”

Meanwhile Da’Mon said that creepy-ass Goofy has been watching him. Always watching him.

Recently, Alexander noted that other rides and experiences seem to be affected by whatever is happening. That kids at the Country Bear Jamboree seem to act stiffer after the event. While Sebastian has been pulled from other jobs at the last minute.

One thing Alexander noted about Walter Lewis: he was the type of supervisor who went through the park a lot.

They all realized the need for a game plan and decided that they needed to follow Walter. That he was a part of this in some way. Alexander and Patrick would be do this the next day. Meanwhile, Sebastian would try to look up who order the installation at Space Mountain and Da’Mon would look to see if any families were being affected by any of the rides.

The next day, Da’Mon was heading out into the park as Minnie Mouse when Goofy body checked him on the way in. When Da’Mon called him out in a Minnie voice, he was shocked when Goofy talked back and threatened him. Da’Mon threw a wrench that was lying around the utilidors and missed, then dashed out into the park when Goofy moved toward him. After moving through the park, signing autographs and taking pictures with children, Da’Mon went to watch families get on and off It’s A Small World. After two hours, he saw three families get on the ride and when the got off, one of the children leave with another of the families while another child left with other parents.

Da’Mon approached one of the families and found that they acted as though everything was normal.

Patrick waited in the corridors of the utilidors for Walter to come out of his office. He followed him as he moved through the park while Alexander followed Patrick. As they moved through the Magic Kingdom, Alexander’s friend Cindy called out to him. Distracted by his task, he told her that he would see her later.

As they continued to follow Walter, Sebastian was in one of the many maintenance offices looking up work orders. He saw that there were a number of recent work orders that had been completed by workers that had not worked at the park in quite some time. Sebastian looked up the job at Space Mountain and saw that it had been ordered by Walter. He noted the part number and found that several other jobs that involved that part had been completed. He noted one at the Tomorrowland Speedway and headed there to check it out.

Patrick and Alexander followed Walter to Space Mountain. He went through a maintenance door and Patrick followed. He saw Walter go into an office and a few minutes later came out again and recognized Patrick. Walter confronted him and Patrick tried to play it off and goes into the office that Walter just exited. In the office, he watches Walter on security cameras and observes him go into another maintenance door.

While waiting for Patrick, Alexander watches the Space Mountain as it loads and unloads its passengers. Then he sees it: A single mother and her child get on with a mother and father and their two children. When they exited, the single mother left with the other mother while the father went off with the single mother’s child as though it were the most normal thing in the world. Alexander was excited by this discovery, finally, confirmation of his observation. When Patrick returned, he excitedly told him the news. They couldn’t find the couples again but Patrick said he would check the camera footage for the ride and try to observe the couple.

Sebastian searched the Tomorrowland Speedway and did not find the part so he returned to Space Mountain and examined the part he had originally installed. He found the featureless, black box. He opened it to find a circuit board wired to a picture frame with a picture of a family. He detached the wire and received a shock that singed his fingertips. He was bewildered as the didn’t contain any noticeable power source. Sebastian quickly reassembled the box and put it back in its place, all the while worrying that he would be fired.

 

The cabal reconvened at the Waffle House and shared their day and prepared to plan their next steps.

Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth – Antagonist Phase 1.1 (No Players Allowed)

#UAHappiestPlaceonEarth

This is just a quick addition to my Antagonist Phase post from the other day.

I was rereading the Antagonist Phase part of Book 2 and started thinking of the characters in relation to the objective and their identities, passions, and obsessions. And then thinking of the setting. It occurred to me that another major theme is family.

Disney World is the destination for many families of all stripes. Along with this, one of the PCs strongly identifies with family, so much so that Family Man is one of his identities.

So the Room of the House of Renunciation will impact the family ties that people have. In what way, I’m not entirely sure. And I’m not entirely sure how this impacts the PC that experienced missing time.

One thing that it does do is give me an idea for the GMC that fired the imagineer PC. He may be my Agent of the Renunciation.

First Mediation Phase starts tonight. I have some more work to do but it is shaping up.

Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth – Antagonist Phase 1 (No Players Allowed)

Warning: This post is probably going to be a little rambling as it is a work in progress.

