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.
This week, we tried another online session of Fiasco by Jason Morningstar, but this time we used the Insta-Setup from The Museum playset by Angela M. Webber and Richard Malena and skipped both the Tilt and the Aftermath tables to speed up play. We chose to set our story during a school sleepover/lock-in at a science museum. Our collection of school kids include troublemaker Steve and his reluctant accomplice Ari (teacher’s pet) who need to find out the truth about a creepy teddy bear that keeps appearing all over the museum. Steve, who brings all the Lasers, doesn’t get along with Gregoria and all her Feelings, but Gregoria and her online BFF Katie are determined to get revenge for mean comments on the videos of their favorite YouTuber, costumer and cosplayer Corynne Thorn. Katie is from a different school but knows Ari and her brother Ron, who answers to Spock as readily as his own name, from summer camp. Katie carries a secret torch for Spock while Ari has roped her brother into playing the recorder to accompany her singing in an upcoming talent show.
Our story begins with Gregoria and Katie meeting in real life for the first time as all the kids are filing into the museum’s cavernous entrance. Gregoria has profiled Corynne’s bully online and believes that she will be able to identify her if they fly their fandom flag and watch people’s reactions, but when they watch a Corynne video, a teacher confiscates Gregoria’s phone. Next Steve visits Ari as the kids are setting up sleeping bags in the atrium and talks to her about the mysterious teddy bear appearances and how it moves about the museum, convincing her to assist in the search for it but agreeing to wait until after band practice. At band practice, Ari must persuade Spock again to participate, but he agrees when she reminds him about the extra-credit, so they run through her number a few times with Steve waiting in the wings to begin the search. After practice, Katie catches up to Spock while he’s in the Egyptian wing of the museum in front of the famed empty sarcophagus. Spock explains all about grave-robbers and other facts about the exhibit while Katie manages to flirt without frightening him away.
As Ari and Steve begin their search in earnest, they try to track the bear based on its previous appears, checking the Rocks and Minerals exhibit, the Egyptian room, and the Fossils and Dinosaur exhibits, but don’t find it until they go to the Air and Space room. Unfortunately, a teacher finds them, leading Steve to stuff the bear behind the seat of a plane, and carts them off to the administrator’s office, where Steve provokes the teacher to give him detention by constantly talking back. Gregoria shows up later in the same administrator’s office looking for her phone so she can confirm the online bully’s identity, but when Steve hears about her plan, he makes it clear that he thinks her whole plot is dumb—bullies are best ignored and not given attention.
The next morning at breakfast, Ari is talking with Gregoria about what it means to stand up to bullies and whether dropping laxatives in her drink is really the best way to teach her a lesson. Ari makes it clear that none of us think what she’s doing is right, but that we’d all support her if she wants to confront the girl and tell her how her actions are harmful. When she agrees, Ari lends Gregoria her phone to make the confirmation: the preppy-girl Karlaygh. Spock is sitting nearby and threatens to tell a teacher about their plans, but they convince him to back down once he understands that they won’t be playing any tricks, just talking. When Katie shows up and learns of the change in plans, it’s time to act because, as Spock points out, there she is. With the whole gang (sans Steve) behind her, Gregoria goes up to Karlaygh and confronts her on what she’s been doing online with Ari chiming in that these kinds of comments are wrong. Gregoria explains that Corynne is doing good in the world, raising money for charities and that when you attack her, you’re also attacking all those who love her and need her. Karlaygh tries to explain how she was having a bad day, but Gregoria points out the comments are on different days. Karlaygh backs down and says she’ll stop trolling for fun, but Gregoria says it’s okay to troll some people like politicians but regular people with followings don’t deserve it.
Later, once the teacher’s give the kids some free time, Steve leads the gang back to the Air & Space room where they find the bear but moved again, this time sitting in the pilot’s seat of a plane. Steve plans on cutting the bear open with his pocket knife to discover the truth but hears a small voice saying “No, that’s my bear” as he grabs it. Sitting behind the bear in the plane is a small boy about 4 or 5 years old, the son of a museum administrator who lives upstairs and often comes down to play in the evenings, even though he’s not supposed to. Steve makes him promise not to leave his bear around anymore so it won’t frighten the museum visitors. In epilogues, we see Ari freeze during the talent show, leaving Spock on stage to perform a recorder solo. Afterward, Spock thanks Ari for getting him up there and consoles her for not being able to perform. Much later, Gregoria goes to a meetup with Corynne and relates the whole story, but Corynne tells her not to worry about the haters and gives her a shout-out in her next video.
