Dawn of the Dragon Invasion

In the week’s session of Dawn of the Monster Invasion by Randy Lubin, we portrayed six speeches to follow the invasion and response to an incursion of dragons across the world.

Our story begins with a backpacker in a National Park telling everyone she can find about the bird-bat hybrids she saw flying in the fog on the mountaintop. She describes the leathery wings and long beaks but is puzzled when she remembers the long tail. Later, a herpetologist at a scientific conference presents his findings from his efforts to find and identify the creature the hiker saw. He believes that it is a dragon, although he’s willing to entertain other words for the creature. He tells about the long scorch marks like a flamethrower shot through the trees, but the other conference-goers believe his lifelong obsession with dragons is clouding his scientific judgement. Some think he may even have manipulated his data to draw his desired conclusion. Surely, there is another, simpler explanation.

The Bounders live-streamer goes out into the Park looking to prove the reports true by getting the creature, whatever it is, on film. His commenters include plenty of skeptics, people who say he’s using a green screen and not even in the park. He shows the world around him to prove his honesty, but then sees something that frightens him. He sees a bird and follows its flight so fails to see the small dragon that flits between trees behind him. A gigantic shadow passes over him, and he looks up when he hears the flapping of giant wings. He screams and the stream goes silent.

At a PTA meeting in a school across the state from the park, a mother named Susan exhorts everyone to prepare for the dragons, and to build their own bunker. You’ll need as much canned food and toilet paper as you can store. She has a sealed, safe concrete bunker in her basement and ends up inviting the other parents to stay with her when they start asking questions. She says she has plenty of water and fire extinguishers for the stay. One mother insists on bringing a bevy of tutors for her daughter to prepare her daughter for college once we emerge from the bunker in about five years. Susan storms off when that woman starts claiming ownership of the bunker for herself and threatens to kick Susan out. We’re all left wondering if the invitation still stands.

Many months later, after the dragons have begun appearing all over, ever closer to populated areas, a group of investors has gathered in a lone conference room to hear the pitch from one James Weldon. James wants to steal dragon eggs, raise and domesticate them, and open parks for people to see these creatures up close. They might even be able to ride them. Most of us doubt his ability to deliver, what with him never before having found a dragon egg or spent any time training them. Others think his monetization plan is too narrow, when there could be many other, more lucrative applications for domesticated dragons. Meanwhile across the country, a group of government bureaucrats are meeting with a researcher who insists that the best way to destroy these pests is by introducing reptile pathogens into their habitats. The hope is if you infect one of the large enclaves that the disease will spread to other areas, weakening the creatures enough to make eradication easy. Any collateral damage could easily be contained through quarantine protocols, he assures them. If the military can procure some test subjects and he can build out his team of experts, we can have a working prototype in a few short months.

However, his plan apparently fails because our final speech is made by a lizard person, a humanoid with reptilian eyes and scaly skin. She explains that now that her people have aided humanity, as requested, by telepathically controlling and calming the dragons, they will continue to control things here on the surface. And it won’t be necessary for our destructive human civilization to continue. They will order the dragons to delivery anything we may need to survive, and may even leave us with our precious internet for entertainment. Some lucky few of us have lizard person blood and will receive special privileges, including activation and training in the use of our dormant psychic abilities. She orders us all to go home and to stay out of trouble.

On the Galactic Rim

Our game this week is Galactic by Riley Rethal where we’re a group adventuring in a galaxy far, far away. We are fresh-faced, young scholar and innocent Nova, Liam; Yin, the tired Mechanic and her droid BeeDee; and Ayden Daviron, a Scoundrel who seems to know everyone.

Our story begins with Liam having a nightmarish vision of his older brother as a suffering child. Yin goes into his room to wake and calm the young Nova down. She’s worried about him and asks if he thinks the vision is the Force trying to guide him.

Galactic cover showing a ragtag group of misfit rebels with planets and stars in the sky behind them.

When they first met, Liam sold his research books to pay for passage aboard Ayden’s ship. In exchange, Ayden agreed to fly wherever the kid’s search for his brother takes him, at least as long as his credits hold out. Now the visions guiding the young Nova are getting stronger and more disturbing.

Yin joined us mostly involuntarily after being stranded on a world at the edge of Mandate control after her baby, a souped-up starship had been stolen. Ayden, with Liam aboard, had hired Yin to repair his ship after something rattled loose and it became near impossible to keep her level, probably some stabilizer broken when he’d crashed into a tower while stealing it. In town while the repairs were underway, Ayden and Liam encountered a bounty hunter and outraced him back to the hanger, exchanging blaster fire along the way. Yin and BeeDee were still aboard and completing repairs when Ayden rocketed out of the dock and into space. He explained to us that the bounty on his head should really be on the head of his ex-partner, a Rhodian named Pons, who betrayed him and stole a shipment that left him in debt to some very unreasonable people.

