An Especially Bloody Final Voyage

Tonight we reconvened online to play Final Voyage of the Selene by James Mullen. We begin by seeing how each of us originally boarded the ship. Ambassador Masiri, flanked by security personnel, races to board the Selene, leaving a killing field of bodies behind on a planet bathed in the light of a red giant star. Lt. Kazarian stands among such a wasteland surrounded by the bodies of her comrades in arms, swearing to seek revenge for their deaths before becoming security on the Selene in her search. Professor Carris meets with his old student Dr. Tsien about joining them as a passenger on the Selene in order to study the substitial space the exists between the nodes. Juve Jax Mahler, a scavenger on a war-decimated planet, slips aboard the Selene when it stops for spare parts. Adam Pryce touchingly bids farewell to his mother and his homeworld a dozen years ago, and proves his strength aboard the freighter by working his way up to Chief. Doctor Tsien works at a hospital caring for children but leaves abruptly to join the Selene as their colleagues look on baffled.

In Act One, our dramatis personae get to know one another. Chief Pryce and Doc Tsien talk of sports and the captains of the Selene, who may need replacing. Juvenile Jax Mahler learns of the stellarnet from Prof. Carris and confesses he stowed away aboard ship. Ambassador Masiri and Lt. Kazarian bond over the costs of war and the need for peace over dinner. Dr. Tsien takes Juve Mahler under their wing and ask the youth to check out the contents of the cargo bay. Lt. Kazarian discuss the rumors of a stowaway and the exigencies of love with Chief Pryce before running into Juve Mahler, who they fail to identify as the stowaway. Prof. Carris discusses how stymied is his research with Dr. Tsien and Ambassador Masiri, who can’t help mentioning those slaughtered in war, even at dinner.

In Act Two, Dr. Tsien is discovered rummaging through the cargo bay by Lt. Kazarian and convinces her that they’re looking for evidence of smugglers. Juve Mahler is caught in the bowels of the ship by Chief Pryce, who ends up teaching the boy everything about the ship in a montage that ends with the discovery of the captain dead in his cabin. Prof. Carris erects a complex instrument on the observation deck to study a tear forming in the fabric of substitial space that draws the attention of Ambassador Masiri. He learns that the Ambassador turned his mate into a poisonous weapon before leaving her behind in order to ensure her fidelity, or at least his revenge upon anyone with whom she might be unfaithful. Lt. Kazarian and Ambassador Masiri meet and share a moment before Juve Mahler comes and confesses to having manufactured the machines that massacred her patrol at the Battle of Frakus. The Lieutenant tells Juve that he’ll need to testify to what he knows and takes the Ambassador back to her room. Chief Pryce has assumed command after the captain’s death and Dr. Tsien has proof, they say, that Lt. Kazarian poisoned the captain, so they rush to her room to quarantine the soldier and confront the Ambassador about his secrets.

In the Epilogue, the tear in space sends the Selene hurtling out of substitial space into a crash course with Earth. The Ambassador releases Lt. Kazarian, who accepts Masiri’s alien infection, from quarantine and they use an artifact to escape the crash together. Chief Pryce sacrifices himself to save the lifepod the others have all escaped to. With his dying breath, he successfully converts Juve to his own faith. Doctor Tsien does not make it back to Earth, finally succumbing to the disease that sent them aboard the Selene to seek across the galaxy for a cure. Not long after landing safely on Earth, ancient Professor Carris reports to the intelligence bureau all the information he has gathered about the alien infection Ambassador Masiri carries and the mass killings he’s perpetrated in his missions of peace. Juve Mahler not only converts and makes it to Earth aboard the same lifepod as the others, but also becomes a wealthy, bestselling author. Many years later at an author reading, he hears the words of forgiveness he has long wished for from a much-changed, now-alien Lt. Kazarian.

Fiasco at Hangin’ with Jesus

Tonight we played the new second edition of Fiasco by Jason Morningstar on Roll20 using the Poppleton Mall play deck. Our cast includes Andre, employee at Muscle Logic and fellow church parishioner with Sarah. Sarah loves the Lord and knows that through hard work and clean living she’ll find success and riches, so she’s opened a religious poster shop called Hangin’ with Jesus with her sister. Megan, Sarah’s sister, not only shares her drive to succeed through posters but is also a fitness enthusiast who regularly shops at Muscle Logic.

Fiasco poster from Bully Pulpit Games.

Our story starts when Andre and Sarah discuss their respective businesses at Sarah’s house until Andre goes upstairs to talk to Sarah’s young cousin Barry about his human growth hormone. At Hangin’ with Jesus, Megan and Sarah discuss how slow business has been and the need to move merchandise if they’re to meet their goals. The next day, Sarah helps Andre pick up the spilled contents of his bag as they’re coming into the mall and realizes that he’s taken Barry’s medicine. Andre visits Megan at her store and orders twenty posters to promote a sale at Muscle Logic; the posters show Jesus suffering as “Before” on one side and a buff Jesus triumphant as “After” on the other. Before Megan goes on a run in her Holy running outfit, she brags to Sarah about the big sale she made that day without telling her what actually sold. Later, Sarah leads Rev. Huntberry from church to Andre’s home to confront him about the stolen HGH, and the reverend makes Andre promise to tell Barry’s parents what he’s done before that week’s Bible study session.

