Tonight we played Follow by Ben Robbins and crafted a story about a team of researchers in the 1920s at a private institute in the suburbs trying to continue the research of Nikola Tesla into wireless electricity. We started by failing to convince our backers that our invention would work. Later, we also failed at avoiding the Edison smear campaign despite having created a riot at a Tesla event and accidentally killed a volunteer from the audience while demonstrating the power our army of electric squirrels can produce. Finally, our renowned leader decided the best way to deal with the electrocution side effects of our invention was to sell it as a weapon to the War Department, who jumped at the chance to destroy an enemy at a distance. Unfortunately, this did nothing to return power to the people, so our quest failed abysmally.
Tonight, courtesy of Lasers & Feelings by John Harper, we form the intrepid crew of the Raptor, sent to Epsilon 5 to investigate an incursion by Cyber Zombies. Before we set off, Mayre, our sexy engineer intent on meeting equally sexy aliens, has to temporarily repair the thingamajig using bobby pins until we could get to a Market World to purchase a new one. On Epsilon 5, Dr. Worm, PhD, a bemused alien explorer hoping to see something truly new, encounters a local farmer who claims they’d held off the Zombies by building a makeshift wall, but learn that the Zombies are working down inside the mines. Ship’s doctor Olivia Price, showing off, captures a Zombie, names it Aaaaagatha Aaaanderson, cuts it open, and then works together with Mayre to rewire Agatha’s brain. Mayre’s succeeds so wildly that not only is Agatha’s desire for brains gone but she was also no longer contagious and in love with the engineer.
Dr. Worm and Doc Price interrogate the awakened Agatha and discover her obsession with Mayre and continued hunger for cybernetics, like those Mayre has otherwise kept secret. Agatha leads dangerous soldier Major Talon Rune and Miku the android pilot who wants to replace incapacitated Captain Darcy, deep into the mine tunnels to where the Zombies are working. When they turn to attack, Talon collapses the tunnel on the Zombies without cutting the team off from the deeper tunnels or the surface.
In a flashback, the team visits the Market on Epsilon 5 in search of a new thingamajig. Instead, the meet the Bobby Brothers who are profiteering in their sale of bobby pins. The threats and counter-threats between the two sides eventually lead to promises for leniency and a search for their missing child, a picture of whom shows a much younger Agatha, in exchange for all the bobby pins Mayre may need to keep the Raptor flying.
Back in the tunnels, they find a strange creature as reality begins to warp and change as they discover a quantum anomaly at the center of the Zombie horde. Talon drops a grenade on the creature and the crew all find themselves together on the bridge of the Raptor with Captain Darcy awakened, but Dr. Worm quickly realizes that this is the creature taking the Captain’s form. Darcy admits that his psychic infection has allowed him to create the Zombies, which he wanted to unleash on Epsilon 5 as revenge for having his criminal empire there taken from him. The crew realizes they must destroy Darcy’s body, and when they do, the tunnel collapses, the quantum anomaly collapses, and the Zombies are restored to their former selves. In the epilogue, however, the Bobby Family swear vengeance on the crew of the Raptor.
Tonight we played The Final Voyage of The Selene by James Mullen.
It seems that most of the Selene’s crew came to their posts through shame rather than accomplishment. Chief Engineer Camryn Price was press-ganged from a seedy bar on Earth, where he had been indulging in the recreational drug X3. Lieutenant Eve Kazarian lost most of her squad when they were ambushed, and as punishment she was demoted to ship security. Purser Ehrlick hastily got himself assigned to the Selene after a night of booze and infidelity to his wife. And Artiste Bahk left a failing dance career to become part of the ship’s nightly entertainment. The crew has been recently joined by Inspector Dan Ital, fleeing drug-running gerbils on a moderately war-torn planet, and Ambassador Phoebe Masiri, taking the Selene to her next negotiation after a government shutdown cancelled her usual transportation.
When Chief Pryce discovers that the Selene’s coils are failing, he tries to requisition more from Purser Ehrlick, but finds that the bureaucratic process of ordering new parts could take months. Frustrated, he turns to Inspector Ital, who promises he can find the coils in exchange for a favor later. Meanwhile, Ambassador Masiri tries to convince Artiste Bahk to help her solve the diplomatic situation in the Milky Way, but Bahk is horrified at the thought of working pro bono.
Ital, through a combination of favors and blackmail, convinces Ehrlick to give him the legendary Form 2B, which can bump any request to the top of the bureaucratic queue. Ehrlick and Masari, after connecting over their love of order and procedure, spend a steamy night together. Bahk asks Ital to help her find the strange long-tailed creature who has been following her, and he agrees in exchange for her performance at an upcoming party. She warns him that this creature is equally fond of crunchy food and reactor fuel.
