Tonight we played Archives of the Sky by Aaron A. Reed, although we were a bit rushed so used fast play mode throughout. We had to shoe-horn a dilemma together as time was running short but got a taste for how the game works through the evening—we didn’t quite master it but it is promising.
We are the bold House of Maps, dedicated to exploring and never turning away from a challenge. Our crew consists of Apogee the biologist who values free will above all, Ember the pilot who always follows her gut, Vela the linguist who always follows the trail no matter what, Raya the codebreaker who finds the truth at any cost, Orion the scout who always seeks glory, and Irida the archeologist who always questions dogma.
After our first scene, we take off to Gamma Obscura to determine what is spurring the Exodus of civilians from this seemingly peaceful system. When we arrive, we discover cascading waves of time anomalies, falling into loops and shifting willy-nilly through time. We think it best to evacuate, to flee along with the refugees, but before we can even begin we discover an ancient castle or temple filled with advanced technology and hear a telepathic cry for help. When we break the code to open the castle’s vault, a swarm of light escapes past our A-Team and invades our ship. This quantum anomaly explained that its mission was to protect the Obscuran population, but that it could no longer complete that mission once they left the planet. Just as it began to demand we let it take our ship to continue its mission, the planet beneath the ship begins to crumble, possibly due to the presence of the swarm.
Unable to decide if we should continue following the path of this mystery to its end or fly away to explore another day, our hand is forced when the quantum anomalies begin ripping the planet apart as the fundamental forces of physics threaten to unravel. Ember grabs the controls and flies us to safety, but both Orion and Vela are forever changed by the experience. Vela comes to understand that exploring is our House’s central mission and nothing should threaten that. Orion reacts in the opposite way, moving away from our House because we had selfishly sacrificed the glory of saving the planet, perhaps the universe, just to run off to the next unexplored planet.
Tonight, we played No Boundaries by Marc Hobbs in which we played the workers at suburban bookstore trapped in a down-market strip mall between a liquor store and a check cashing place. Boundaries Books was on getting killed on Wall Street but management kept insisting that it would make the changes necessary to be successful, so introduced a number of innovations and promotions to improve sales throughout the year, changes our crew struggled to implement or live with.
When corporate mandated that we begin selling cats alongside books, since book-lovers are also cat-lovers, Santi the 16-year-old shelver spent a lot of time pulling cats off of shelves for customers, despite his fear of heights. And the cats greatly disrupted craft time for Clive, the serious literateur who ran the children’s events at the store, when one child cut a cat’s tail off. And Sigmund Prawn, the aspiring novelist specializing in Sci-Fi Romances, had to deal with an angry customer trying to get refund on a cat they hadn’t even bought at the store.
Then corporate decided to make Riley the barista into the assistant store manager to improve morale and clean up the store’s act, which created all sorts of tension between her and Ray the shipping clerk ten years her senior and longer tenured since he now had to take orders and guff from her on a daily basis.
It all fell apart when corporate rebranded the store around an EDM theme, with loud music blaring throughout the day and DJ names applied to all the workers. Mindy (now DJ Stacks) discovered that her ex-husband, who worked at the liquor store next door and who she had been spying on throughout the year, had begun to sell books because no one could find the peace to read in the new store. By Thanksgiving the store was doomed, and by New Years we were all out of a job.
Tonight, we played Quiet Year by Avery Alder in a world after the Four Horsemen of the Biblical apocalypse has destroyed much of the world, focused on a community surviving in a small exurban hospital. After salvaging gasoline from abandoned cars strewn along the highway and putting out the fires in the forests, we settled down to finding meaning in our pitiful existence, building shrines to the mysterious Donut manufactory, communicating with the talking fish, and worshiping at the utensil vortex. We had to come together to wage war with the utensil-armed marauders who were carting off our foods and our people, a war we won thanks to the opiate-haze that Dr. Jakinov induced in them before the battle. Along the way, we managed to repair some homes, fix the roof and explore the collapsed tunnel, even as we saw visions of the Horsemen returned and were visited by a manhorse and the righteous Parish. The Parish wanted us to return to the old God in repentance, while others wanted us to turn to the vortex for guidance. The religious infighting between us left us ill-prepared when the Frost Shepherds at least returned with the first snows of winter.
Tonight we played The Final Voyage of The Selene by James Mullen.
Chief Engineer Pryce and Artiste Bahk had served alongside each other on the Selene for decades, sharing a love of the rejuvenating illicit substance known colloquially as “snooze juice”. When some new passengers came aboard at the latest stop, Bahk hoped they’d become fans of his band, the Agents of the Son. But they all had their own agendas. Disgraced Lieutenant Kazarian, of the military organization Agents of the Sun, hoped to find meaning in private security. Professor Carris was continuing her research into void technology, seeking the elusive Boomerang Effect. And Courier Lane Kerenski just wanted to safely transport some sensitive information, while meeting some new people and learning about humanity.
After a tip from Bahk led Kazarian to investigate, it turned out that Kerenski’s information implicated the Agents of the Sun’s leadership in war crimes, related to biological weapons that they’d pressured Professor Carris into producing. In response to this news, Kerenski attempted to punish the professor for her crimes, while Kazarian rebelled against her former life by turning to snooze juice dealing. Pryce, in an attempt to stop the authorities from confiscating his stash and firing him, turned off the ship’s navigation systems. During this chaos, it became clear that several squirrel victims of Carris’s experiments had come back via the Boomerang Effect, to take revenge on humanity for the squirrel plague. Just before the ship was destroyed, Pryce revealed his secret squirrel identity, choosing Kazarian to reign with him as his squirrel queen.
In the end, Professor Carris and Artiste Bahk escaped through a portal, to confront Bahk’s mother, who had used Bahk’s band as a front for her unsavory activities. Pryce, Kazarian, and Kerenski caught a life pod to Earth, where the squirrel people took over and instituted a reign of terror and slam poetry.