The next day, after service, Andre explains to Bart, Barry’s dad, how he traded a video game for the HGH because he was using it to help people in need to get bigger and offers to buy more from him for $50 a dose. Megan meets Andre at Muscle Logic, buys mega-dose vitamins, and promises to have his posters ready for him the next day, even though the sample she made has gone missing. Back at home, she discovers why it’s gone missing, when Sarah scolds Megan about the cross-promotion posters that fail to mention their poster shop and that will cost them way more than they take in after all the extra photoshop and printing costs to create the composite picture. Earlier that night, before he’d returned to Muscle Logic, Andre was at Bible study with Sarah, who’d seen him shaking hands with Bart, not realizing that they had just settled on the terms of their drug supply trade. Once the posters are up in the mall, Megan manages to get arrested by mall security when they catch her writing Hangin’ with Jesus on a poster to fix things with Sarah. For her part, Sarah arrives later that day to find her store empty but wide open (where’s Megan?) and spends the day watching waves of people mobbing Muscle Logic to take advantage of the sale.

In the aftermath of this, Andre discovers he miscalculated and gave too large a discount on the sale and too favorable terms to Bart, so he not only loses money but must close down Muscle Logic. Megan ends up having a vitamin induced seizure when in the custody of mall security and the store ends up the butt of jokes in memes on TikTok. Sarah, despondent at the failure with the store, starts spending more and more time at church until Rev. Huntberry convinces her to go on a missionary trip to the Amazon rainforest to convert the entirely indifferent indigenous peoples.

Scalpels and Hearts at The Ward

This past week we played The Ward by Kevin “Chroma” Petker which we used to participate in the pilot episode of the day time medical drama, Scalpels and Hearts.

The protagonists were Charlie, the new and innocent intern, Samuel Johnson, the old and wiley nurse, Dr. Apple McFly, the iron-willed senior resident, and Dr. Jennifer, the young, arrogant and seductive cardiology specialist.

It was a muggy night in Manhattan, wee hours of the morning, around 3 am, when Manuel, the Head of Surgery, is carted into the ER. The EMT wants to hand the patient to the hospital, but their first contact at the hospital is intern Charlie, who not only is in over her head, but is also shocked of the encounter as she had an affair with Manuel’s wife earlier the day before. She ends up calling Dr. McFly to help her attend Manuel. Dr. McFly, or Bumble Bee, as some call her, takes charge and gathers as much information as she can form the EMT and deduces that it is an overdose of opiates that she is dealing with. She confers with Dr. Jennifer, who was leaving the hospital mysteriously late, and agree on a course of treatment. Unfortunately, Manuel does not respond as expected and needs to be brought into the ICU for further treatment.

The following day, Manuel’s wife, Manola, storms into the hospital, demanding to see her husband. She is received my Samuel who answers what he can, but is put into an awkward position when Manola demands that she is given a luxury room at the hospital where she can stay at while her husband is in the ICU. He informs her that such room is unavailable, and she does not believe that, reminding Samuel that she knows Thomas, the Medical Director personally and she can make his life miserable. Meanwhile, Charlie rejoices that Manola is at the hospital… and starts scheming on how to get Manuel out of her way!

Meanwhile, at the cafeteria, Dr. McFly is approached by Gerald, who is very disappointed with her as she flaked out on their anniversary dinner the night before. Dr. McFly is surprised by this as she thought they were only roommates… but then again, she had been giving lots of mixed signals, she HAD agreed to a fancy dinner after all, but she had been clear that they were only roommates, but then why did she have him as her emergency contact? And just like the night before when she had to call off the dinner because of work, this time work saves her again as we hear her name being called in the loudspeaker as a young man has just been brought in after being run over by a car.

Later in the day, we see Manuela, walking in one of the halls of the hospital, walking towards the luxury room she wanted to stay at. It is clearly not being used by a patient. Why did the nurse tell her it was unavailable knowing who she was? Turns out, the room was not really empty… Samuel and Jennifer quickly put on back their clothes as they notice someone coming into the room, just as the episode ends.

Mage Against the Machine

Tonight, we tried out a new game from Jordan Palmer, Mage Against the Machine for the first time. We struggled a bit with setup and seeing how to connect the two components, but we powered through to create an interesting story of time-traveling wizards determined to prevent the robot apocalypse through magical and mundane interventions in their personal histories.

An insectoid robot towers over three wizards in a circle casting a spell with Mage Against the Machine emblazoned overhead.
Mage Against the Machine cover art by Matthew Warwick courtesy of

After our various interventions, the robot apocalypse was no more, but our memories had been sacrificed to save the world. Claire’s fond memory of eating spaghetti one night at her aunt’s house, defining the love felt before, became a memory filled with acrimony as we successfully turned her aunt against the unreliable AI appliances but also caused a falling out between Claire and her aunt. Next, Burt’s joyful memory of rowing a boat on vacation with his uncle becomes a memory of grief as his uncle blamed him for watching too much social media after we disrupted the impact social media exerted on the world. Later, Burt’s pride at having built a functioning autonomous car for his child neighbor is transformed into shame after we cure the child of his learning challenges so he no longer relies so heavily upon AI mental health providers.

The next memory we tackle is Marcus’s gratitude when his parents move the family to a small apartment so they can afford to send him to Mage Middle School. His gratitude becomes bitterness for having been forced to move after we reset the mover robots that had previously driven them around town making him think they were moving far away. Next, Randall lovingly remembers the robot he built with his father that provided him with a surrogate while his father was busy working, but that becomes hatred of the robot that can never replace his father after we make the robot emotionally stunted. Later, Claire’s pride at graduating from college becomes shame after we invert the logic circuits of the school’s bots result in her being 1 credit short and never graduating.

Jeremy loses entirely the memory of when his robot saved him from bullies on the soccer field entirely after we reprogram the robot so it wants to please and will obey whatever orders it is given, including the bullies order to stand down. Finally, Marcus always felt great pride in his robot-free workplace as a magical shipping clerk at his first job, but that pride turns to shame when he loses his job after we magically incinerate the contents of a particular secretive box prior to it shipping out, preventing the military’s loss of their drone forces.