Lasers & Feelings & Smoke Brandy

This week we played Lasers & Feelings by John Harper as the erstwhile crew of the interstellar scout ship Raptor while our Captain is incapacitated in the ship’s medpod. Our crew includes Frostbyte, an android scientist who simply wants to know how things work; Ensign Chrissy Lewis, a hot-shot pilot whose mostly wants to keep flying awesome; Ambassador Sparrow, a savvy envoy out to learn about alien cultures; Sabik, an alien engineer more concerned with getting footage of xirself fixing things for xir social media channels than solving problems; and Mimosa Stardust, an intrepid explorer out to find (and punch in the face) new worlds.

Drawing of an alien with purple hair, the handwitten name Sabik and social media platforms to follow.

Our story begins with Sparrow sharing drinks with Mimosa in the ship’s lounge and discussing the upcoming treaty negotiation at their destination, Zaxtor, until Mimosa passes out on the table. Elsewhere, Sabik convinces Frostbyte to allow xir to dissect the android’s arm on a livestream. Later on the bridge, Chrissy asks Sabik about the strange behavior of Lt. Hastings when the Captain was placed in the medpod after succumbing to a strange psychic entity. Sabik decides to film Hastings to investigate. In engineering, Frostbyte asks Sabik and Sparrow about the fabled Star Dreadnought in the Lambda quadrant and learns about the sensitivity of the Quarg Empire on the subject, how travel near it is forbidden, and the wild rumors that it can affect the fabric of spacetime. Despite Sparrow’s many warnings, Frostbyte remains curious and Sabik is convinced that a trip to the Dreadnought would go viral. Mimosa, having overheard the conversation about the Star Dreadnought, convinces Chrissy to take a shortcut through Hive space to get to Zaxtor quicker in light of the happenings on the ship.

But the Raptor doesn’t make it through Hive space undetected and, in fact, is attacked by Hive ships, who, according to messages intercepted by Sabik, believe our ship is overrun by brain worms. Making the connection to the entity that incapacitated the Captain, Mimosa and Frostbite go to the medbay to investigate, and Chrissy keeps the ship and everyone safe with remarkable evasive maneuvers. In the medbay, Mimosa detects a strong, unfamiliar scent while Frostbyte sees Hastings acting strangely on the security footage but also confirms the footage has been tampered with and is missing key moments. When the ship refuses to slow and drop into orbit around Zaxtor, Chrissy realizes the ship is now controlled from the auxiliary bridge near engineering, and the group decides to rush auxiliary control. Mimosa’s attempt to shoot the door open fails and unleashes a charge of ionized smoke throughout the corridor. Sabik modifies her blaster to get us into control where we find Hastings in a trance-like state at the controls. We pull him away to discover the control interface destroyed with the ship locked into a collision course with the fabled location of the Star Dreadnought. Sabik backs up Frostbyte as best he can and hooks his systems up to the controls directly.

After wresting back control of the ship and restoring bridge functions, Frostbyte uses the Raptor’s superior sensors, once Mimosa has space-walked out to adjust the sensor array, to scan the ship’s interior for the brain worm infestation the Hive warned about. The worms, almost microscopic in size, are everywhere, including in us, but their concentration is lightest in the smoke-filled corridor where Mimosa had blasted us into auxiliary control. Surmising that smoke killed them as it would any brain cells, parasitic or otherwise, we realize we need to kill some brain cells of our own and fill the ship with smoke. Frostbyte uses his complete control of the ships ventilation systems to create a reverse pressure system to get to the holding bay before succumbing to the worms. In the cargo hold, Sparrow has secured an entire case of Arcturian smoke brandy, which we consume in great quantities until our brains are sloshed but clear of the brain worm infestation.

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.

Jump the Martian Shark

Tonight, we played a session of Jump the Shark by Matt Jones and created a terrible comedic sci-fi television show called The Lost Horizon about a restaurant in a mall on Mars. One main character is Xinta, a young Martian native fresh out of high school, who started the series as a naive, lost waif but who ended the first two seasons having found a purpose: making her love for Zoltan known. Zoltan is a hot young African-American human in his early twenties who just needed a summer job but came to love this restaurant and restaurant work because it brings him in contact with so many people. The fans love these two because who better to ship than star-crossed, cross-species lovers, especially when Zoltan remains so oblivious to it all. Our last main character is Sheila, a shy cashier in her late twenties, still living at home with her parents who forced her out of the house in search of work but who ends the second season as the store’s assistant manager. She is all grrrl power and the fans eat it up.