This week, we created the history of a forest in which various magical and supernatural creatures struggle to learn to live together beneath the vaulted canopy using Microscope by Ben Robbins.
Our history begins in a period of escalating conflicts between the various peoples when a forbidden child is born among the snake people, who are so long-lived that births are unusual and strictly regulated. This child promises to be a savior but none can yet foresee how. Not long after, Queen Uniqa of the unicorns and King Hip of the hippos marry and the hereditary Hippocorn Republic is born along with their first child. Shaka, the snake savior, becomes enraptured by the ideals this rising power embodies and joins the republican army under General Hiparth to become a great warrior. Decades later, General Hiparth deposes the monarch for interfering with the functioning of parliament but must seize personal control to restore order. The General rules the new Hippocorn Empire with an iron fist and begins by enslaving the gnomish peoples, who maintain their traditional parental gift to their children during the years of bondage by replacing gemstones with flowers trapped in amber. The forest spirits flee the Empire by going through their hidden portal to another realm. Meanwhile, the werewolves are rounded up into a ghetto to keep them from roaming the open forests, but the sprites create a black market to provide much needed goods to the suffering werewolves. Not long after anti-sprite slurs appear on birchbark signs in the forest, Shaka leads a rebellion to overthrow the Empire and defeats the emperox using a glove woven from hippocorn hair and weaponized with werewolf claws.
To replace the fallen Hippocorn Empire, a ruling council arises and determines in its first meeting that it serves to handle only those things that the individual communities cannot handle internally or that occur between communities. There is a bit of a controversy when two council members—the representatives of the gnomes and the mairmaids (air mermaids)—are found to be having an affair, causing people to question whether they were acting in the best interests of all. Gnomish weddings become famous and popular because gnomes invite everyone to every wedding and serve the finest foods. The Forest Council begins to collapse when the mairmaids become the Council hosts and monopolize power by moving the meetings into the clouds, where only flying creatures can participate, breaking the people’s faith in the council, which soon dissolves. With no council to keep the peace, the werewolves and mairmaids get into a dispute when the mairmaid lantern festival—a festival of lanterns filled with swirling smoke-filled bubbles and bright lights that ends with a giant rainbow lantern shining everywhere—disrupts the werewolf first-turning ceremony by throwing off too much light. Eventually, the two groups find a way to combine their activities and resolve the dispute on their own, which launches a renaissance of growing peace between forest creatures.
The Renaissance officially begins when now-old but still-vital snake person savior, Shaka, marries a werewolf princess, showing that different peoples can unite in peace. A group of malcontented hippocorns and sprites worried about the little folk being left behind unite in opposition to these events, but this does not deter the spirit of the age. The Spirit folk return and begin an art movement using diaphanous layers to create sounds, images, and sculptures known as Spirit Baroque that culminates in an enormous Woodstock festival where many peoples celebrate together. A new council forms after the festival’s success and the werewolves build a temple with a giant moonstone to commemorate this new period of uneasy peace. The sprites, no longer fearful of the new order, form an alliance with the centaurs. Elves and gnomes decide they can share a garden that they have both claimed for decades and build a compound together at the garden. In the compound, the elves teach the gnomes the magic necessary to reanimate the flowers trapped in their amber gifts, and together they populate the garden with these ancient flowers. The sprites begin creating fashion accessories out of castoff bits from various creatures, like hippocorn fur and mairmaid scales, showing off the beauty of syncretic art. Our history ends with the erection of a statue to honor Shaka after the end of their long, full life.
