Follow Your Dreams Heist

In a near future in which companies vie even more fiercely for control of our world than they do today, using Follow by Ben Robbins, we form DreamWorks, Inc. in a heist to steal the plot of next year’s Disney blockbuster, so we can throw together our own hackneyed clone in time to beat them to market. Of course the secret is well-guarded and Disney is notoriously vindictive, but we plan to break into their CEO’s dreams, steal the plot, and get away anyway.

Follow rpg logo over alpine mountain peaks

Our primary crew consists of Billy the ambitious producer and planner who orchestrates our team; Neev the director who wants to go straight and start making small, independent character-driven films; his pal Vladimir the hardened Ukrainian hit-man brought in for muscle; Rogin an unlucky criminal who just wants to get through one job without screwing up; and our dream tech specialists: Geti a natural dream-diver who wants to make a name for themselves, and Mina the thrill-seeking psychic who’s determined to bring Disney down for past and current crimes. Our company also has actors, accountants, gofers, lawyers, fixers, spies, and other assorted criminals.

Our story begins when Neev and Billy meet up with Borsley, our inside man who works for the Disney CEO. He gives us important insight into the boss man’s habits and activities that we can use against him. Geti shows off their dream rig to Rogin and the intern Pip, and imparts important information about the right way to wire up a fear capacitor. Mina joins Billy at the airport in welcoming Vladimir to Los Angeles, and the Ukrainian takes everything they say to indicate the need for boom boom boom on the job. Rogin goes to his old mentor Leon seeking advice on how not to screw up this time and plans to write everything down on his hand with a sharpie. Billy takes Rogin to meet Borsley again so Rogin can better get into his role as a tech investor when he meets the CEO and primes his mind to think about the movie. The night before the job, Vladimir takes half the crew out to a Ukrainian club for vodka and to make sure all the right people are armed.

In the second act, Geti and Mina dive into the CEO’s mind and extract the data, but Mina pushes too hard in search of evidence to destroy Disney and a small army of men in SWAT gear arrive at the hotel. Vlad goes to make a distraction while Billy watching overhead calls for everyone to follow their exit protocols pronto. But Mina is still freelancing and stops off at a safe in the suite with Pip and Leon to get the documents she needs. Pip foolishly livestreams the safe cracking and snaps a selfie of them wrapped in purloined jewels. Rogin sits quietly at the bar with our lawyer/fixer Lana who assures him that our route out is to sit out the raid and wait for it to get quiet. Meanwhile, Billy meets Geti on the roof with a waiting chopper and sends Vlad back inside to take care of the wild cards Mina, Pip, and Leon when he sees the streaming safecracking distraction. When Vladimir goes downstairs with Neev, he immediately shoots at the group, but Pip dives in front of the bullet to save Mina. When he gets closer Mina reveals that they are cousins and Vlad takes Neev aside so they can kill Leon without Mina noticing. Neev leads the group into a room and calls room service and the front desk in order to get uniforms to disguise everyone in, but when they arrive, he shoots them before they can get their clothes off, so they’re ruined as disguise material.

In the Epilogue, we see Rogin sitting in the bar as the police come in and arrest him with Lana watching. We also see Mina, Neev, and Vladimir jump out the window, land in a diving pool, and scuttle away to a hideout. At the police station, Rogin is interrogated and refuses to tell the police what they want to know, thereby revealing everything the police need to know in the process. So, everyone is scooped up and brought in. Neev is jailed for the murder of the room service personnel and is working on a screenplay from his cell. Geti takes a plea deal in exchange for helping the police obtain dream confessions from perpetrators. Mina goes to prison for her role in the heist, while Billy manages to plea down his charges and goes free to become a YouTube filmmaker. Will he produce Neev’s screenplay? Vlad is caught and eventually plots to break himself, Neev, and Mina out of prison. He escapes with them to Kazakstan with the authorities hot on their tail. He says goodbye to the pair and sends them away. He gleefully cackles as he turns toward the approaching cops and pulls the pin on two grenades. We fade to black after the exploding fireball fills the screen.

Our Last Best Hope is Technobabble

Tonight, we played Our Last Best Hope by Mark Diaz Truman of Magpie Games, a game about saving the world. We start by identifying the crisis that threatens the world and brought us together to save it. It all started with the ads everywhere, ads for “perfecting” you, made by Replicators Inc. “You. Perfected.” But in reality, Replicators are extracting your consciousness and replacing it with hive mind drones that never misbehave. In order to save humanity, we have to infiltrate Replicator’s headquarters and restore people’s consciousnesses to them. We are Marcus Victor, a robot engineer and telenovela model; Lt. Buzz, a soldier and exercise fanatic; Prof. Jules Binion, a string theory scientist and heartbreaker; and Dr. Grace Pollack, networking engineer and bit torrent enthusiast. Our assets: schematics of the drone brains, EMP grenades, hover bikes, and a handheld hacking device. Our mission is complicated when we learn that the system holding the consciousnesses is rigged to self-destruct if compromised.

