Until We Sink into Secrets

During our last play session, we played Until We Sink by Magnus Jakobsson.

We are:

  • Martin, the hotel manager with a sunny disposition who used to be an activities director on a cruise line.
  • Ira, an adventurous pilot that did an emergency landing on the island as she became obsessed in her adventures forgetting to give her plane the maintenance it needed.
  • Cricket, the surfer who has been chasing the biggest waves. They heard of an upcoming storm that would bring the biggest waves in the world to this island and now they want to be here to ride them.
  • Bill, the hotel caretaker who is very handy but gets nervous around guests, and
  • Howard, the gossiping retiree who left a hectic career in journalism and is on the island to wind down.

As we play, ominous things keep on happening on the island. The first day, the only other guest at the hotel, a sport fisherman, is found dead on the island at the base of a cliff. Martin insists that there is nothing to see and that all guests should avoid the scene as the authorities are handling the investigation.

On the second day, on a palm tree behind the hotel, a message appears carved saying: “We Meet Again Martin”. The typically jovial manager starts acting weird and is suddenly hard to find on the premises.

On the third day, a seagull dies after eating Martin’s sandwich. While Martin freaks out about this and goes into hiding again. The rest of the guests discuss what is the best way of mourning the death of the seagull.

On the fourth day, Cricket finds a large bone at the beach while surfing. They bring it back to the hotel to show it off. Ira thinks the bone should be donated to a voodoo priestess in Wisconsin as she knows it will be put to good use there. Martin wants the bone gone from the island.

On the fifth day, two strangers appear on the island. They are rough, loud, and get visibly drunk as time passes. They leave eventually. This leads Martin to confess that the island is controlled by a Spanish cartel and they came to threaten him as they thought he had killed their esteemed guest, the fisherman, who was from an Italian organized crime family.

On the sixth day, the island sinks. The guests had gone to the cliff to see if they could learn more about the fisherman and Cricket to catch the biggest waves that were expected that morning… but the island sank instead and we are all now in a small boat in the Pacific Ocean, waiting to be rescued. Except Ira who is trying to pull her plane out of the sunk island… it makes a great anchor.

Behind the Magic Quest

We played Behind the Magic, by Randy Lubin in this week’s game session. We played as a fellowship of adventurers on a quest to vanquish an evil necromancer that was raising an army of undead dragons to destroy civilization.

Our characters are:

  • Ayla, the ditzy necromancer
  • Lance, the germaphobe ranger
  • Skip, the unconfident thief
  • Kor, the scatterbrained barbarian
  • Monty, the misinformed monk
  • Evodie, the persnickety tinkerer

Our story begins when Ayla puts a flyer at a local library seeking a group of brave souls to go with her on a long trip at see to reach the volcanic island where a rogue wizard has begun raising an army of undead dragons, which is not in concordance with the regulations stipulated by The Council of Necromany, where she seeks to advance in rank.

The fist order of business is finding a way to get to the volcanic island to face the wizard. Kor and Ayla go to the harbor to find passage to the island… but they end up buying a tourist riverboat. While it is sea worthy, it is slow, overpriced and requires beasts of burden to run the oars. The view and comfort from the deck cannot be beat though.

Meanwhile, Skip, Lance and Monty are procuring supplies for their voyage. Monty insists on getting rum and pinecones to use as navigation tools, Skip manages to steal a pair of oxen, and Lance promptly washes the oxen before bringing them into the ship.

Just before setting sail, the party makes themselves comfortable. Ayla is setting cute figurines in her room, the captain’s quarters, while Evodie is ensuring everyone knows what their chores are, is writing a list of ‘regulations’ to follow while at sea, and is checking the safety supplies.

The trip to the island ends up being safer than expected as the party manages to avoid a dangerous whirlpool near the island… but it takes far longer than expected, over 6 months at sea, as the pinecone and rum navigation system that Monty insisted on using is not effective, to no one’s surprise, and Lance keeps on stopping the animals from moving as he thinks it is necessary to keep all areas of the ship as clean as possible.

Eventually, the adventurers reach the volcanic island. They start trekking inland by foot, following the smoke plume blown by the volcano. Ayla gets distracted by a very cute lava monster and decides it would make a great pet for the party as it is so cute with its natural glow.