After season 2, however, the writers are all out of ideas and have turned to the roulette wheel of plot tropes to keep their renewed show going. In season 3, they throw a beach party on a planet with no water and have Zoltan crash it through virtual reality as his game leads his avatar into the party, where Xinta sits crushed that the real Zoltan never showed. The next episode has them all at work, hungover from the beach party and struggling to make it through the day, which leads to the live martian “lobsters” delivered to the restaurant running loose through the restaurant. Zoltan, in the doghouse with Xinta and Sheila, saves the day by luring the lobsters back into their box with cheetos. Later in the season, they switch from comedy to horror in a Halloween special when first customers, then Sheila, disappear. It’s up to Xinta to arm herself with a water gun to drive off the monster lobsters infesting the restaurant.

In season 4, we start with a magician entering the restaurant and wowing us with his magic that we can never figure out. Nothing appears on the security tapes to show how he does his tricks, but when we finally get him out and think we’ve got it all figured out, the lights turn out on their own. In a later episode, Xinta is waiting tables at two restaurants simultaneously, trying to impress another restaurateur, while Zoltan shops in the mall and watches her rushing back and forth. She keeps getting the orders mixed up and the new restaurant sends her packing, but Sheila has been covering for her and everything’s still great at the Lost Horizon. Near season’s end, we have a musical episode where each of us sings about our feelings. Xinta sings while opening the restaurant in the morning about her love for Zoltan. During the shift, Sheila sings about how she’s finally going to ask for the raise she deserves for running the store, but when she opens the door to the office at the end of the number, she says nothing and steps outside again. Zoltan’s song comes when he’s closing the restaurant and thinking about his day and how much he loves the restaurant.

In season 5, the crew gets locked inside the walk-in freezer so Sheila has to crawl out through the cooling system piping to engineer their escape. In another episode, they are on a road trip to Herby, the restaurant owner’s wedding, but they get lost when the car’s AI gets too sad to talk anymore and stops providing directions. Then a dust storm knocks out the car’s solar power, and when the storm clears, they learn that Herby has called off the wedding. Later in the season, Sheila goes to jail when she calls the police to remove long-time customer and major annoyance Cosmo but they get the names reversed on the paperwork and try to remove her from the story. Eventually, Zoltan and Xinta convince Cosmo to straighten it out with the police, but must promise to give him a job at the restaurant before he’ll agree to help.

In the final episode, once the show is finally cancelled, Xinta finally tells Zoltan of her love for him and he agrees to go on a date. Meanwhile, Sheila has finally been offered a chance to run her own restaurant by Horizon’s great rival and decides to take it. When the series ends, she closes The Lost Horizon one last time and turns the lights out as she leaves, saying goodbye. Will there be a Zoltan & Xinta spin-off?

Venturing toward Phoenix

Tonight we played Venture by Riley Rethal as a group of adventurers living in a seaside port defined by a rivalry between its school of magic and its elegant cathedral. We are Jacques the Bard, Grifter the Rogue, Lordan the Wizard, Tabris the Cleric, and Malcolm the Fighter.

After working through our distrust of one another, we discover that the youth of the city have begun spreading graffiti through the use of magical vials of blue liquid. Through trial and error, we learn that when ingested the blue liquid enables the user to spray anti-religious words onto any surface. Through further investigation, we discover that the magic depends on the trapping of the spirit of newly reborn phoenixes. Struggling to return the young spirits to their rightful place, we perform a ritual to learn that a phoenix nests across the narrow sea atop a mountain, and promise to embark upon a quest to find it.

Superheroic Archipelago

Tonight, we played Archipelago by Mathijs Holter in a comic book world of superheroes and villains with megalomaniacal plans. T Vanguard consists of team leader and time-displaced scientist adventurer, Prof. Anna Chronos; telepath and therapist at the Asylum for the Criminally Insane, Spin Doctor; tech-enhanced speedster and daughter of villainous mastermind Dr. Sinister, Nightflame; and STAR Labs’ experiment and super-strong hero, Crossfit.