Our Last Best Hope cover: two heads in silhouette leaning against other. The heads are filled with stellar imagery.
Image courtesy of Magpie Games.

Victor and Grace go to the university library to research techniques that will allow us to bypass the rigged security measures, but are accosted by a technologically mutated cat that they must defeat by hacking into and locking the cat’s technological systems. Back at our garage, Buzz and Jules prepare to infiltrate Replicator HQ by trading insults and loading the hover bikes with our equipment but are interrupted by killer robot soldiers. Replicators are on to us, but Buzz grenades the bulk of them and crushes the stragglers between his muscular thighs. Suck it Robots! Grace and Jules begin working out the details of our plan to bypass the Replicator self-destruct mechanisms by building a multidimensional manifold out of crystalline xenon folded into an impossible shape and rigged to a multivalent synergistic network through which the consciousnesses can be safely removed from the system without triggering the trap. Replicator spotter probes catch sight of their plans and must be disabled before they return to their HQ, which the two do employing science and superior hacking skillz.

Buzz and Victor try to seduce a Better Business Bureau employee in order to get the dirt on our corporate target but are interrupted when Victor’s grandmother, now replaced by a hive mind drone, attempts to kill them with machine guns. Buzz does not hesitate to use grenades in these small quarters. The bureaucrat is not seduced. Afterward they follow directions to 123 Fake Street to find a barren lot, but manage to activate the secret entranceway into Replicator’s underground headquarters below the lot. The feral techno-dogs that roam the lot are no match for Victor’s robotics expertise. Back at the lab, Victor and Buzz begin telling the team about their find, when Jules pushes Victor to reveal how he’d worked security for Replicators Inc in the past, for the good of the mission. When Victor reveals that he knows about Buzz’s use of steroids, Buzz dramatically leaves to fight a duel to the death with an MMA fighting master, a fight that ends as advertised with the master still alive. After Buzz leaves for his fight, the lab catches fire but Victor and Jules quickly put it out using the backwash from the hover bike engines.

The team returns to Replicator HQ with a hover bike laden with their elaborate equipment and impossible science device and trip a booby trap in the hallway leading to the freight elevator. The walls begin closing in, but once again, their handheld hacking device and superior skillz overcome the threat. When they meet a maintenance worker on the service elevator, they have a lot of explaining to do and seem to be making progress when the overloaded elevator overheats and sets off a toxic gas release from the fire suppression systems. They cut open the ceiling and climb aboard the hover bike as Victor sends his pet mouse to release the elevator brakes. The elevator crashes to the basement floor, but the crew glide down slowly on the back of their hover bike.

Now comes the end game. The elevator crash has sent electrical cables arcing across our path, so Victor sacrifices himself by grabbing the lines to allow us to pass with our equipment intact. As we cut into the consciousness vault, a technovirus infects our technology and turns it against us. Jules is personally infected by the virus and gets covered in circuitry as he hacks it so that it consumes itself rather than spreading. That leaves Grace alone to complete our mission and save the world. She implements the plan and it comes off! The consciousnesses are released through the multivalent synergistic networks to return to their original bodies and eject the hive mind invaders. But our crystalline xenon manifold turns in on itself, creating a spacetime anomaly that Grace cannot escape and she is lost. The world is safe but our team is no more.

Shot Into the Void

We return to Fiasco by Jason Morningstar this week, this time stepping Into the Void playset by the GremlinLegions. Tonight our cast includes Becca, hereditary CEO of the Vesta Clan Mining Corporation, and her arch-rival King Oswald Octavius VIII, the elected monarch of the “These Eight Arms of Mine” mining operation, who are contesting control of a young black hole that has recently taken up residence near their disputed asteroid mining fields. A close ally of Oswald are the Cephalows, who keep the sacred texts of Mars, in particular their Martian seer Olo of the Pi tribe and her puppet Octopus, Gornthrob the Destroyer, from whom she receives her visions. Olo is married to Commander Adina Peet of the Martian Interplanetary Navy and chief military officer of the Olympus Mons Space Elevator Fleet. Adina secretly desires Gornthrob and hopes to steal its heart away from the Martian. Adina’s Executive Officer is Robin Spears, who has known little but the regimental life of military school and the Martian navy, but she has forgotten she once was of the royal house of Ganymede before she and her twin sister Judith were kidnapped and raised as commoners by republican rebels determined to end their family’s rule. Judith, meanwhile, was raised on the opposite end of Mars, recently graduated from an Assassin’s apprenticeship, and has now been hired by Oswald to eliminate Becca, a job to earn enough to purchase a clone of herself on which to satisfy her lusts.