After a day’s walk, the party deems it necessary to set camp. As they scheme how to approach the wizard and the zombie and skeleton dragons they expect to encounter the next day (or figure what is the best way of taking care of a baby lava monster pet), an old vampire dragon that was nearby perched on a tree drools blood all over Lance, who faints instantly. Turns out there are four kind of undead dragons: zombie, skeleton, vampire and mummy.

The next morning, Skip, Kor, Evodie and Monty go up the volcano. (Whose smart idea was it to leave the necromancer and the ranger back at the camp when facing flying undead animals?!). As they approach the dragon’s den, they noticed they are being followed. Kor throws a stone at one of the shadows that is following them and it is a dragon that falls immediately upon being hit. Unfortunately, the party is not very attentive on their path and fall into an earth pit trap set by the evil wizard.

Monty then remembers that the wood spirits can be called to send a message. So he sends a message to Ayla and Lance via a dream to come rescue them. They arrive just in time as the evil wizard and the horde of geriatric undead dragons face them. Live dragons rarely die as they have really long lifetimes; the ones the wizard was able to raise all have severe mobility issues, acute arthritis and are no match to the party. The only real threat is the wizard with his spellbook. In a moment of unimagined teamwork, Monty throws the one book with all his knowledge, the Holy Bible, at the wizard, Skip catches it and quickly replaces the spellbook with the bible. The wizard was then unable to cast any dangerous spells and was quickly vanquished by the adventurers.

After another 6 months, our heroes make it back home where they are rewarded handsomely by the Council of Necromancy. Here the party splits and they all follow different paths:

  • Kor stays at the docks, waiting for the next boat that will take him on a new adventure.
  • Monty decides that he needs to go back to what he knows and goes back to his church.
  • Evodie wants to write a botanical medicine book with all the plants they encountered in the island.
  • Lance finally gets the ranger badge he had been wanting to get for so long. He then goes back to the island with Evodie to continue the needed research for the botanical medicine book endeavor.
  • Skip comes to the conclusion that he no longer wants to be in this line of work as it was exhausting saving everyone from themselves.
  • Ayla devotes her time to making the riverboat as cute as possible, giving it a complete makeover. Then she uses it to ferry people on a tourist trip to ‘Draconic Park’.

A Year in Review

It has now been over a year since the Covid-19 pandemic hit and changed our lives… and prevented us from meeting in person to play. Now that a year has passed, I figured it would be a good time to look at how our gaming has changed.

Changes in game selection

Since we have been pretty good about keeping records of the games we play in the form of session recaps, I was able to tabulate which games we have played since March 2018 when we started recording them in the Story Games Club website.

With all the data now analyzed, here are some highlights:

• 151 sessions recorded since March 22nd, 2018. (That is when we started writing the recaps.)
• 50 different games have been recorded. (Or more based on how you count hacks of games).
• The pandemic did not slow us down. Since the pandemic hit, we have recorded 51 play sessions as of the writing of this article (March 17th, 2021). Which is in line with the 100 sessions we recorded the 2 previous years.
• We have played Fiasco over 16 times… and I know we did not record all our sessions.

I did a quick comparison looking at the variety of games we played before and during the pandemic. The chart below shows you how they have broken out so far.


I find this chart very interesting as it highlights how we have adjusted to playing online.

Before the pandemic, we were able to try different games week after week, with almost 50% of the games not being part of the regular rotation. During the pandemic, this has reduced to less than 30% as a good amount of the games we played before are not easy to play virtually or require us to create special spreadsheets to handle the play materials needed.

Games like Fiasco and Companion’s Tale that either require a lot of simultaneous conversations between players happening during setup or that have card components difficult for us to recreate in Google Sheets have seen little play. We seem to have replaced them with games that can be run off a browser easily, like those that use the For the Drama engine or the Story Synth.

Intricacies of Online Play

When we started playing online, I was uncertain if we were going to play regularly as we were not enough players to sustain weekly games, and without a presence at a physical location with foot traffic like we had in the past, it would be difficult to recruit new players. Well, turns out that ended up not being an issue. The move to online play reduced many commutes, previous players that had moved away from the area were now able to join, and new players kept on finding us via Meetup. Our group has actually grown, and we consistently hit enough numbers to run two tables.