Our story begins with Prof. Chronos leading Spin Doctor and Nightflame to examine a long-dormant volcano where unusual activity has recently been detected. They are attacked by a gigantic cyborg spider that Spin Doctor defeats by blocking the mental signals used to control it. At STAR Labs, Dr. Jones informs Crossfit that his body is rejecting the nanobots that keep his enhancements working, so his powers and system may not be entirely stable. After the volcano incident, Spin Doctor returns to the Asylum to extract the information he needs from one of Dr. Sinister’s minions and learns of a nuclear bomb being set within the volcano. Back at Vanguard HQ, Dr. Sinister sends a hologram into the room of Nightflame to taunt her daughter and Prof. Chronos.

The whole team storms the volcano, which is now covered by a swarm of mechanical spiders. Crossfit strikes the ground to create an opening for Nightflame to rush inside and disarm the bomb, but then his powers fail him and the group is almost overrun by the spiders before his powers return as mysteriously as they left and they manage to escape with the disarmed nuke. Afterward, Nightflame and Spin Doctor concoct a plan to draw Dr. Sinister out to unveil her true plan and learn whether she truly cares for Nightflame by putting her into danger that only Dr. Sinister can protect her from. When Nightflame explains their plan to Prof. Chronos, the Prof. protests but relents when she realizes that Nightflame will go through with it on her own otherwise, and they discuss Prof. Chronos’s incomplete calculations to enable time travel. Finally, Spin Doctor visits an underworld diner to try gaining access to Dr. Sinister’s lair, but once he gets inside the island lair, his powers are neutralized and Sinister’s minions easily overpower him.

Our story concludes with a frontal assault on the Island of Dr. Sinister where each of us is shot by a “disintegration” ray that actually teleports us away into confinement, where a Dr. Sinister hologram visits each of us in turn. Sinister tempts Spin Doctor with a helmet to enhance his powers allowing him to manipulate matter as well as minds if he will pull one job for him afterward. When Spin Doctor agrees and puts on the helmet, the surge of power allows Spin Doctor to read Sinister’s mind and learn that she is not Nightflame’s biological mother. Dr. Sinister offers to repair and restore Crossfit’s systems and powers if he will join her organization, but the straight-laced hero refuses. Dr. Sinister tries to convince Nightflame to give up her mediocre team of heroes and return to lead Sinister’s army in the new world order, but then Nightflame gets a psychic flash of the information that Spin Doctor gleaned about her true parentage. Nightflame says that she’ll never join with Sinister but will work forever to stop her schemes and bring her to justice. Sinister’s hologram disappears and lock on Nightflame’s cell clicks open. Prof. Chronos and Dr. Sinister bargain back and forth, Chronos pleading for her team to be spared unlike her original team, lost in the Hidden Lands all those decades ago and Sinister showing where her time travel research went awry. Sinister agrees not to kill Vanguard and Chronos agrees to test her time travel device by stepping through to the past before her original expedition was lost.

In the epilogue, Nightflame frees her teammates and, as they’re freeing Crossfit, and elderly Prof. Chronos appears with a cure for his condition and they return to battle Dr. Sinister, who escapes through a portal like the one that Prof. Chronos had disappeared through an hour before.

Palanquin for Two

Tonight we played Palanquin again, this time with only two bearers—the Bearers of Magic and Nature—to escort Princess Ulkualzi to her Aunt Baru’s home and safety. We begin, as always, in the kitchen with the Heir hiding from the sounds of the violent coup underway upstairs. The Hunter appears following a bear wandering through the halls and the Magister comes scrounging magical components from the kitchen supplies.

A dark-skinned woman in a cloak with an upraised hood glares off to the left in front of a fiery moon. Palanquin a roleplaying game of escape & trust is printed on the right side.
Image courtesy of Genesis of Legend Games.

As we exit the kitchen attempting to flee the palace, an animated suit of armor blocks our path, but the Hunter and his companion tear the suit apart and we escape into the surrounding town among the people. As we make our way through the market district, we find we’re being trailed by feral wildcats, but the Magister distracts with a light show that confounds the cats, allowing us to slip into the smuggler tunnels beneath the capital. As we make our way through this sewer, on the lookout for cultists and reptilian creatures, a shadow appears before us, barring our way. The Hunter attempts to make an offering of poisonous mushrooms, but the incorporeal being ignores him. The Heir, however, recognizes the shadow as the Weeping Lady, a ghost who haunts the capital, and calls upon the power of her station to command her to let them pass.