In our game of (Don’t) Cheat Your Own Adventure in the world of Illuminati University, you find a special card with your name on it that provides access to unlimited funds. You decide to head over to the casino to place impossible bets, where you choose to play the Poisoned Chalice in which you bet that your clone doesn’t drink the poison. When your last remaining competition finally succumbs, she claims you were cheating and dares you to drink from the chalice to prove you’re not using anti-poison. You grab the cup and quaff it down, which imbues with you mysterious energy and power, so you leap through the window and become a superhero fighting crime throughout the city. You’re surrounded by villains one day when your powers mysteriously vanish, so you convince them you can fulfill their financial dreams and withdraw whatever funds they request using the card of limitless cash. As they’re leaving satisfied, you choose to join one villain named Bryan on a sailing voyage around the world, where he tells his story and says he’s ready to go straight. When he’s arrested at one port of call for his past crimes, you decide to return to the casino where you get embroiled with the mobsters who run the place, but since you’re related to one of them, they don’t harm you. Unfortunately, someone in the casino realizes that you’re underage for gambling in this city, so they call the authorities. Before they arrive, you revive your superpowers and fly off to resume fighting crime. After weeks of crime fighting, your grades at school begin to suffer, so you decide to find someone worthy of inheriting your powers and taking over your crime fighting duties. When you call down the lightning to transfer the powers, however, the lightning not only transfers the powers but takes your life. And since we refused to cheat, the story ends there.
In For the Ungrateful City, we are a group of superheroes in an underwater city that will soon face an unprecedented threat. Zip is a manipulator of electricity who can throw lightning bolts, leading most citizens to admire and fear her, the champion of the city’s downtrodden. Mr. Clear, who can turn invisible and erect force fields, dreams of the city’s potential to bring the people of air and water together, but is saddened to see the reality of their interactions turning cruel. Freefall, a human from the surface world, first came to the city with his mother and gran when 16 so the pressure of the oceans could offset the outward pressure caused by the emergence of his telekinetic powers. Jala is a water nymph with the ability to control water in all its forms who some fear could be more dangerous than the threat the city faces, but most believe the city leaders have her under control. Finally, the city’s official protector is Courage, whose brother had preceded him in the role before dying on a mysterious mission that the city leaders have yet to tell him about, but he knows the city’s secret foundations. When the threat finally materializes, we each choose to defend her—Freefall to earn the acceptance of her citizens, Mr. Clear because he sees beauty in her potential, Zip to protect the common people, and Courage to protect his brother’s legacy and the city’s past—all except one. Jala turns out to have been the looming threat all along and uses her vast power to try to take over the city as her teammates stand against her.
Tonight we played Truth & Daring by Tim & Kristin Devine (a hack of Lasers & Feelings) about a group of kids who call ourselves the Tads and meet in The Tad Pad, a treehouse in the woods, full of walkie-talkies, camping gear, and fishing supplies. Our motto is “Frogs never croak!” and we mostly hang out at Toys 4U, a local shop. We are: Crystal a clumsy collector of all things whose determined to complete her Garbage Pail Kids set; Ray a dramatic artist whose always creating; Riley the mischievous new kid whose hand buzzer won’t be her biggest prank; Casey the curious woodsy explorer who plans to discover something, anything; Sal our would-be grifter seeking riches, honest or not; Joe the techie gamemaster with an extra set of dice and character sheets always at hand; Devon the daredevil athlete who wears a tracksuit and a small towel around his neck at all times; and Margaret our brainy nerd with her notebook of answers and several library books of info at the ready.
Our story begins with Casey, Sal, and Joe in the woods looking to show Riley the creature we’ve suspected lived there for years. After much tramping around and discussion, we decide that we’ll have better luck at night and agree for the whole club to sleep over together by the pond. Crystal has Devon and Ray over to her house to help her prepare for the sleepover, knowing her mom is over-protective. After recalling the messy accident when Ray spilled the Kool-Aid all over her kitchen for his spill-life, we decide that Devon must be the one to talk to Crystal’s mom about the sleepover, and Ray rushes out but bumps into Mrs. J on his way down the driveway.