Playing online has had its advantages.

• No commute, so players from far away can join.
• Play session is shorter. We regularly finish before the 3hr mark.
• No ambient noise. Some of the places we used to play at would get very loud and would make it hard to hear each other or ruin some scenes. (Looking at you Irish dancers!)

But it has also brought unexpected challenges.

• Since we advertise publicly and are always open to new players, we need to be conscious of minimizing the technology required to play. We always have people join us with different hardware and comfort with technology. To streamline our playing, we have avoided using platforms that require creating accounts or assume that the user knows their way around their platform already. Spending the first 30 minutes of a session troubleshooting with the technology of a new player can negatively impactthe experience for everyone. So, Zoom and shared Google Sheet or Story Synth/For the Drama website is what we use.

• Games that require several conversations taking place at the same time don’t work well. We love Fiasco, but the setup becomes difficult as for it to shine one needs to take turns talking to players sitting next to one. Not a problem in person, but it becomes difficult online and makes the setup take longer.

• Once we have a spreadsheet setup for a game, it becomes very easy to run that game though. Final Voyage of the Selene, Follow, Palanquin, and Lasers & Feelings have seen more play than usual as we have them ready to go.

• It is time consuming to create a spreadsheet that works for each game though. The spreadsheet needs to be properly setup so a new player can follow along. (Designers, if you are reading this, can we get a Google Spreadsheet for playing your game as a Kickstarter reward or something?)

Next Steps

With vaccines now becoming more and more available and the economy slowly opening back up, it will be interesting to see if we can continue playing online or if we go back to meeting in person… or both? I guess it will come down to what kind of attendance we can maintain and if we can find convenient physical locations in which to play.

Compendium of Games We Play

Here is a list of games we have played at Story Games Club. Some we play more than others. Some are easier to play online than others.

Powered by the Apocalypse:

Lasers & Feelings & Hacks


Story Synth Engine:

For the Queen and For the Drama Hacks

For the Drama Engine:

  • For the Drama Engine
  • For the Case that Will Make the Headlines
  • For this Ungrateful City
  • For the Crown
  • For the Band
  • Around the Couch
  • The Lost Island
  • At This Precise Moment

Follow us into The Arboretum

Tonight we played Follow by Ben Robbins. The cities were getting too crowded for us. It was no longer possible to live a good life there. So we left the civilization we knew behind and found our way into a wild forest filled with tall, ancient trees. We are a settlement of over a hundred people and this place is our new colony, that we call The Arboretum.

We are lucky that upon reaching this area, Zack Granite, a survivalist that came to this area earlier, is actually eager to share his knowledge of the area and the know-how needed to survive without the comforts of civilization we left behind. The rest of us, are a little over our heads, but we are all excited for a new beginning. Leslie, the herbalist, is hoping to discover new healing techniques using the local plants and herbs. Shine, is very excited that we have left the issues of the capitalist run society behind and now we will be able to live in harmony with nature and one another. Edgar hopes that in this new environment he will have a strong connection to the land and will be able to spend a lot more time working an living with his family as he wants to setup a homestead.

After a couple of days of being in the forest, we decide that the first task at hand is to clear the land of the thick vines that grow in the areas where we want to build our shelters. Unfortunately, these vines are very tough and we do not have many tools with us. The night before we start the work, we gather by a firepit as we discuss our hopes of living here… and the logistics of the next day. We agree to divide the camp into two, one half will be in vine clearing duty while the other is in trench digging duty as we want to have easier access to water.

Edgar is working with his neighbor Jeane, who also left the city recently. They are trying to clear the vines in their plots and are surprised by how little help they are getting from the rest of the camp. Where is everyone? Edgar’s hands are all blistered and bloody from pulling the vines out of the ground. Yet, he is happy that his whole body is working and he is breathing fresh air all day and he has never slept so well,. Meanwhile Jeane, is regretting her decision of living the city and cannot stop complaining about all the hardships they are facing.