We emerge from the tunnels into the purple jungle with its alligators and places of divine power and native peoples. We create a makeshift raft to travel downriver, but a fairy known as the Tempest appears and the river becomes dangerous as a violent storm rises. The Magister asks the fairy to stop but the storm worsens as ferocious fish fall from the sky. So, the Heir rallies her bearers to row for shore where they quickly light a fire to ward off the wilds and protect them until the storm passes. As we begin walking through the jungle, a wasp the size of a bull flies toward us, but the Magister is ready with a malodorous spray that drives the creature away.

Finally, we come to the demon wastes, littered with broken bones and dark overcast skies. If we can find the right gravesite, we’ll have the instructions we need to escape the wastes and emerge into Baru’s lands. First, we must overcome the shadow poison that seeps into our bodies and souls. The Magister casts a protective spell that shields us from its noxious effects, but as we come upon the graveyard, we are attacked by zombie skeletons emerging from the ground. The Hunter and his bear try to fight them off but they keep coming in unending waves. The Heir begins a holy prayer for deliverance, but the zombies reach up and grab her legs and cloak as she kneels. The Magister must act to save her before it’s too late. His incantations bring forth a horde of fiery beasts that fly about and destroy the zombies to save the Heir.

In Aunt Baru’s royal chambers, Princes Ulkualzi offers Periani the Hunter, Master of Nature, her most sincere thanks and appoints Tanalor the Magister, Master Sorcerer, to a place on her royal council.

Microscope on the Stars

Tonight we played Microscope by Ben Robbins to create the story of humans venturing into the stars to escape the ecological disaster they had created on Earth.

Our story begins during the bioengineering crisis when Dr. Isabel Caldwell creates hydrocarbon eating bacteria that she uses to clean the oceans of spilled oils and plastic detritus, and the new genetic modification technology spawns a body-mod industry. But the HCE bacteria become a plague on our planet, destroying the fossil fuels that our economy depends on faster than we can replace it. In despair, Dr. Caldwell commits suicide after handing over her bacteria data. After this, humanity enters a period of limited resources when people return to small local farms and live a more sustainable, subsistent lifestyle. On these farms the Gratz family grows corn for the husks, which are bacteria resistant, and marry into the Caldwell family, whose youngest, Susie, becomes a famous singer.

In the Lunar Years, humanity begins to settle within the moons of the solar system, establishing Gratz station as the first permanent lunar settlement. L.U.N.A (Lyrical Universe Navigation Agency) tests an instant bio-dome project on the moon, and then humanity builds settlements on the moons of Jupiter & Saturn. Before long, the Great Migration begins, when humanity sends fleets of generation ships to distant stars likely to sustain life. The Luna gets separated from it’s fleet due to a navigation glitch and is lost. Another Dr. Caldwell discovers a habitable planet and joins a mutiny aboard the Phoenix when Commander Nikolai Luna refuses to allow anyone to explore or attempt to settle there.

Eventually, families do leave the ships and begin settling the planets they find, founding dome cities to protect them from the harsh climates. One enclave learns to domesticate creatures they call space whales, with a magical ability to bear untold burdens and travel through the vacuum of space. When a supernova threatens life on the new system, the people of Caldwell City escape with help from the space whales, which leads to the loss of technology and technical know-how, as life among the space whales takes on a clannish nature. People have already begun to learn the songs of the whales before the various clans join in a great Conclave to reunite and bring order to the disparate human diaspora.

Our story ends as humanity begins to settle together on a New Eden, a planet in which they can live without their technological protection, but under the sky as their ancestors did. The children learn epic songs telling how humanity, and their own families, came to New Eden, and a shrine is built to Dr. Isabel Caldwell, the primeval god who set in motion humanity’s liberation from technology.

No Casino Boundaries

Tonight we played No Boundaries by Marc Hobbs in a bookstore inside the Luxor casino in Las Vegas. We arrive in the morning for New Year’s Day and commiserate about our evenings. Aspiring model and store cashier Nick had gone to a swanky party. Former soccer pro and store gift wrapper Raul had stayed in watching a replay of an old Man U-Chelsea match. Ivanna, the store’s storyteller and a would-be YouTuber, had stayed home with her family. Secret revolutionary and cashier Beatrix had spent the evening monitoring the police scanner. And receiving clerk and weight-lifter Xander had gone to a working class party with the other gym rats.

