Doubled Love Balloon

This week we set sail once again on the Love Balloon by Ray Chou and came together for hijinks and romance. Julie Plover is our airship’s Activities Director, working to ensure everyone enjoys the cruise. Staying in the Presidential Suite are Dane Cabot, a charming playboy out for fleeting romance, and Eris Show, a shy professional performer who’s living a double life. In three single suites are Terry Spear, writer of paranormal holiday romance novels about wolf billionaires; Blake Duran, a has-been action celebrity looking for a way back to relevance; and Hermes Diabolite, a stage magician whose memory is beginning to fade and whose sleight of hand is no longer so sleight.

Our story begins with Julie escorting Eris, overcome by the crowds at the mooring station, through the back halls of the airship to her cabin. Dane will apparently join her later, as he is too busy charming Hermes while securing a dove that threatens to fly away from the aging magician. At one of the airship’s bars, Terry runs into Blake and gushes over his past triumphs and suggests that he would be perfect to play a werewolf billionaire in an adaptation of her work. As the airship flies on to our first port of call, our cast tumbles into each other some more. Hermes runs into Blake and they discuss their respective histories in the movie and entertainment business. They bond over Blake’s films (Vital Organs and Bloodsport 7) and their near-miss collaborations over the years, so Blake asks Hermes if playing a billionaire werewolf would be a good career move. Meanwhile, Terry bumps into Eris in the airship’s library, who they mine for story ideas before pressing The Wolf King of Passover into the young woman’s hands. In a dining room with a lounge piano, Dane is chatting with Julie about her life and her work until he decides to sing her a song.

The Love Balloon, a game of ... hijinks, humor & romance appears in the left hand corner with two figures dancing the Charleston to the right in a field of soft pink.

At the Seven Geysers, Blake leaves the ship and runs into Dane camped out behind the observation glass as they wait for the famous 49-minute geyser to erupt. Blake is obsessed with how to reinvent and reinvigorate his career, throwing multiple ideas (playing Corazon Aquino, releasing an album) at the young man, but Dane suggests he doesn’t need reinvention but new additions, to expand himself rather than begin again. The old actor is quite taken in by the interest the young man shows in him and expresses his hope to see him again as the geyser erupts. Earlier on the ship, not long after most had gone ashore, Julie encounters Eris in the ballroom dancing alone, suggests she consider going ashore, but ends up dancing with her to help the young woman learn the foxtrot. Overcome, Eris dashes off to her room.

Back sailing the skies, there is a masquerade as the airship heads back to port. We begin with Julie talking about the cruise and whether the aging actor has found what he seeks, until Eris interrupts on her way inside. Blake asks Julie to show Dane to his table when he arrives and heads inside. Julie discovers Eris in the restroom and asks her to come out and dance, but doesn’t notice when Dane emerges from the bathroom, so gives him her kerchief and directs him to Blake. After a brief talk with Blake, Dane asks him to get some drinks and disappears. When the foxtrot starts, Eris dances with Julie, who notices her neckerchief sticking out of the girl’s pocket, and tells her not to shut herself away. When Blake arrives, Eris runs away and Dane returns still with Julie’s neckerchief and when a dancer bumps into Dane, knocking his hat and mask off, it’s revealed that Eris and Dane are the same person.

Crying profusely, Julie pulls Eris away from the crowds and tells her that she is nice no matter who she appears to be. Blake suggests her two parts need to be brought together and explains how much he’s learned from the roles he’s played. They agree to meet to watch an animated film tomorrow morning when Julie has downtime before the ship approaches its destination. After the cruise, Blake provides the voice for an animated series about a billionaire werewolf in which Eris gets a voice role too.

Follow the Wolves

We played Follow by Ben Robbins this week, forming a movement to advocate for werewolves’ civil rights. Our group consists of romantic idealist Fantina Lycanfyl and her child Kal, violent revolutionary Lupin Pires, armchair rebel and peacemaker Herbert Allen, experienced international legal advocate Regene and her documentarian friend Findal, Debbie Boland who doubts our group’s abilities, and the impatient true believer Victor Forthright.

We begin our quest to secure werewolves their rights by trying to organize a protest of an injustice. We think we’ve found the perfect moment when Lupin is fired because he couldn’t work one full moon night. Regene begins building a legal case and learning about the obstacles werewolves face in our society. Regene argues for legal action and creating a community support center, but Lupin wants to fight in the streets while Victor advocates for an immediate rally. In our meeting to settle on a plan of action, Fantina sees the value in both and Herbert tries to bring the two sides together. Eventually, we compromise by planning to hold a rally to raise funds and consciousnesses supporting a community center that can give werewolves a safe space to meet and seek legal and medical aid. However, the group fails to pull everything together in time for the date set, so Debbie decides we’re too disorganized to be effective and leaves the group.