Chief Pryce tells Lieutenant Kazarian that he’s concerned about Ital’s shadowy activities on the ship. Kazarian, afraid of disgracing herself again by allowing crimes to happen on board, agrees to a sting operation where Pryce will sell his personal stash of X3 to Ital, to prove that Ital is a drug trader. That night, Kazarian has a vision of the Selene going up in flames after Pryce does something in the engine room. She confides in Masiri, who has no advice for what to do about this vision, but agrees to help her track down the military bureaucrat who betrayed her squad.
The planned drug deal starts, but Ital isn’t playing along — he refuses to accept the stash of drugs. Kazarian, tired of waiting, rushes in and forcibly plants the drugs on Ital before having him hauled away to the brig. Ital attempts to blackmail her with a video of the failed entrapment, but Pryce shuts off the ship’s communication system to keep the video from getting out.
Purser Ehrlick seeks Pryce out in the engineering room to deliver the coil request form, and recruits him to the Church of Stapledom through the rite of stapling the form’s two pages. When Ehrlick visits Ital in the brig, he learns that Ital is a high-level Stapledom official who gives him a gold and platinum stapler he happens to have on him. Masiri wants to continue her romantic entanglement with Ehrlick, but he refuses and shuts her out of his office, a decision which Masiri protests with the help of he crew. The protest does not succeed at getting Ehrlick back into her life, but she does find out from Bahk that they may be long-lost sisters.
Ital has somehow heard about Kazarian’s vision, and convinces her to go and confront Pryce about his drug habit and mental stability. Pryce confides in his friend that he’s planning to resign his commission when the Selene reaches Earth, because he’s pregnant and wants to raise the baby in safety on the planet. Unfortunately, during this conversation, Ital has been eating some crunchy food outside Engineering, which attracts the strange creature Bahk warned him about. The creature bites through the reactor fuel line just as the coils finally fail, exploding the ship somewhere near Jupiter.
Pryce is tragically killed when the reactor explodes. Ital and Kazarian jump into an escape pod, but the creature, who is somehow bonded to Ital, infects Kazarian and makes her its new host. Masiri and Bahk are thrown into space, but thanks to their family’s ability to subsist on little oxygen, they survive long enough to be rescued. Ehrlick, sadly, dies halfway through filling out a pre-authorization form to requisition some oxygen.
Tonight we played Companions’ Tale by Laura Simpson for the third time. The game seems designed to produce a rich world with a built-in legend, history, and culture more than a story or characters. If so, it does a great job of it. Our world was centered around a volcano, a volcanic island surrounded by a forest haunted by the Adeeba, which we appease through annual rites and ward off through songs of mockery. People who brave the Adeeba and the forests to reach the mouth of the fire mountain are blessed with magic, and children are sometimes lost and returned as changelings.
Our history includes the stories of the seeker who learned the names of all the stars and the gift of foresight, which had lead to a golden era of prosperity. And the young daughter of a chief who didn’t spend the traditional night alone in the forest before marrying and remained childish all her life with tragic consequences. And in the fable of Monkey and Snake who frolicked together in the forests, they eventually stray too close to the mountain, so Monkey must sacrifice himself to save his friend. But the events that dominate our story and the life of the Hero, is the arrival of the Big-hatted interlopers in their tall ships who carry and covet the metal that resists the mountain’s fire, and the war between our people and theirs for control of the island and the metallic ore.
We six companions knew the Hero from childhood, when they promised to protect their friend, and when they barely escaped before a village was destroyed in an eruption. We confronted the Hero on the edges of the forest and between the villages. We were saved and rescued by the Hero when we had lost everything, restored to ourselves and solicited for guidance. We fought with the Hero in the war with the big-hats and witnessed the final moments before they walked away when the Hero ended the war by bringing forth a special changeling child from the wood.
This week’s game of Fiasco by Jason Morningstar followed a mighty party of dragon-slayers, deprived of their hard-won dragon’s gold by the dastardly, orphan-loving mayor. The cast of characters included Belethor, a conniving bard, Blander, a gullible simulacrum of Andrelis the cowardly and extremely cloneable wizard, Tessa, a warlock with a gift for handmade pottery, and Jez, a rogue with a gift for handmade violence. With the reluctant help of a peaceful talking sword, the four tried very hard to beat, trick, and enchant their winnings back from the mayor and the villagers, occasionally making pottery-related detours to the gnome mines. However, when curiosity and long-searing resentment led them to the fetish closet of Andrelis’s deceased mentor Flixnor, hearts changed and they saw that honest hard work was the right way to earn back their gold.