We start the year off learning that corporate wants us to push a membership card program with the national winners for best sales winning an all-expenses paid trip to Vegas for an awards ceremony. In preparing the store for sales, Xander pumps boxes of books over his head helping a store shelver to create book displays above the shelves. Beatrix spends her breaks complaining about the capitalist inanity of the program, but Ivanna convinces her that they should promote a Book Con to improve sales. Raul convinces Nick and Xander to create a viral video of them wrapping books as a way of promoting the memberships. Nick and Beatrix keep escalating their sales techniques with one shopper who is looking to get a Harry Potter book for his daughter and eventually sells him 10 cards for less than the price of one. And Ivanna can stop chattering about how beautiful Nick is while they put up displays for Book Con together.

Red stick figure stands in front of bookshelves loaded with book with section heads stating "Business" and "Failure".
Image courtesy of Less Than Three Games from Itch.io

Corporate’s next big idea is to cut down on expenses as they start charging employees for using electricity and toilet paper and clamping down on bathroom breaks. Beatrix starts off complaining with Ivanna and Raul about the new rules, but Raul shrugs it off by suggesting they use his wrapping paper or pages from old paperbacks instead. Nick goes out to the loading dock and takes a workout break with Xander, and they share their concern for the well-being of everyone under these new rules. Ivanna catches Raul taking her lunch again after a smoke break and, after much debate, agree to split and share the meal prep, with Ivanna taking the first month and Raul the next. Raul next goes to talk to Xander honestly about how upset he was when Xander wrestled him to the floor because he’s still rehabbing his knee and hoping to return to the pitch.

Before Raul has to cook any meals for Ivanna, the store closes down and everyone goes their own way. Before we do, Beatrix confesses her secret desire to become a modern-day Robin Hood and bring down the capitalist swine who run the casinos. Ivanna ends up on unemployment, crying at home. Raul returns to soccer as best he can. Nick decides he needs to improve his legs if he wants to make it as a model and joins a gym for some legwork. And Xander sneaks off with a couple of boxes of books that he sells for money to throw a beer party on New Year’s Eve.

For the Crown

In the Amago nation, Queen Diana has ruled over these forested hillsides and valleys riddled with gold and silver mines for several decades. In recent years, she’s suffered from the corona genetic defect that afflicts her bloodline and several figures vie for position to succeed her. Sir Reginald has been the chief administrator for Her Majesty and been running the country for a few years as the Queen convalesces. A member of a reptilian species named Leona claims to share an ancestor with the Queen and to be free of the genetic defect that afflicts the Queen. The Queen’s uncle Joe King has served as her jester but is of the royal line and never showed signs of the genetic disease. The Queen also has a much-younger adopted brother named Minos who has just returned triumphant from a far-off war.

Screenshot of For the Crown game page with description of the game.
Image from For the Drama.

Our story begins with Sir Reginald arranging a carriage accident in the forest to kill Joe King, but he survives and now knows to fear Sir Reginald’s power. Joe is resentful of Minos for having taken the ancestral sword that Joe once wielded with him to the war, but that doesn’t stop Minos from bringing the three of them together to conspire against the reptilian Leona. The trio plan to have the Queen send her into the far northern mountains to get rid of her. Leona left her family behind to serve the Queen and often regrets life in this cold place, but knows that if she can regain the throne for her people that it will all be worth it. Minos learns that Leona plans to rule alongside humans when he converts the high priest who had been her ally to his cause.

In retribution for the assassination attempt, Joe King forges an alliance with a neighboring kingdom to undermine Sir Reginald by disrupting the trade routes and raiding our caravans. Sir Reginald is too busy running things to spend time with the Queen or notice the machinations around her. Leona argues that the matrilineal line must not be broken, but Minos counters that times have changed and so can our traditions. Minos hides his guilt over the death of the Queen’s son, who should not have fallen protecting him. Joe was long the Queen’s favorite at court because he was so jovial, but he made too many jokes about regicide and the Queen became more enamored of the chef who cooks such delicious food for her. Leona spends much time reminiscing with the Queen about her visits to the reptilian homeland far to the south.

Reginald moves again and frames Minos for failing the protect the ore shipments raided by Joe’s ally. Joe’s rivalry with Sir Reginald goes back to their youth when a stupid mistake on a trade mission costs Joe’s brother his life. Leona makes a bold move by kidnapping Reginald’s niece and forces him to teach her the affairs of state. It’s been so long since the people have seen Her Majesty that they believe Sir Reginald holds her hostage, but he allows it to keep her illness a secret. Joe remains resentful toward Minos for his military experience and grandeur, but Minos refuses to return the royal sword to Joe because it belongs to the crown and not to any particular wielder.