Into the Void cover showing an unknown planet, a satellite in orbit, and a body falling through space.
Image courtesy of the GremlinLegions.

Our story begins with Oswald bringing Judith to a meeting with Becca aboard a platform near the young black hole being mediated by Commander Adina Peet. Becca argues that the black hole is distorting the asteroid distribution across the line of demarcation, while Oswald insists that the young black hole prefers his claim, but the Commander cites the Orion treaty, which limits the legal weight of black holes who haven’t demonstrated clear evidence of sapience. The meeting concludes when Judith is arrested after failing to stab Becca. In the station’s brig, Robin and Judith discover their uncanny similarity and likely sisterhood, and Judith reveals she has a hereditary disease that will kill her before she turns 30. Back at their home, Adina shows great solicitousness towards Gornthrob despite the bleakness of the visions that it gives Olo, who continues to insist that her work is more important than such mundane concerns like employment and rent. After the failure of mediation, Becca determines to take more aggressive action and loads her ship with sanctioned laser weapons in order to rearrange the asteroid field more to her liking, but her ship is impounded and she and her crew detained by the Commander when they dock at the Olympus Mons station. Meanwhile, Olo and Oswald meet to discuss finding the fabled last copy of the holy book, Paradise Lost, which they believe to be on an asteroid drawn here by the young black hole. Oswald gives Olo a live octopus named Charles to pair with Gornthrob in seeking the books exact location.

After the tilt, Becca easily hires away Judith from “These Eight Arms of Mine” with the bribe money refused by the Commander, and they orchestrate a jail break. During the escape, Judith searches the naval archives to discover the truth about herself and Robin, who catches up to her in the archives. After trying to convert Robin to her cause of retaking Ganymede, Judith slips away to the clone emporium while Robin argues the minutiae of regulations with Commander Adina. Afterward, Adina sneaks in during Olo’s ceremonial vision trance to find the lost book, and romances Gornthrob away from her with Charles serving as a distraction. After much soul-searching, Robin commandeers Becca’s ship and intercepts and joins Judith on her Quixotic quest to Ganymede. Becca, hidden away on the ship, agrees that the Vesta clan will join their coup once the twins plus clone convince Becca of the profit to be made from exploiting a newly monarchical Ganymede. Olo learns that only Paradise Lost can save them from the apocalypse in her visions and finds the Dear John letter left her by Gornthrob. Oswald appears with news that the he believes Gornthrob to be the Great Deceiver told of in stories about the book and whisks them all off to Ganymede. When they intercept the Vesta fleet preparing to invade the planet, Oswald threatens to destroy the planet in order to reclaim Paradise Lost from its core, but Judith explains that the royal family’s disease also gives them the ability to slip through the crust of Ganymede straight to the core, and Robin agrees to be shot out of a particle cannon at the planet to retrieve the treasure. A stupid plan, executed to perfection.

In the epilogue, we see Robin Spears shoot straight through the crust of Ganymede, pass the core, and fly out the other side, never to be seen again, lost in the vast emptiness beyond. Betraying the plan, Oswald Octavius VIII fires his missiles in Robin’s wake and the shockwave destroys his ship and leaves him stranded drifting in space until the Martian Interplanetary Navy picks up and incarcerates him for attempted genocide. The turmoil instigates war between Earth and Mars, which leads to the destruction of the Olympus Mons Space Elevator and Station, and Gornthrob leads the disgraced Commander Adina to the young black hole and sacrifices her to the underdeveloped anomaly. Gornthrob then returns to Olo, Martian of the Pi tribe, and leads her off to another system for a repeat performance. During the explosion, Becca, CEO of the Vesta Clan Mining Corporation, cloaks and shields her ship and slips away unscathed. In the aftermath, she takes over mining territory formerly held by “These Eight Arms of Mine” and, unknowingly, carries the final copy of Paradise Lost away in the asteroid slurry in one of her ships. Judith, oh but Judith, escaping with the Vesta fleet, lives on and learns that the disease she thought certain to kill her may not, only to be murdered by her clone when she decides there can only be one true Judith.