That night at the sleepover, Riley wants a marshmallow roast, but we’re worried about starting a fire. As we talk about the creature, an amphibious thing with fur, Ray shows off his cubist rendering that may be cool but doesn’t help us visualize what we’re looking for. One of the marshmallows that we’ve tossed into the pond disappears, and we get very excited and begin tossing more marshmallows and watching them sink. Finally, the creature rises from the water like a great hairy frog with enormous bulging eyes and a taste for marshmallow. We lure it closer and Joe and Sal pet it, but is this a young one? What if its mother comes looking for it? We name the creature Marshmallow before it splashes back into the water. We all scramble to hide when we realize two people are traipsing out to the pond and beginning to walk around it in our direction. They seem to be two men working for the government who are taking readings of the pond; they notice an oddity at one point, something that will surely bring them back for another look in the future. Miraculously, they never notice us, not even Ray pretending to be a tree, and continue to move around to the far side of the pond.
The next day, back at the clubhouse, Casey and Margaret return from the pond with some strange-looking devices that seem to have been set up to continue taking readings. We decide we have to return them to the pond, but slightly sabotaged, but if we truly want to save Marshmallow and protect them, then we’re going to have to pull an even bigger prank…and get caught doing it. In a montage, you see us preparing our prank. Joe creates posters promoting our monster viewing at the marsh while Sal sells tickets to neighborhood kids for the viewing. Ray works in his studio creating an elaborate papier mache monster while Crystal collects fur and other bits from the forest for decorating the monster. Riley builds elaborate traps and create the right effect for viewers, including croaking sounds catapults to launch marsh muck while Margaret creates shoes for leaving fake monster footprints all around the marshes. Margaret also rigs up a way to set off the government scopes while Devon makes sure the grown-ups and other government goons find out about the viewing and show up at the right time.
We’re in the middle of our big show with the local kids when the government goons show up and see that the monster everyone is talking about is made of papier mache even if it does set off their radioscopes. Sal tries desperately to convince them that they owe us something for all this work, but they leave without arresting anyone convinced that they’ve been chasing our prank monster rather than a real one. After they’re gone, we all sit together out by the pond tossing marshmallows out to our friend and make a solemn promise never to reveal the truth about Marshmallow and to always protect it. Frogs never croak!
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’.
We played I’m Sorry Did You Say Street Magic by Caro Ascercion in this week’s session to create a magical and mysterious city called Xanth that sits at the nexus of time, with portals bringing people and technologies from throughout history together in a single place. The time-displaced residents mostly live in Timetown, whose raucous energy is contained by the disorienting technomagical barrier known as the Shift and whose residents ride the vomit comet more formally known as the Temporal Rail to loop through the ages. A would-be time autocrat is plucking dictators from history before their demise for storage in his Refuge, but his plans remain unknown. Under the city lie the Rimlands, a grim windowless land known for its oppressive heat and banging machinery and inhabited by the forgotten underclasses. Most denizens of Xanth would never venture there except for the Cavern of All Desires, where impish dwarfs drive dark bargains with ironic twists in exchange for your heart’s desire.
On the surface are the City Square and Merlin’s Place. The latter is the neighborhood where magical creatures choose to dwell, with its old-timey cobblestone roads and thatched roofed buildings circling the ancient silver tree with the glowing lantern fruit, Thornglow. Thornglow is protected by the Glow Guardians, a group of kindly pacifist monks who initially oppose a druid who intends to live within the tree. In the end, the mayor vests the druid to live in the tree, which doubles the Guardians’s workload as the tree becomes a tourist attraction once there is someone to see. While some make hefty donations to support the druid’s upkeep, others worry about the future of the tree and what political fallout will result from this change. On the edges of Merlin’s Place is the Greenwood, a mystical river through a forest where smugglers sell their wares in dynamic swindles and scams, including one incompetent scammer, Rusty McCrusty but better known as Krusty.
The City Square itself is the central meeting place, the hub of government and commercial activity. Everyone is always rushing away from you at all hours there (“No time to talk” they say). The central landmark of the Square is Poet’s Corner, with a massive domed roof and space for all to stand and voice their thoughts. It’s the city’s primary icon and where the mayor makes seasonal speeches from its famed forty-two steps. Tucked away nearby is the Last Lagoon, a quasi-legal speakeasy where protestors gather and “mums the word”. Toward the end of our night, the Mayor makes a major speech in Poet’s Corner about the city’s plans for the future, which leads to public protests about the druid, worries about funding for the Zenubian Archives, controversy between opposing sides on a proposed ban of duplication magic, Thornglow sensing the city’s unrest and releasing calming pollen and seeds throughout Xanth that may counteract the attempts of the time-displaced dictators to sow unrest and begin their push for power.
