Archipelago: Galactic Grandees

Tonight we played another session of Archipelago by Matthijs Holter in a galaxy teetering on the brink of war and peace. Our cast includes Henry DeVoit, who is the eldest son of the galaxy’s richest man who lives on the LuxStar satellite that orbits techno-planet Cesta Prime and owns VoidStar Ventures; James Medow, who personally owns two-thirds of the farmlands on agricultural planet Medowpotamia; Pandora Spocks, a native of the planet Gardenia who flies the vast empty reaches between these planets, carrying food to whoever needs it, especially the prisoners of the Ice Blockade; Zara Third, CEO of Speedy Ships Monopoly and inventor of the finest propulsion systems known; and Linton Balor, the duly elected president of the Mining Guild, which hews precious minerals and resources out of the Diamond Belt, a dense and impassable cluster of asteroids that block off one end of this sector.

Map of our sector of the galaxy with character card standees in the background.

Our adventure begins with Zara Third relaxing in the artificial planet known as the Chill Zone where she encounters James Medow and Henry DeVoit splashing their riches. While Zara tries to impress these old-money luminaries with tales of her latest transport contract and propulsion systems, the pair instead mock her for being common and full of impossible ideas. While James complains about the stuffy decor of the LuxStar, Henry laments having to wait to come into his inheritance and challenges Zara to enter the races to go against his father’s ships. Across the system, Linton Balor and his miners have boarded Pandora Spocks ship to inspect her cargo. While Pandora tries to convince Balor that he’s sold out and needs to join her cause, they are interrupted by a news flash that weapons-grade plasma lasers have been developed and the miners begin to wonder if they can adapt them for their business needs. After flying on with her cargo, Pandora lands on Medowpotamia and tries to enlist James Medow and his farm workers in her socialist scheme to feed all the hungry in the galaxy, but learns that the wealthy are selfishly interested in nothing but profit. The farm workers, however, might be a different story.

After losing his entire monthly allowance betting against Zara in the races (and James having teasingly bet on the newcomer and minted credits), Henry is chastised by his father David DeVoit and forced to abase himself in front of his friend, whose stock rises in the eyes of the great patriarch. In order to successfully smuggle agricultural products stolen from Medowpotamia with the help of local farm workers, Pandora must bribe guild officials when her forged and incomplete manifests are discovered. Having won big at the races, Zara Third negotiates the purchase of a large second-hand rocket thruster from the mining guild who uses them to shuttle enormous asteroids out of the way of their operations. We also see Balor and the mining guild working feverishly to perfect and master the use of the new plasma lasers for mining and to cut through the densest of rocks in the Diamond Belt.

Pandora leads her farm workers back to their families where she inspires them to direct action to take over the farms they work, thus beginning the great worker uprising of Medowpotamia that could transform the planet into socialist commune. Tired of living under his father’s thumb, Henry DeVoit hires Medowpotamian security personnel to assassinate his father and make it appear that he was killed in the uprising. He is relaxing in the Chill Zone with his mother when he learns that his father has written him out of his will and given his shares to James Medow. Zara Third hosts a product demonstration to show off her new propulsion systems, but instead launches her second-hand rocket while attached to the LuxStar, sending it careering through space toward Medowpotamia. When the LuxStar arrives at Medowpotamia, James purchases the now abandoned husk and remodels it to match the farmhouse aesthetic he loves and moves into his new home where he can continue to look down safely upon his world and the farmers in revolt. Months later as Balor’s mining guild continues using the reconfigured plasma weapons to mine the asteroid belt with newfound efficiency, they eventually push through the field into the empty space beyond where they discover something they could never have imagined, a dragon larger than a thousand stars asleep inside the cage formed by the Diamond Belt asteroids. Now that the belt has been weakened from all their laser-powered mining activity, is the galaxy safe?

Inventors Watch a Gate

Person stand below a massive stone arch up at the solar system behind the gate--Gate Watch is written across the top and Collaborative Cinematic Storytelling across the bottom.
Gate Watch cover image courtesy of Dyvers Hands Games.

Tonight we played a session of Gate Watch by Christopher Allen, a game about a group of people tasked with monitoring an inter-dimensional gate between worlds. We are three citizens of Edisity, a technological world full of corrupt humans driven by greed and our insatiable sense of need: Guy Videl, a garrulous youth kicked out of college for stealing other’s inventions, Syl Bagger, a discredited inventor whose research challenged the pieties of the Inventors Guild, and Blyth Dorke, a simple soul who just wants to help people and not disappoint her family. Although we don’t know it yet, across the veil of the gate lies a magical world, free of humanity’s impure touch.

Our story starts with Guy asking Blyth and Syl to assist him in stealing the plans of his invention from the vaults at his old school. When Guy goes to distract the security forces, Blyth and her spider monkey Dante break into the vault and steal all the plans registered to Guy Videl. Once the school realizes that secret information is missing, security across the city is heightened and we face more intense scrutiny. Later, Blyth interrogates Guy about his real motives for wanting the plans stolen; she suspects he was involved in the building of the gate. On another night spent patrolling around the gate, Syl finds themselves asking Blyth to forgive them for losing her mother’s brooch through the gate after having “borrowed” it. Blyth reveals that her family has always said the stones in the brooch came from the other side of the gate.

Guy next approaches Syl to reveal to them what he had found in the cache stolen from the university: designs for the gate with unpronounceable inscriptions on them registered in the name of Guy E. Videl more than 700 years in the past. This only sparks Blyth’s suspicions further, and she confronts Guy when next they share a shift guarding the gate, this time confronting him within earshot of their supervisor. He laughs at the idea that Guy could have anything to do with the gate or its origins; Guy barely even has to the deny it. Next the three of us use a translation program to read aloud the script on the gate plans while we’re standing at the gate. The space within the gate’s mouth shimmers and changes to show a seashore with blood red sand. The police arrive to arrest Guy in connection with the college heist, so we flee together through the doorway of the gate. Fade to black.