Unfortunately, our team of villains had a surprisingly skewed vision of qualities such as “honest” and “hard.” Their business venture did not end well for anyone, except Andrelis’s many flexible clones.
We actually had two sessions of Follow by Ben Robbins going tonight, each “Putting on a Show” that reunites the stars of an old TV program. At the second table, our reunion was for a show from 25 years ago about high schoolers in space, Star School Holiday Special. Our cast consisted of Steve Dixon, the arrogant star who’d had a tumultuous but real career post-show; Arthur Collins, the youngest of the bunch who’d been humiliated by Steve during shooting into complete seclusion after the show; River Winding, the show’s conniver and troublemaker turned New Age hippie; and “Peter” Rabbit, who had spent many of the intervening years in and out of rehab and now was a 12-step spokesperson. The difficulties in putting together this reunion was our mutually acrimonious departure from the original show and interference from network executives.
First, we tried to cut 20 minutes from the show’s runtime to get it into the hour-long slot we’d been given. When Steve kept insisting that his musical number couldn’t be cut, his contract made it difficult to force his hand. Peter and Arthur hatched a plan with the old showrunner, Buddy Strom, for the footage of Steve to be sped up to super speed to meet the runtime requirements and (secretly) to embarrass him. However, when the production assistant Alex was caught speeding up the footage, Steve had her fired and we failed to shorten the runtime.
Next, we tried to promote the show at the Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast, but Steve was refusing to appear with the rest of the cast and had too contentious a history to go before critics alone. But River convinced Steve that coming down to the level of the float with the others as he sings his song would help the show and, hence, Steve’s career. This spurred debate among the group about whether they ought to forgive Steve his (many) past transgressions. In the end, Steve joined them on the show circuit, even appearing on Ellen’s show despite their past bad blood.
Finally, they must perform the show, which was complicated by the fact that the pre-recorded footage was lost, requiring them to perform it live. The gang decides to forgive Steve for the past if he’ll agree to help them in the present by joining him as equals for the space walk dance number in the shows finale, and the show goes off successfully. Will the crew get greenlit for a new season? Stranger things have happened.
It had been over 17 years since the Teen Sitcom ‘Kids on Bikes’ was cancelled, when a reunion show was put togeteher by the cast to finally produce and air the season 6 finale on Netflix.
This effort was spearheaded by Chloe Watson, a visionary actor, now turned producer, who wanted to challenge the audience and make them think, Max Doug, a washed up actor who wanted to show the world he still had it, and Dennis Richardson, the one actor who had remained succesful after the show and was seeking even more fame.
Putting together this final episode was a daunting task as the cast members had left the original production on bad terms and their relationship had hit further lows afterwards. Dennis ended up marrying Bronson, Chloe’s ex-husband and on-scene flame during the original show. Dennis and Max were also at odds as Dennis had ‘stolen’ some of the spotlight from Max, and Max never recovered.
Another complication the team faced, was that the script was left as-is since the show was cancelled. Which meant that it was written to be played by teenage actors, not grown adults.
The first step to get the production going was to produce a catchy musical number. This was very important as if done right, it could bring much needed funds to the project as it was a product placement by Coca-Cola for its new product, Cocaccino, ‘half the size, twice the sugar’. Maya, the contact from Coca Cola, wanted a happy song that showcased how this new product made people happy. Unfortunately this clashed with Chloe’s vision and made it very jarring considering the show started on a somber note with the death of one of the teachers. The musical number did get created, but not to the liking of Coca Cola, who pulled out of the show after seeing it.
The team then wanted to build up some excitement in the media by providing a sneak preview to critics. Unfortunately, with the funds from Coca Cola no longer available, the cast had to practice in questionable locations, such as Denis and Branson’s house. Using Dennis’ contacts, they managed to put together a gala in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria though. While the event was a mess, especially because Max could not get into the building as he was persona non-grata due to his antics some years back, the show ended up getting lots of publicity due to viral videos of the gala taking over the internet as it was seen as very ironic how these 30 year olds were trying to breath life into a teen sitcom.
Finally, the cast got around producing the episode. The success of the sneak preview brought them much needed funds. Enough to get some studio space… but only enough to shoot the episode in one weekend. Here, the old script caused issues. One scene in particular turned very problematic as Chloe was supposed to catch Tiny Teddy who was falling from a high chair. Originally, Tiny Teddy was a baby on the show, but he was now a 17 year old football player.
The episode was produced and put on Netflix. Unfortunately, it was a huge failure that had no followers. Word has it it became a cult classic among stoners, but it never got enough views on the platform.
Dennis and Max did not make up. Max continued being a has-been with emotional problems. The one that had some success afterwards was Chloe, who received an award for her documentary “Adults on Bikes” that showcased the struggles the team faced producing the season finale.