Meanwhile, Leslie is not digging an irrigation trench or helping the rest of the camp pull vines out. Instead, she is setting up her cave with a clay oven so she can create ceramics to sell to rest of the camp. While she is doing that, Landor, a photographer that has been taking photos of the area and the settlers, appears at her cave. He is excited to take photos of her and asks her to pose. Leslie is not amused and wonders how photography can be done in a sustainable fashion without the rest of the equipment that is needed. Landor confesses that he did bring with him chemicals to develop photos and he has a simple setup in a neighboring cave. Leslie warns him to be careful with that and to be aware of Shine as she will not tolerate having those dangerous substances at The Arboretum.

After six weeks of attempting to clear the land of vines, the land is still not clear. Many people in the camp kept on getting distracted by their personal projects and the sustained effort needed to pull the vines out of the ground instead of simply cutting them was never done. Exhausted and miserable, Jeane leaves the camp.

It is about this time that several people in the camp catch an unknown disease. At first they have a mild rash, but it is soon followed by blisters, swelling of the limbs and a light fever. But with limited access to water and the physical exertion needed to maintain ourselves fed in our rough camp, this is quite dangerous.

While at Leslie’s cave, Zach mentions that Shine has just started showing symptoms and brings her over so Leslie can get a better understanding of what the source of this disease might be. Shine explains she had been setting up a grey water system, had been weaving baskets with the vines, and had delivered food to the other side of the camp with twelve other camp members earlier that week. As Zach had had considerable contact with this group, he volunteers to round up all those that have the disease and be the quarantine leader while Leslie figures out the source and treatment of the disease.

Leslie then walks around camp interviewing people. She runs into Edgar who is fully covered in mud. He explains that he has rashes all over his body, but found out that the itchiness and pain goes away when covered in wet mud. Leslie is very worried as having all the skin and rashes covered in mud are likely to cause infections, so she brings Edgar to her cave to treat him.

Back at her cave, she is using different salves and herbs on different parts of Edgar’s body to see if any of them work on the blisters. And this is when Landor barges in into her cave again to show off the new woven baskets he has. He explains that he has kept on taking pictures of the camp… and noticed that the vines do not grow back in areas where he dropped the photograph developing chemicals.

After several trials, Leslie eventually finds a combination of honey and herbs that does cure the rashes and proceeds to apply it to the rest of those that are sick that have been under Zach’s care. The rest of the camp is now healed and The Arboretum starts to thrive… except Zach who received the treatment too late passes away.

Until We Sink into the Twilight

Tonight we played Until We Sink by Magnus Jakobsson in which we play the natives running a hotel on a small island slowly sinking into the sea and the guests who visit the hotel. We are Kalea the hotel hotel manager, Leroy an eternal backpacker guest, Ari Kovair a fading star celebrity guest, and her son Ralph.

Our story begins when a sports fisherman is found dead on the beach, within sight distance from Ari’s room. She is furious that as a Gold Member of this hotel she has to deal with such gross situation and demands to Kalea that she and Ralph get rooms on the other side of the hotel.

The next day, Ralph and Leroy go hiking in the island. The view is majestic and there is a lot of interesting fauna here. There is a lake brimming with colorful fish that is very captivating. Not too far from the path that leads to the lake, Ralph finds the shallow grave where the fisherman was buried. The word “swine” is marked with black paint on the cross. Later that afternoon, back at the hotel, Ralph tells his mother about it and she is more and more concerned about the state of affairs at this hotel. Kalea keeps on appeasing her by bringing her drinks and promising her of coupons for her next stay at the hotel.

On the third day, the hotel has lost radio communication as some pumps failed overnight and the basement of the hotel flooded. Kalea is all disheveled from spending all morning cleaning the basement.. and tending to her demanding guests. When Ralph complains about how his room has not been made to his standards, Kalea hits back at him by pointing out that she went ahead and cleaned his shirt that was covered in black paint. Ralph ends up admitting that he was the one that wrote ‘swine’ on the cross previously as he had seen the fisherman staring at his mother when they checked into the hotel earlier.

On the fourth day, the three go back to the lake area as Ralph has to go clean the cross he vandalized earlier. While doing that, he finds a wedding ring near the grave. Ari notices that a hand is sticking out of the grave and now really wants to leave the island. Leroy pushes the group to hike further out and the reach the Lemur Bridge from which they appreciate a great view of the island. Back at the hotel in the afternoon, the group discusses a twenty year old newspaper clipping they found under a sofa that mentions of a murder that took place at the hotel then in 2001.