Leona believes that the kingdom is in decline since the Queen fell ill. Joe appoints the physician attending the Queen, but cannot bring himself to ask the doctor to hasten her death. Minos seeks an alliance with Joe to support his claim since they two are the only true relatives of the Queen vying for the crown. And at last the Queen passes, and each of our contenders makes their moves. Sir Reginald tries to continue manipulating the levers of power as if nothing has changed, Leona makes an impassioned plea based on her people’s legends and family tree. Joe just wants to a power player and supports Minos’s claim. And Minos plays the war hero and rallies the people and military to proclaim his name. He assumes the throne and becomes the new ruler.

On the Selene Archipelago

This week we played Archipelago by Matthijs Holter on the planet Mylar, which lies on the route of the Selene from Final Voyage of the Selene. We are Rosie Carson, aka The Peddler, an archeologist and criminal trader in relics who provides information to Hanz Burton a detective newly arrived on Mylar to investigate the death of local politician Fil Dash, uncle of Alen Dash, whose family and local pride lead them to guide the many tourists who visit the Cliffs, which has a view into the interstitial spaceways.

In Act I, the Peddler Rosie Carson meets with Hanz Burton at the Red Carpet Lounge after his arrival on Mylar via long-range pod. They discuss the plans for Mylar to become a trade hub and who might benefit if that were disrupted. Detective Burton next goes to Heaven’s View resort at the Cliffs to question Alen Dash about their uncle’s death. Uncle Fil had fallen, somehow, through the rift into interstitial space, but before that had been staying at the Margle Mansion near the Salt Sea. Alen Dash next goes to meet Prof. Carson at her Argos University office to discuss Farthing’s theories that the Cliffs were constructed by the Ancients who once lived on Mylar and built the sleek Monument where archeologists continue to dig and investigate.

In Act II, Detective Burton serves a warrant to the head of community security to gain entrance to the Margle Mansion. He learns that Margle Enterprises is the largest company and employer on the planet, finds the body of Mr. Margle with its throat slashed, documents related to his business and real estate dealings, a torn flag of Mylar, and a one-way ticket for the Selene. Next, Alen Dash finally visits the Monument, aided by Prof. Carson. They notice that the monument profile resembles the Cliffs themselves and find a hidden button activated by Alen’s Mylynial DNA. Walking down the seven-sided tunnel to a broad chamber, they discover a song engraved on the walls in an ancient Mylynial script and an oversized ocarina sitting on a pedestal. Finally, the Peddler is approached by a Consortium capo to serve as smuggler getting the goods from a planned heist onto the Selene and into the care of Lt. Kazarian. To ensure loyalty, the Consortium shows Carson live footage of goons outside her parent’s house and imply something could happen if she steps out of line.

In Act III, Detective Burton again meets with the Peddler Rosie Carson to put all the clues together. Uncle Fil and Margle were working to make Mylar a central trading hub but couldn’t get the Selene to take their Mylenium nuclear power generator onboard. They had tried to secure an alternative shipper to make a stop at Mylar when they both turned up dead. Burton is convinced that the local police are working with the crew of the Selene to maintain the Selene’s monopoly on Mylynial trade. Later, the Peddler Rosie Carson goes on the heist job, prepared to transfer the cargo to the Selene, but something goes wrong. The building bursts into flames, the crew comes stumbling out with the prize, and they all go careening through the streets trying for the spaceport but crash along the way. Rosie barely escapes with her life. Finally, Alen Dash arranges the Ancient’s song to be sung by a choir while they accompany on a replica of the Ancient ocarina. As the choir sings and the song echoes across the Cliffs, the entire edifice begins to rise into the sky. The Cliffs are, in actuality, the full size version of the device which the Monument of the Ancients is but a model.

The Google drawing of our map with the large monument replacing the Cliffs.

In the epilogue, we each go our own way. Hanz Burton finally leaves Mylar as a bartender aboard the Selene. Rosie Carson tries to cover her tracks and make everyone believe the Peddler died in that crash. And Alen Dash continues to study the history of their planet and the newfound controls for the rift to interstitial space that reside in the full-size Monument that was once the Cliffs.