High above the city floats the land of Zenubia, which consists entirely of floating buildings and constructs, including the Little Garden, a park with multiple fountains and a stone path that provides a little serenity in the technological marvel. Tethys the promising business student leads a study group in the Garden for her fellow students. People may enter the wealthy Zenubian enclave by taking the ferry at Sun’s Reach, a sunny canal that begins on the surface but stretches into the sky. The Zenubian Archives are a multimedia library with VR interfaces to supplement the traditional tomes that hold ancient knowledge, but first they must tear their eyes away from the flying atrium that carries up through the entire building. The official archivist is Sumara, a dedicated historian whose eccentricity cannot hide her extensive knowledge and who thought she had secured enough funding for the Archive until the mayor’s speech put that in doubt.
This week we played Dawn of the Monster Invasion by Randy Lubin to tell the story of how Orangetown becomes overrun by ghosts and other spirits. We get our first glimpse of trouble when a crank medium holds a reading where many claim to have seen ghosts across the town, but one patron is especially irked not to have seen his mother. The performance quickly gets away from him as the audience peppers him with questions he doesn’t have any answers for. Next we catch up with the mayor of Orangetown at a press conference trying to dispel the persistent rumors about the strange happenings in the town since they broke ground on a new shopping complex at an ancient burial site. The mayor stresses that there is nothing to worry about, that everyone should continue about their business (Keep shopping!), that the missing firehouse is sure to be found soon, and that the town has set up temporary housing for anyone whose house has gone missing at the abandoned mental hospital and the drive-in theater where the axe murder took place all those years ago.
At a book signing with an entrance fee at the public library, a local author and serial cryer of wolf about paranormal phenomena peddles his new book and answers questions about the haunting hitting Orangetown and nearby municipalities. While the crowd doesn’t trust him, he insists that the danger is real. Then we join the Prepper Channel where we learn about the importance of an underground bunker and how to prepare for a ghostly apocalypse. If your bunker’s not underground, your mirrors covered, and your shelves stocked with months worth of canned goods, then you’re not ready, so “Stay safe, stay underground.” In town, the local grocer has decided now is the time to double prices, but the locals ponder out loud whether a riot might be a better solution. The grocer does make a few sales of “ghost repellant” but has long been sold out of dog food.
Next we join Kaylaug4gh at a protest where she argues that the town is racist against Ectoplasmic-Americans and how we must learn to stop trespassing on their land. Many people agree with the sentiment and discuss the rumor that this is designed to get increased Ectoplasmic-American representation in Congress, until we learn about the many mistakes the medium made with an online ghost kit and an over-mustarded sandwich. With the local response completely ineffective, FEMA leads a National Guard effort to evacuate the town and sweep out the ghosts. The gruff NG Colonel leading the operation takes questions from all concerned locals and remains unshaken as long as the choppers are on the way. Finally, the ghosts have taken over and demand that we flee or bow before their collective might, with one particular ghost manifesting before the entire town. While many agree to leave, others don’t want to abandon their homes and try to negotiate the degree of groveling required to stay. When the ghost demands to be left alone, FEMA agrees to make the evacuation order mandatory and begins moving folks out of town.
This week we played Archipelago by Matthijs Holter. We created a world where many sea people live in the utopian Shallows, human scientists have established Aqua Base Z on the ocean floor, and explorers tell of giant sea monsters that roam the Deep.
Our characters are Luna, a mermaid who wants to leave her overprotective family in the Shallows to explore the Deep and start her own business; Amber, a skilled doctor in the Shallows who lost her young child to illness years ago; Atlas, an explorer working out of Aqua Base Z who hopes to discover a new creature; Roy P. Hannigan, a deep sea diver looking for lost knowledge; Maren, a merperson helping humans and sea creatures to understand one another; Zimmon, an octopus-person mage concerned about the impact of humans on the environment; Ron Johnson, an excitable marine biologist stationed at Aqua Base Z; and the Violet Kraken, an ancient sea monster recently awakened from their slumber in the Deep Hole.