On the fifth day, Ralph confronts his mother as he overheard her coordinating on the radio (which was finally fixed) talking about the wedding plans she had with her publicist. Ralph is annoyed that this was not ever discussed with him… and that she keeps on calling his dad ‘her publicist’ instead of using his name. By now Ari is tired of this island and convinces Leroy to charter a sea-plane together for the next day to come pick them up and leave the island.

But on the sixth day, the group wakes up to the island sinking. In the morning the water is up to their ankles. They make their way into a row boat with a broken engine that the hotel had. Shortly after getting onto the boat, the island disappeared beneath the waves. As we are stranded in the middle of the ocean waiting for help, a skywriting plane flies over us, typing in the air “Happy New Year 2001!”

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Follow us into Stardom

Tonight online we played Follow by Ben Robbins using the Show quest. We were a group of boarding house tenants that were putting on a show as a fundraiser to save their home. Our fellowship consists of Clarence, the washed-up former star; Imogene, a delusional wanna-be star; Victor, the insecure costumer; Leena, the amateur make-up artist; and Mark, the pretentious author of the play. While full of spirit and enthusiasm to put this play together, the odds are stacked against the fellowship as they have a very limited budget and no one has real experience putting a play together.

Our story opens with Imogene approaching Mark, as she is rehearsing her lines and has trouble following the plot of the play. Mark insists that the issue is her as she has not immersed herself into the story and that is why she fails to see the link between frogs, light, demonic comas and exorcism that the play revolves around.

Meanwhile, young Victor is sent to speak to Lady Winthrope, a renowned patron of the arts, to procure some funding for the set and for the costumes of the play. Lady Winthrope wants to know more about this production to see if she is interested in sponsoring this endeavor, however Victor, who is very shy and insecure, struggles at explaining what the play is about. Luckily, he does manage to convince her that the play is a very avant-garde performance worth looking into.

Back at the boardinghouse, which happens to be a dilapidated Victorian mansion, Mark and Mickey, the stage hand, are in the living room, trying to figure out how to create a set. Mark is obsessed with having a water element in the middle of the living room, I mean, the stage. He wants something grandiose, reminiscing of the fountains at Lady Winthrope’s garden. Mickey manages to procure a tub and places it as directed, even though he is worried about getting the living room carpet wet and moldy. Mickey also gives some good plot ideas to Mark to give more direction to the play, but Mark dismisses his ideas.

The next day, Clarence, Leena and Mark are going over the lines once more. Clarence is disappointed by the lack of action  his character sees during the 4th act. Mark reminds him that that is normal as his character is dead during that whole act and does not resuscitate until the 5th and final act. During the 4th act, he is supposed to only be off screen and howl from the grave at the end of each scene. Leena, who is filling up for Monica, suggests changing Clarence’s make-up during that act so he can be on stage… and she also does a great job at reading the lines, as she understands the game of light and darkness that the script calls for.

The next week, the troupe has to put together a rehearsal for Lady Winthrope as she comes to see the play. She is surprised by the very ‘creative’ decor that has been used to create the stage using drapes, mats and curtains based on what was available at the boarding-house.

Clarence and Imogene start the play with a very fiery scene where Imogene’s character demands more and more light… and Marilla who is backstage, obliges and brings her an ever increasing amount of candles. Clarence starts a monologue centered on darkness. But this is Imogene’s time to shine and she bursts back into the scene walking on a tightrope while holding candles on each hand and on her headband. The scene ends with Imogene falling into the tub, preventing any fire from spreading further.

Imogene’s balancing act

The play continues with Leena and Clarence doing the awakening from the demonic comma scene. Clarence’s character is using light to awaken Leena’s character. Light, sparks, embers, ILLUMINATION! She awakes! But the darkness has been too much and is no longer herself. The darkness has consumed her soul and can no longer bear the sight of the light. Darkness, shadows, obscurity befall the stage. It turns out that Leena starts improvising her lines instead of reciting Mark’s verbose ones making it more enjoyable and fluid.