After his nightmare from the opening, Liam meditates to determine his brother’s location, and eventually emerges to tell Ayden they need to visit a forest world. Is there one close by? Ayden flies us to a popular smuggler redoubt on a forest moon in the Ebonite system. We land safely because the smugglers all know Ayden, but that includes one outraged guy named Chett, who’s got old beef with the smuggler. Once they’re off the ship, Liam feels a strong pull and goes running off into the forest alone. Meanwhile, Ayden gets into a fight with Chett at the local cantina while Yin tries, unsuccessfully, to enjoy a drink. When we’re later driven from the bar, Yin notices her stolen ship in one of the docking bays. We concoct a plan for her to sneak aboard and steal it back while Ayden distracts the thief. Ayden walks up to the current owner as he’s working in the hangar, a man named Cylus, complaining about Chett. They exchange stories until Ayden asks if Cylus has any jobs that he could cut Ayden in on. But Cylus doesn’t trust Ayden and wants nothing to do with him. Unfortunately for Cylus, Yin sneaks aboard and gets away in her ship before he can react with anything more than a few ineffectual blaster bolts.

Out in the forest, Liam approaches an abandoned, crumbling Nova temple, drawn to it, sensing an intense presence within. Inside, he finds his brother, Victor, but Victor is strange, hard and uncaring. He says he’s been calling to the young Liam to bring him here, so he can join him. Liam learns that his brother has studied here to learn the ways of the dark side, which he needed to overcome his pain. Now that he’s mastered his pain, he plans to use this power to take down the Mandate, and he needs Liam’s help. Liam agrees to help Victor in his noble cause, but surely, they can do it without the dark side. Victor rejects his brother’s naïveté and insists they discover the other temples of power and master their dark secrets.

Once Yin and Ayden have reconnected, they go off to meet Liam at the temple. He’s clearly troubled when we find him, and we try to convince him to come with us, to join us in our adventures rather than getting involved in an impossible quest that’s going to get him killed. But Liam can’t abandon his brother now that he’s found him, so he pays Ayden for his passage. Unsure what else to do, Ayden and Yin watch Liam say goodbye and walk back into the temple, determined to save his brother and the galaxy at the same time.

The Disappearing Magic Circle

We returned, this week, to The Magic Circle by Jason Morningstar, in which we play the supernatural monsters living in the titular cul-de-sac. There are four of us. Ylda the writer is a werewolf who lives in #25 with her werewolf husband and two children. Zaragoza the injury attorney lives at the corner of the Circle and Joy Lane, from where he watches the whole neighborhood. Vedette Rasep is a former psychic whose soul is trapped inside a doll and who gets around by controlling the mind and body of whomever “owns” the doll. She lives at # 17 and makes a good living selling doll clothes for dolls and people on Etsy. Finally is Townes the golden retriever, who lives with a family with three children at # 26 and became super-intelligent after having been abducted by aliens. Townes leads our monthly council meetings.

Our first meeting is at Vedette’s house, although she fails to provide much edible for the group. Ylda begins the meeting by lamenting the teenagers hanging out in the forest and seriously interfering with her and Hordlak’s werewolf activities. She suggests we need a better youth center to keep them occupied elsewhere. Vedette thinks we should make them sick, or make one disappear, to ward off the others. Townes proposes the community build a skate park over in the undeveloped expansion lot. Ylda says she can speak to the other parents at school about where else the kids might go and gauge interest in a skate park. Townes agrees to follow the kids into the woods and see what they’re up to.

Zaragoza is irate about all the geese in the neighborhood and their droppings everywhere. Someone mentions geese love water; if there was a larger body of water nearby, perhaps they would simply leave. Zaragoza agrees to talk to the developer, who he knows from his legal work, about building a skate park and a water feature.

Townes brings the meeting around to the major problem facing the community: the recent disappearance of normal folks. He reveals that the father of his family has gone missing, and learns so has the friend of one of Ylda’s children. Zaragoza mentions that if a dozen people disappear, we can demand the state investigate rather than relying on the local police. We worry that state police might bring too much scrutiny to the area. Vedette suggests we publicize the disappearances, putting up flyers and signs, to scare folks into staying home and keeping their kids at home. It would help with the teens in the woods and maybe cut down on the vanishings. Along with these flyers, she will be putting up signs throughout the neighborhood directing people to her house because delivery people, who she depends on for her business, keep getting the addresses mixed up.

At our next meeting, Townes reports that the kids are out there being rebellious teens: smoking, drinking, littering, etc. Ylda says that the parents at the school are excited by the skate park idea, and Zaragoza says the developer is too. He won’t build a water feature to occupy the geese, but the skate park promises to be a big hit. We discuss whether and how Ylda’s family could hunt and drive off the geese, since the water idea fell through.

When we get back to the issue of the disappearances, Townes says he feels he must take direct action and plans on running away to begin searching for the vanished people. Vedette is concerned about him going alone and insists on accompanying him. Her psychic powers could be useful in finding and following clues, she says. Likewise, Ylda says that she can come to use her wolf-senses to get the scent and lead a chase. Zaragoza mentions he could release a bottled soul and ask them about the vanished, but makes no promise to do so. In the end, we all agree to meet the next morning after breakfast at Townes’ house to examine the family’s recovered car, then to follow the clues wherever they lead.

This is where we close the neighborhood meeting, and end our session. Could the disappearances be caused by a rival demon of Zaragoza, or aliens like those who took Townes, or some as yet unknown threat?