Regina’s Fiancé’s Wedding Fiasco

We broke out Fiasco by Jason Morningstar tonight and stepped into the wondrous world of Regina’s Wedding to see how, or if, the bride finally takes her vows. Our cast includes Stephanie, an anarchist 90s riot grrrl turned petty criminal who dumped her then-boyfriend Ted when she felt he wasn’t committed enough to the cause but is now working with Brian Dobbs, a tech bro with massive hacking skillz. Brian is helping her steal the files for printing hundreds from the Philly mint while secretly trying to win back his high school sweetheart, Regina. Regina dreams of becoming a tap-dancing star and hopes her Daddy or Daddy’s money can get her onto Margaret Wakefield’s variety program to showcase her talent. In the meantime, she is about to marry George-Alan not knowing that he dresses in drag to host the very show she admires so much. Margaret Wakefield’s biggest fan is George-Alan’s friend, Grills, whose dedicated his life and built a quasi-religious following around Margaret Wakefield and her show. He also harbors a very intense resentment of the biological father he didn’t until recently know, the officiant and Catholic priest, Father Ted. Ted once played in Stephanie’s punk band but when God punished him for cheating on her by sending her away, he decided he had to go straight and joined the priesthood to bring others back into the fold.

Back cover of Fiasco stating "Fiasco, a game of powerful ambition and poor impulse control."
Image courtesy of Bully Pulpit Games.

Our story starts with Father Ted meeting with George-Alan and Regina to discuss the ladies shoes that she has found in his closet. Father Ted is convinced by the size of the shoes that George-Alan has purchased them for when Regina becomes pregnant and her feet swell, a certain sign of his immense love for her. Earlier in the week, Regina and George-Alan meet Brian and Stephanie at the Four Seasons and Regina reveals her great love of horses but can’t fit the other couple into the wedding plans. On the morning of the wedding, Grills meets Regina in the hotel coffee shop and they discuss their mutual love of Margaret Wakefield. He points out how few friends she seems to have besides her beloved horses. Afterward, Grills walks into the business center where he interrupts Stephanie and Brian using the hotel computer to complete their virtual heist. To keep him occupied and save the caper, Stephanie accompanies Grills to his room to fix the cable, but they run into Father Ted in the elevator. He is amazed to see Stephanie after so many years but even more discombobulated by Grills’ animosity. She plays the two off each other then fixes the cable, which just needed to be plugged back into the wall. Father Ted recalls how earlier he had discovered the happy couple trying to drink the sacramental wine to retrieve George-Alan’s cufflinks. Their ignorance of basic Christian and Catholic tenets so appalled the circumspect priest that he was hardly prepared for the emotional scene in Grills’ room.

After the turn introduces “secrets are revealed” and the “truth will out”, Regina runs into Brian after he’s finished in the business center and the two decide to go horseback riding together that morning. Afterward, Grills convinces Brian that he shouldn’t miss the opportunity during the ceremony to speak his piece and declare his undying love for Regina, which has persisted since they had pledged to stay virgins together until marriage back in 10th grade. Before the ceremony, George-Alan goes to confess to Father Ted that the enormous shoes they’d found earlier weren’t for Regina’s pregnancy but were his own, from when he performs as Margaret Wakefield. Ted asks for a number of prayers and extracts a promise from George-Alan to tell Regina the truth as his acts of contrition. During the ceremony, Father Ted has lost his grip on sobriety, having started drinking after his morning encounter with Grills and Stephanie. First Brian interrupts to declare his love for Regina, but before anyone can react, Father Ted confesses his to being Grills’ father, highlighting his compound failure as a father, an anarchist, and as a man of the cloth. Then George-Alan finally reveals to Regina his dual-life as Margaret Wakefield, and the ceremony is never completed, despite Brian’s call for dual weddings between himself and Regina, and Grills and Margaret. After the ceremony, the police arrive with lots of information from the hotel’s computer and security systems, and although Stephanie hides the thumbdrive with the stolen goods inside the wedding cake before sneaking away, Brian is arrested and Regina gives the police a piece of cake to take with them, the very piece with the hidden evidence.