Follow rpg logo over alpine mountain peaks
Follow logo courtesy Lamemage Games.

Regene shares secret information with Fantina and Victor about famous pop star Irina Saari hiding her werewolf status, and together decide that it would help our cause if she could be convinced to reveal her true nature. Regene plans to meet with her alone to begin recruiting the star. Despite being sworn to secrecy, Fantina tells Kal, who in turn reveals the truth to the rest of the group and a considerable number of her friends at school. Kal and Lupin’s child (Lupito) form a fan club at school for Irina and Lupito gets his whole class into Irina’s music, while his father creates a major online “Werewolves for Irina” fan destination site. Herbert leads his pack of youths on a pilgrimage to follow Irina from concert to concert and keep up a howling section at all her shows. Regene decides now is the time to approach Irina and intercepts her when Irina is collecting the Wolvesbane Nectar needed for the transformation-suppression drug that both Irina and Regene use to keep their wolf-natures under control. After much discussion, Regene convinces Irina this could be good not only for all wolves but a professional coup for her. Soon after, Irina releases a new album called Secrets and begins a media tour during which she reveals her secret. Kal is so inspired that they decide to become a singer and leaves the group to follow that dream.

Finally, we decide to build out and open the community center, but the building Regene secured during our protest challenge is in desperate need of repairs. Knowing that it would take months to complete the restoration, we decide that the restoration itself can be the center’s first community-building project, like an old-style barn raising. In support, Herbert leads his pack door-to-door evangelizing for the center and asking for people’s help. Victor puts donation canisters in stores throughout the city, while Fantina and Lupin organize a bake sale at the local farmer’s market and Lupito leads a children’s talent show. Fantina is everywhere during the restoration, working on the kitchens, the roof, the bathrooms, and the decor. Regene runs into Irina working at the center one day, and they discuss when Regene might stop using the wolvesbane and reveal herself until they’re interrupted by Findal and his documentary camera. With the support of the community, we succeed in opening the community center to aid werewolves across the city.

In epilogues, we see Lupin settled at the community center, less violent and more happy than ever before. Victor practically lives at the community center and his family comes all the time. Findal completes and releases his documentary about our movement at film festivals and travels with Regene when she leaves for Madagascar to help the werewolves there. Fantina grows restless and begins to look for another cause to support, while Herbert, pleased with how peaceful we were, often brings his entire pack around to the community center to hang out and enjoy the newfound space.

Venture to the Bane

We played Venture by Riley Rethal this week, as a group of adventurers commissioned by the royal family to rescue the Prince, lost in the haunted forest. We are well-known in the kingdom for our skill, honor, and (most of us) loyalty: Sebastian the honorable Paladin, Topaz the scavenging Rogue, Dalavarr the weather Wizard, Aloisius the doubting Cleric, and Claresta the impulsive Fighter.

Our adventure begins being called to the palace and taken to a hidden royal garden to meet the Lord Chancellor who explains that our mission is delicate and must be kept secret, but the Prince was lost recently on a hunting mission, pulled into the haunted forest and did not emerge. All fear that the Bane has taken him and recall what we’ve heard of the creature: its rows of razor sharp teeth, that it is a cursed human, that it guards the forest, that it is intelligent, and that it prefers to be left alone. We ride for the point where the Prince was lost. On the road, Topaz decides to unload some items she picked up at the palace: a pair of chainmail gloves that Sebastian accepts without asking their provenance, but Claresta rejects the steel dagger with the runes because it’s too puny a weapon. Sebastian takes a quiet moment to ask Aloisius why the cleric does not trust him. Aloisius explains that the fervor and breadth of the paladin’s faith are disconcerting to him, who has never felt such divine passion, but trusts that he will do his duty.

At last we enter the forest, but we keep finding ourselves emerging back where we started. Dalavarr attempts to conjure a wind to dispel the forest fog, but first the fog envelopes us and as it clears, we find ourselves in a market, populated by fae folk. Dalavarr warns us of the dangers of bargains with the fae, but we find ourselves the object of much attention. One goblin is amused by us and approaches to offer help to the strangers out of place. Learning we seek the Bane, he laughed at us for thinking we could find the what we seek when entering the Bane’s forest, and suggests we return with the intention to fill this bag he hands us with forest bark, which he trades us for a lock of Dalavarr’s half-elven hair.

Taking the goblin’s advice, we return to the forest seeking bark but find, instead, a line of mushrooms marching through the forest. Topaz purloins one and returns to the group, but the mushroom taunts us relentlessly until we give up on them leading us anywhere. After catching up with the other mushrooms, we’re able to trade showing us the bark near the Bane’s home in exchange for creating a new damp place for the mushroom’s home. Topaz sneaks up to the Bane’s window and sees the creature sitting together at a table with the Prince. Sebastian takes the lead and calls out to the Bane, who is suspicious but eventually lets us into the house. The Bane tells us that he will not release his companion and that we must go, but Sebastian volunteers to stay in the Prince’s place. We all agree to come back to visit regularly, so the Bane agrees to release the Prince. We agree to return at least every fortnight, and we bring oxen as a gift.

