Mobland Archipelago

We dusted off Archipelago by Matthijs Holter to create a mobland story set in Chicago shortly after the stock market crash in the fall of 1929. There are three of us. Police Officer Jack, who lost all his savings in the crash. Jack’s broker is Lionel Bridges, whose brokerage is collapsing along with the market and is only a few steps in front of his creditors. Finally, Jack’s childhood friend is Tony, a mobster who runs the neighborhood, the local speakeasy and gambling dens.

Our story begins with Jack talking on the phone with Lionel because the bank is threatening to foreclose on his house. Lionel reassures him that the bank can’t possibly act quickly enough for him to lose his house; the bank will probably collapse first. The police chief comes in and orders him to investigate Tony; they want to shut the speakeasy down.

Down at his speakeasy, The Open Mouth, Tony is talking with Lionel and learns about another speakeasy that has opened up recently on the other side of the neighborhood, which shouldn’t be news to Tony but is. He tasks Lionel with finding out who runs the place. So, Lionel high tails it over the other joint and discovers that it’s run by the brothers who call themselves the Copperhead Gang. Unfortunately, he bumps into one of them on his way out, one who believes the crash is a hoax perpetrated by brokers to steal their client’s money. And he wants his money back now.

Next we see Jack meeting with Tony and offering to keep the police off his trail if Tony can help him with his money problems. He also tells him that Sam of the Copperheads believes in a conspiracy around the market crash. So, Tony goes to the drug store to confront the Copperhead brothers. When he mentions Lionel, Sam spouts off on his conspiracy theories while his brother, Giulio, leaves to find Lionel. Without his brother around, Tony overpowers Sam and leaves him inside after setting fire to the building. Across town, Giulio mows Lionel down in the street with a Tommy gun in a drive by. Then Giulio goes after Tony, firing indiscriminately into the Open Mouth and throwing Molotovs inside to set it ablaze in revenge for his brother.

Jack, having collected enough from Tony after his tip off, pays the bank off for his house but then hears about Guilio’s hit on Tony’s place. Shocked, he goes after Giulio alone, determined to bring him down. He manages to sneak his revolver into the Copperhead club and shoots Giulio but then he shoots himself. The camera pulls back from Jack’s dead body and stops high above it before the screen goes black.

End of the Line: Lucidity Alpha

In this week’s session, we tried End of the Line by April Kit Walsh from the StorySynth gallery, in which we play as the crew of an AI starship that is slated to be decommissioned and scrapped. We’re flying our ship, Lucidity Alpha, the first ship of their kind, to the scrapyard and preparing to say our goodbyes. Barnaby is a non-Terran health officer aboard the ship, in charge of our nutrition and wellness; Sian is the ship’s Terran pilot; and Coltin is the ship’s engineer who is half-Terran and has flown with Lucidity Alpha since the beginning.

During the flight, Coltin attempts to convince Lucida to allow him to download them onto a mobile medium. Lucida, however, does not believe they could fulfill their function or continue to be themselves if their consciousness is transferred to another form. Hurt by the rebuffing, Coltin grows suspicious and jealous of Barnaby as he perceives that Lucida is spending more time with Barnaby. Barnaby, for his part, sees Coltin as the least reliable member of the crew, blaming the deterioration of Lucida on the engineer. Coltin may understand engines, he thinks, but not how to nurture a whole being, especially one as complex as Lucida.

A starship with four engines, two outriggers to each side, flies past a world with light flaring off its edge toward the moon in the distance. The text below says: End of the Line, a storytelling game by April Kit Walsh. You are the crew of a sentient vessel on the way to being scrapped. Will you say goodbye?
End of the Line by April Kit Walsh cover image courtesy of StorySynth

Sian has long talks with Lucy while sitting at the controls, and comes to believe this is what they want, given the malfunctions they’ve been experiencing. We flash back to our last big mission, the one that lead to the Council deciding to decommission Lucida. We were surveying a planet at an important interstellar crossroads to determine the best place to erect a trading outpost. As we surveyed the planet, Lucida made some navigational mistakes (which Coltin detected and corrected) and then provided erroneous information on the planet. Those errors led to the building of the outpost in a spot that could not sustain it, leading to unnecessary deaths and the outpost being abandoned.

The relationship between Coltin and Barnaby is complicated not only by their conflict over Lucida, but also by their respective cultures. Coltin’s culture honors art above all else, seeing science and technology as remedial subjects with simple answers. Barnaby’s culture also frowns on technology but for a different reason; they believe technology should be subservient to the needs of organic life, which must be nurtured and addressed holistically. Each of them have come to see the shortcomings of their cultures’ ideas through their relationships with Lucida.

After the failure of the trading outpost but before the Council ordered Lucida to the scrapyards, we had one more important mission. We were exploring another world—a cold, rocky planet—for reasons we no longer remember. Sian climbed alone to one summit to get a better view and slipped into an icy crevasse, trapped and unconscious. After she failed to return, Lucida used her robotic drone to search for and find her, returning to the ship carrying her limp, frozen body to be treated by Barnaby. Many of us believe this shows that Lucida can still be relied on, can still make a contribution, but Lucida believes Sian almost dying shows they can no longer fulfill their purpose, that this confirms the Council’s judgment.

When we arrive at the scrapyards, it’s time to say goodbye and leave Lucida to her fate. While Sian is saddened to be losing her best friend, she tries to be supportive and bids Lucy farewell. Barnaby says nothing, wishing they could continue their journey together. Coltin, however, refuses to say goodbye, and refuses to leave Lucida here. Instead, he wrests control of the ship away from Lucida and takes her out past the scrapyards to a planet dedicated to preserving and studying history. Lucida One, being the first of their kind, is a living historical artifact, one that the archivists of this planet will protect and treasure. This gives Lucida a new purpose, Coltin says, to educate those who visit the archives. We feel confident the Council will allow Lucida to stay here, but will we face sanctions for having taken this action unilaterally?