In the Epilogue, we learn each of their fates. Grills is eventually arrested for fraud around the cult that he forms to honor Margaret Wakefield. Given how impossible it is to be defrocked in the Catholic Church, Father Ted remains a priest but becomes the poster boy for the unit at his seminary on “What not to do when tending your flock.” Although Stephanie initially gets away, she is eventually arrested when visiting Brian’s trial and joins him in prison. Brian’s term ends up much longer than hers when it’s proven he’s guilty of numerous other, unrelated cyber-crimes. Regina refuses to answer his calls from prison, but having rejected him after the wedding fell apart, she decides that she’ll have to go crawling back to George-Alan to advance her dreams of tap-dancing. Margaret Wakefield has such a large following the she can begin again with a whole new life and a whole new show.

With Great Power Plant Disasters

With Great Power (Master Edition by Michael S. Miller) comes great embarrassment, especially when the game involves our characters: Clarity, the first daughter of the famed Montague Clan, whose sole power is to read the surface thoughts of those nearby; Ice Age, climate justice crusader who sometimes creates bigger glaciers than she intends; Voltage, fugitive from an experimental government lab that filled her with massive electrical currents she can release at will but never entirely turn off; and the Threads of Fate, a psychic whose deal with the Fates gives him premonitions of someone’s imminent death through the medium of his costume tights but requires he obey their requests. By the end of our session, we have united against Quicksand, a resurrected pharaoh from Ancient Egypt who controls sand but had lost his queen before his own long-ago demise.

With Great Power book cover showing a female hero choosing between saving her friend threatened by a giant glowing electrode and a building about to be hit by a missile.
With Great Power cover via Incarnadine Press.

First, however, we are four isolated people living in Arizona when the Bank of West Sphinx is taken hostage by a team of robbers. Clarity joins the police arrayed outside and tries to read the minds of the robbers to aid in resolving the crisis, but she becomes overwhelmed by the loudness of the crowds in her mind and collapses. Voltage is out walking the dogs from the shelter where she works when she encounters the robbery, but manages to surreptitiously short out the engine of the getaway van without anyone noticing. Inside the bank, the Threads of Fate is depositing a check when the bank robbers appear, but he manages to save the life of one bank patron when his costume signals they are facing death. Then Ice Age appears and tries to freeze the safe into a solid block of ice, but manages instead to undermine the building’s foundation and causes it to collapse. Together, Clarity and Voltage briefly team up to stop the minions of Quicksand from recovering a relic that he had sent them into the bank to retrieve, and Threads leads the hostages out of the bank through the chaos of its collapse.

In a flashback to the day before the bank heist, Ice Age and her arborist boyfriend, Kyle, discuss the chances she takes in both her advocacy and hero work. He wants her to play it safe and maybe try traditional methods to create change—letter writing campaigns and organized protests. She prefers big, bold ice attacks, but agrees to go on an eco-tourism vacation to the Arctic with him. In another flashback, we see Clarity as a young girl being chastised by her famous superhero mother to try harder and always put on a happy face to give the world hope. After the bank heist, Voltage is encouraged by her brother, Aaron, to get out there as a hero, work with the Montagues through Clarity, and get help for them in their quest to save their sister, but Voltage worries about exposing herself with those military scientists still out there looking for her. Meanwhile, the Threads of Fate encounters one of Quicksand’s minions at the museum reading hieroglyphics off the displays and predicting doom for West Sphinx. At the city library, Clarity also learns of the Quicksand’s plans to destroy the city by attacking the local renewable energy power plant by reading the mind of another minion studying the maps and plans of the area.

Having found Voltage’s dogs after the bank heist, Threads had arranged to return them to her at an ice rink where the two of them run into Ice Age showing off her double axel. The three of them are talking when Clarity arrives already knowing each of their secret identities to enlist their help in defending the power plant. By the time they arrive, Quicksand and his minions have already arrived and are moving on the station. The group divides up and begins to take out the minions, who are more adept than your typical criminal but soon succumb to the onslaught of Ice Age and Voltage. As Quicksand begins to whip up the sandstorm that will sink the plant underground and crush it, Ice Age creates a lattice of ice constructs across the ground so they sit below Quicksand while Voltage begins absorbing energy from the power station itself. Just as Ice Age projects her ice up to grasp Quicksand, Voltage releases all her absorbed energy through the ice lattice so that it shocks Quicksand and defeats him. Quicksand briefly apologizes to his lost queen before turning once more into sand and blowing away in the wind.

In the Epilogue, the three Fates command Threads to inform the government of the location of Voltage, so he sends a message using his phone as he’s leaving the power plant. Later, the four meet at the strip mall near Thread’s shop for teriyaki and to discuss becoming a proper super-team. Meanwhile, across the food court, you can see someone video recording the unsuspecting heroes as they enjoy their victory. Will it be short-lived?