In the epilogue, Claresta asks the Prince if he can summon woodland creatures to do his chores (No.) while Topaz ponders how to use the royal boon that she’s earned. Dalavarr, having a long-time secret crush on the Prince, spends much of the trip back talking and getting to know the young man. And the Prince agrees to keep the Bane and the pact secret. Once we’ve filled the goblin’s sack, it disappears to return to the fairy realms.

Epitaph for a Bartender

Tonight we played Epitaph by Marc Hobbs, a new game in which you explore the life of a character you create together.


A bartender named Mason never leaves the contemporary Midwestern city he is born into. He dreams of writing a book of the definitive and original drinks he mixes throughout his career. Mason, unlike most, sees and recognizes the fae folk who live among humanity for what they truly are.

Epitaph cover courtesy of Less Than Three Games.


Born 1933 in Traverse City, MI

Age 18 (1951)

Mason graduating from high school and saying goodbye to Opal.

  • Snapshot: Mason hugging Opal in their graduation gowns, saying goodbye as she goes to college and he prepares for the Korean War draft.
  • Reflection: Feels great nostalgia for Opal but wishes things had ended better.

Age 18 (1951)

Closing up the bar by himself for the first time (a few months after graduation).

  • Snapshot: Mason is standing in the dark bar with all the chairs and stools on top of the tables looking into a glowing hole in the wall, which houses a miniature bar. Two sprites with wings are serving drinks to other fairy folk inside.
  • Reflection: Feels privileged to have gotten to witness that moment and the fairy folk. He’s grateful to not be one who overlooks things.

Age 19 (1952)

Mason’s first encounter with Fenwick the selkie.

  • Snapshot: Shorter person in an oversized cloak with hood sitting at the bar smiling while waiting for Mason to serve him. Mason is wearing a puzzled expression on his face.
  • Reflection: Finds it amusing how clueless and skeptical of Fenwick he was initially.

Age 28 (1961)

First time Mason met Bethany.

  • Snapshot: Mason and Bethany at the bar on his birthday with streamers and balloons in the background, with Mason leaning over the bar talking to Bethany, who is smiling but not into him. Mason falls for that smile.
  • Reflection: Mason loves this memory; it makes him happy.

Age 35 (1968)

Mason serving a new drink inspired by a faun to a human (hairy hoof).

  • Scene: Local boy tries the drink after insisting that Mason remake it so that it uses only locally sourced or other non-exploitative ingredients. He really likes it and says he’ll bring his friends.
  • Reflection: Mason is extremely proud of his accomplishment to create this new drink, but feels guilty about not trusting the fae when they suggested the drinks.

Age 40 (1973)

Mason and Bethany’s long-delayed wedding.

  • Remembrance: Bethany remembers how long they had waited and their two children (age 6 and 3) in attendance. She feels their love will endure, and was so grateful to have her children in attendance. She remembers falling for him slowly due to his good humor and soft laughter, and how he was always there for her.

Age 43 (1976)

Mason starting to write his book.

  • Snapshot: Mason sitting at his kitchen/dining table with a toddler at his feet, a 6-year old sitting with him, and a 9-year old walking by. Mason is writing out the recipe for an old-fashioned that he believes he has at last perfected and deciding to write a book of his drink recipes.
  • Reflection: Mason sees this as the best decision he ever made.

Age 57 (1990)

Mason and Fenwick arguing over a drink recipe.

  • Scene: Fenwick claims that a Pale Sea Water needs more sea grapes, but Mason realizes that he served Fenwick a Manhattan by mistake. A young professional walks up to the bar and orders two Manhattans, ignoring the dispute between the two.
  • Reflection: Mason remembers with fondness the friendship of the selkie, even if his certainty and stubbornness were frequently frustrating.

Age 70 (2003)

Wake for bar’s previous owner who had sold the bar to Mason ages ago.

  • Snapshot: Mason sitting surrounded by his family including his new grandchild in his daughter’s arms and the many people who know him or his predecessor. People are raising glasses and hugging and consoling one another as they gather in an irregular semicircle around the bar with Mason at the center.
  • Reflection: Mason feels contentment when thinking about this event, when so many wonderful friends came together to remember someone who meant so much to them all.

Died 2017 in Traverse City, MI (Age 84)


  • To honor Mason, the Sprites who work in the weefolk bar-within-a-bar paint the signature inlaid in the glasses his unique drinks are served in so the signature actively shimmers like phosphorus and the signature never fades.
  • His children pull together all his various drink notes and recipes into a proper book that is printed as well as a hand-bound version that preserves his original papers that they keep at the bar.