So our first session is coming up soon and I’ve been pretty busy this week so I haven’t had much of a chance to formalize anything for our first session this coming Friday. I’ve been letting things percolate and on the drive to work some things finally gelled. And it is really bad for something percolating to then gel. I know I wouldn’t drink that coffee. But in the case of Unknown Armies, I think it will work out.

Identity

It finally occurred to me what the campaign is going to be about: Identity. The players are trying to find out who is changing people in the park. People go on rides and change. People lose children but always leave the park happy. Sometimes they find their child, sometimes they leave without the child. But they always leave happy. And the best part? One PC went on a ride and experienced missing time.

Creepy Goofy

So I’ve been a little focused on Creepy Goofy (CG). Possibly a little too much so. He is the personal nemesis of Da’Mon (the actor in the Minnie Mouse costume; he finally has a name). I’ve been imagining things that CG will say and do to Da’Mon. Saying things in the Goofy voice. I imagine that for quite some time, we will only ever see CG in costume. Perhaps we will never see him out of costume. Perhaps it isn’t a costume. Another thing is that CG may not be the same Goofy every time and you only recognize CG by it’s speech and actions.

Is CG an Avatar? I really haven’t found a good one. My first instinct is The Fool but it really doesn’t have the right feel. I looked through the 3rd ones and I’m still not finding one. I may need to look at and adapt older material.

Chris from Orlando

One thing that really gelled for me on the drive to work. When a Cast Member forgets their name tag, they get a loaner. All the loaner name tags say the same thing: Chris from Orlando. Who is Chris from Orlando? If you put on one particular “Chris from Orlando” name tag, you’ll get to find out. Personally. Because you’ll become Chris from Orlando for the day.

Part of me wants to make this a little random. Like having the players roll to see if their characters remember their name tags and then having them choose at random to see if they get the name tag. But that risks not having this come into play at all.

The House of Renunciation

The first thing that occurred to me when hearing about rides that change people was the House of Renunciation. While everyone doesn’t change, some people do change. Currently, the rides appear to be the doorway to a Room but the door isn’t always open. Is there a pattern? A trigger? And, again, the best part: One of the PCs has already gone through a door.

Other GMCs

Beside Creepy Goofy, there are several GMCs. I have some ideas for a few of them, while others need a little more time.

  • Whispering Rats: I don’t have a clear idea for them but I did come across the Whisperers in Book 2 and need to look at that a little more closely. And since it is linked to the Channeler, it may be appropriate for that. That also makes me think of the Fiend just before that. Perhaps that is appropriate for CG.
  • Cindy: Her picture is of a cheerful Cast Member pointing the way with an oversized Mickey Mouse hand. It immediately makes me think of The Guide archetype.
  • Maris: Snow White is the girlfriend of one of the PCs. I can’t get to my note on her right now but if I recall she is also a server at Club 33. I don’t know what that means just yet.
  • Walter: the Asshat that fired one of the PCs. Is he just an unwitting supervisor who was doing what he was told to do or is he part of it.
  • The Gate Keepers: the equivalent of Disney “muscle” or something more.
  • Larry Barry Terry: the custodian has probably cleaned everything in the Magic Kingdom (Magick Kingdom? Hmmm…Magic(k) Kingdom?) twice over. Is he what happens when you go through several Rooms of the House?

Locations

I have fewer ideas for the locations at the moment.

  • Club 33: the number 3 in itself is well represented in Unknown Armies. Perhaps a 3rd three fell off the door at some point. Perhaps the club exclusively serves avatars.
  • Mickey Pylon: is it a transmitter or a receiver? Is it a lighting rod for charges?
  • The Haunted Mansion: are there answers in that book? Or in the book that originally occupied that spot (the book was originally a 14th century book of witchcraft.
  • Discovery Island: I’m not sure how this will fit in just yet.
  • Space Mountain: Another entry to a Room?

I know that I have a little more to develop. I have to see what to confront the players with for the first session. More likely, the first session will be about the players getting to know their characters better through play and the introduction of some weirdness.

Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth Session 2

Session2Map Full

#UAHappiestPlaceonEarth

We had our second session last night and completed setting and character creation. Everyone enjoyed this segment of the game and as we talked at the end of the session we discussed how several of us were a little leery of how the whole map thing would work and were surprised at how it all unfolded. One player really like how there is so much fodder for the GM to play with; while another said that it really helped develop deep characters. I was happy that Roll20 was able to accommodate the creation of the map and I honestly enjoyed cleaning it up to make it look more like what I think it would look like in the real world. At some point, I may do a small article on what I did to make it look the way that I wanted.

We went through steps three and four tonight, after catching up one player who had to leave early last session. For the most part, the characters remained the same. The one that we caught up to speed changed a little bit. He went from being another Imagineer to being a mechanic with a strong focus on being a family man.

The shock guages were interesting. In some ways, they informed the players about their characters as much as using the players used them to define what their characters were like.

Some things were clarified, like when one player had chosen a picture last session and had named it “Whispering Rats. I didn’t catch on that he was referencing the figures in the picture.

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

New locations were added as well.

  • The Haunted Mansion, where the actor asked the mechanic to get something for him.
  • Space Mountain, where some very non-standard equipment had been installed.
  • Discovery Island, a closed part of the park where a person once got a brain-eating parasite (this part is true).

More GMCs were added, many of which are adversarial.

  • Walter Lewis, the man that fired the Imagineer.
  • The Gate Keepers, two Cast Members that kept the mechanic away from the Mickey Pylon.
  • And Creepy Goofy, the actor’s identified adversary.

Here are some close-ups of the map.

Session2Map LeftSession2Map CenterSession2Map Right

The players have several pieces of homework

  • Name their character and provide me with a photo to add to the board.
  • Define the features of their identities.
  • Transfer their characters a form-fillable character sheet (the Roll20 sheet isn’t quite working for us, it is a little glitchy and doesn’t format correctly).

One of the last things we discussed was a question one of the players had for me, “What picture didn’t get up on the board that I wanted up there?”

There was an old picture of the Mickey Mouse costume that I thought was really creepy that I wanted to use in some capacity, either as some supernatural manifestation. I debated what would be creepier: encountering this and it appearing in black and white, or seeing a cartoon walking around. I think the former is creepier.

We are eager to get into the game…so much so that we are scheduled to start next week.

Unknown Armies: The Happiest Place on Earth, Session 1

#UAHappiestPlaceonEarth

Last night, we started our Unknown Armies 3rd Edition game. We started the setting/character creation session. We only got through the first two steps but everyone is having a good time and really enjoying the “game” of creating the game.

While a few of us were familiar with the older editions, and a few players had some time to get through Book 1, I was the most familiar with the new system and still had never played it. I think it was the unfamiliarity with the system and the mythology of the overarching setting which slowed us down. Also the collaborative nature was something new to us.

So here is a summary of our first game session with a picture of the resulting board.

After Step 2

Objective
“Discover the person behind the public mental manipulation in Disney.”
After looking at this and thinking about the other stuff that came up later in the session, I was thinking that we should tighten it up a bit so I put forth this as a suggestion: “Discover who is changing people at Disney.”

Characters

  • An Imagineer who was fired for asking too many questions and may have been changed by the ride.
  • An Imagineer who is beginning to suspect that something isn’t quite right.
  • A Cast Member who gets to wear the Minnie Mouse costume and may be a conduit for spirits or a medium.
  • A Disney security guard who has witnessed seen kids go missing but the parents always seem to leave happy.

Pieces of the mystery

  • The experiences (rides, etc) seem to change people.
  • There are some really non-standard pieces of equipment installed in the park.
  • People seem to go missing but no one ever reports it…not even the family members.

GMCs

  • Cindy, a Cast Member.
  • Maris, a Cast Member who used to date one of the PCs and sometimes works at Club 33.
  • Barry Larry Terry, a custodian at Disney.

Places

  • Club 33, the VIP club at Disney World.
  • The Electric Mickey Mouse Pylon.
  • The Utilidors where the rats whisper.

From the start, I already see possibilities for certain things that are classic UA. Rides that change people make me immediately think of the House of Renunciation. I especially like this because one of the PCs has already been on a ride and has experienced missing timed.

I also like the idea of people going missing yet no one ever complains about it.

And the great part is that we are only on Step 2 of game creation.