At a medical ward in the Shallows, Amber is distraught and overworked as children are falling ill from a mysterious new disease. Near the old whale ribcage, Zimmon greets the Kraken respectfully, while Atlas looks on from Aqua Base Z, confused at what he’s seeing. Later, Maren meets with Zimmon and the Kraken at the same whale ribcage, hoping to promote understanding between them and the humans, but the Kraken is annoyed at the bright noisy base and Zimmon worries that humans only study the sea to control it. Meanwhile, Roy is descending from his boat into the Ancient Drowned City, where he sees an entire chunk of continent has broken off and sunk to the ocean floor.
At Aqua Base Z, Ron and Atlas argue about whether the Kraken Atlas has seen matches the rumours they’ve heard about leviathan sightings, but agree that they want to do more study of whatever creatures haunt these waters. Maren meets with Atlas and asks if he has the Kraken’s permission to film them. Atlas asks Maren to negotiate on his behalf, which surprises them. Back in the Shallows, Luna has come to visit her family, who offer her a gift that is almost, but not quite, the conch necklace she’s been hoping for. Her parents want her to stay at home, but she learns about a rare plant found in the Deep that may help treat the mysterious disease afflicting the children and vows to go find it.
Just outside the domes of the Shallows, Zimmon and Amber meet to discuss the disease outbreak. Zimmon suggests that human pollution or even warfare could be behind it, but Amber doesn’t have time to track down the source. When Zimmon, using his magical perception, sees a pattern in the sick children that reminds him of the Deep, Amber resolves to go to the Deep Hole and seek the Kraken’s help.
As Amber is on her way out of the city, Luna accosts her and asks to go along on her journey to the Deep. Amber doesn’t trust Luna not to disrupt her meeting with the Kraken, but Luna gives her word, and her necklace as collateral. Maren agrees to translate between Amber and the Kraken, but doesn’t understand the urgency until Amber explains that her species has only one child at a time, not hundreds of eggs.
Roy finishes descending into the Drowned City and finds that the only building not covered in algae is an ancient temple covered in writing he can’t read. He takes samples and pictures of a mural that seems to depict an epidemic.
At the Deep Hole, Amber is awed by the Kraken’s size even as Maren translates for her. The Kraken says it remembers a disease outbreak like the one she describes, and offers information in exchange for making the noisy humans of Aqua Base Z go away. Maren keeps the details of this deal from Amber, but offers the Kraken information on the structural weaknesses of the base. Amber is torn between asking about the disease killing children now, or the disease that killed her child ten years ago, but decides the present is more important. The Kraken tells her the answers she seeks are in the Drowned City, near the Volcanic Vent.
Maren races back to Aqua Base Z and warns the scientists to pack up their research and get out before the base is destroyed. Atlas hangs around hoping for one last chance to film the Kraken, and ends up taking video footage of the Kraken destroying Aqua Base Z.
In the Drowned City, Roy is about to re-ascend to the surface when Amber arrives, interrupting his mesmerized study of an ancient writing. She begs him to help her, saying the Kraken promised her a cure was somewhere in this temple. Roy invites her to return with him to the surface, where they can contact a translator to decipher the writings from the temple walls. But when they arrive at Roy’s boat, they learn that Aqua Base Z has been destroyed, dashing their hopes of working with a translator there.
In the end, all our characters reach their destinies: the Violet Kraken has destroyed Aqua Base Z. Luna opens a B&B where Aqua Base Z used to be. Amber has found the cure for all disease, if only she could translate it. Atlas publishes the video of his encounters with the Kraken, but nobody believes him. Roy P. Hannigan has discovered lost knowledge, but does not understand it. Maren has helped humans understand the discoveries of the deep. And Zimmon meets an unidentified U-boat captained by a man named Nemo, who offers him leadership of an organisation that protects the ocean. The last thing we see is Zimmon and Maren sailing off to explore the deep.