In the end Lady Winthrope is not impressed by the show and leaves the mansion as soon as she can as she feels like she wasted part of her life watching this absurdist performance and got her fine silk robes ruined by the splashes from the tub. Mark feels betrayed and leaves the boarding-house, as word got out that the better part of the play was the portion improvised by Leena.

The boarding house closes soon after as its financial situation became untenable and the show without the backing of Lady Winthrope was unable to raise many funds. The fellowship disbands but the members move on. Leena finds herself drawn into proper theater and becomes an acclaimed mainstream theater actress. Victor finds a friendly soul with Marilla, the daughter of the boarding house owner. Imogene joins a traveling circus where she can further develop her acrobatic (and play with fire in a safer environment). Clarence embraces slapstick comedy and creates a public improv troupe. Mark continues working on his masterpiece and is constantly approaching local theaters and troupes to perform his piece.

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.

A Selfless Downfall

We got to play Caroline Hobbs’ Downfall at our first (of many I hope!) game night of Story Games Wilmington.

We created a community that lived in domes at the bottom of the sea, using steam as its main source of power. The core value of this community which made it prosper in this very difficult location was selflessness. People here had to continually put the group ahead of themselves in order to have enough to eat and to be able to build a community, so they called their world the Hope Bubble. The Bubblers had some very interesting practices and traditions that they developed through time to encourage this selflessness.

For instance, the most popular form of entertainment was swarm racing. People loved to attend or participate in these events. People would form into huge groups at the arena and then run as fast as they could together. Since participants were so close to one another, coordination and communication where key to keep everyone standing and not trampled by other team members.

One of the hardships that shaped the Bubblers the most, was the dearth of food available in this section of the sea. To solve this, the people from the Hope Bubble had to do regular sacrifices in which a person from the community would wear a bucket of chum as a necklace and go up into the sea to attract swarms close to the bubble. As the swarm devoured the chum and the sacrificed member, the rest of the community would hunt the swarm and get the much needed food.

But probably the most interesting practice this community developed was its form of government. To ensure there is never a conflict of interest among those in power, an Ambivalence Task Force was developed that is charged with identifying people’s interests so that they can then assign positions of power to those that have no personal interest to the realm they are assigned, thus guaranteeing that all decisions made will be selfless.

Ultimately, this ended up being the downfall of the community. While the system worked for a long time, it also lead to having people unqualified or uninterested in government who were not willing to make any decisions when the mail stopped working and the bucket of chum was never delivered. Despite efforts by some to encourage direct action without going through the government channels, the community did not get enough food and died slowly of starvation.

Until We Sink in Emeralds

We played Until We Sink by Magnus Jakobsson and discovered a family-run hotel on an island in the warm waters of the Pacific.

Photo courtesy David Stanley at Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

Just before we arrived, a fisherman was found dead on the beach next to a cliff. Marge, the hotel’s caretaker, wanted to hide this from the hotel guests. But her teenage son, Philip Bartholomew, wanted to explore and poke the body. The two hotel guests were Ethel, a gossiping retiree who kept talking about her love conquests back in LA, and Quentin, a charming, wannabe sun worshiper who wanted to teach Philip his ways.

We came to learn that the fisherman who was found dead was Frankfurton, Ethel’s boyfriend whom she was expecting to meet on the island later in the week. Eventually a proper burial was prepared for Frank’s body. Unfortunately, his headstone was vandalized the next day with the word “swine” written in black ink. There was a lot of confusion regarding who may have done it, since Philip’s calligraphy classes and Ethel’s peculiar makeup routine left both with ink-stained hands.

The next day, while serving breakfast, a seagull ate Ethel’s breakfast as soon as it was served, and dropped dead in the sand. After investigating, it became clear that it was poisoned. Someone had laced the maple butter used on the bacon to try to kill Ethel! It was obvious the poisoned bacon could not have been meant for Quentin as he was a vegetarian. While arguing with one another, Ethel figured out that she and Quentin were actually being targeted for murder by Jack, the travelling pastor who frequented the island and gave services via radio.

The next day, the island finally sank, and both guests and the hotel family found themselves on a boat. There we learned that Jack was killing people to prevent them from mining emeralds from the island’s cliffs, as there was a legend saying the island would sink if these emeralds ever left the island… and it was there we also learned that Quentin had filled his coat with the emeralds!