Truth & Daring & Appleaches

We returned to Truth & Daring by Tim and Kristin Devine in this week’s session as a group of kids living in rural America, determined to succeed and shake off the dust of this small town. Our crew includes Aveline, an upper-middle class collector with a love of emeralds; Gonzo, a curious kid from the city who loves exploring the strange detached houses in town; Hina, a very shy girl who aspires to overcome her stage fright and audition for a play; Michelle, a brainy new kid with a love of tools; and Cassie, a scientific girl whose goal is to win the science fair and the scholarship that will let her escape. Together, we comprise the Future Millionaire’s Club, who meet in Hina’s family barn.

Our story begins when Gonzo shows up at the clubhouse carrying a photo with a strange-looking blur in the bushes in front of a house with a porch. He borrowed the picture from the house of the Magician, a game warden who has a habit of appearing and disappearing without warning. Cassie and Aveline recognize the Petry farmhouse in the photo, and Aveline raves about the delicious lemon-apple jam and pies the family have been selling at the market lately. Hina and Michelle think the picture looks like an alien, but it’s not clear enough to know for sure. Aveline leads us in a discussion of what we know and what we need to do. We decide to lure the Magician away from his house, so we can sneak in and loo for more clues. Hina will call and use her voice distorter to sound like an adult saying an animal is caught in a trap across town. Michelle will create that fake trap to look broken and will sprinkle fake blood around to make him think the animal escaped.

Once they have finished their work and the magician has left, Cassie and Gonzo sneak back in by crawling under the house and up through a loosened vent. They discover more pictures hidden in a desk drawer, one especially clear and close-up. It looks similar to a rabbit, but is clearly alien, covered in fur with enormous eyes and strange antennae. On the desk is a map marked with a circle around the Petry farm and the words “strange apples” written in ink. As the two shimmy out from under the house, the pin Cassie wears on her hairband falls off.

Pink three-eyed fuzzy alien looks intently at POV camera.
Picture by Sebastian du Toit from his Artstation.

When we can, we visit the Petry farm. Aveline buys some peach apple jam and discovers that the fruit seems to be neither peach nor apple but somehow both. We decide to investigate the tent behind their barn, where we find seven small trees tended by aliens like the one we saw in the photograph. We see one bury blueberries and strawberries together in a hole, sprinkle something from its antennae, then a tree sprouts up in seconds covered in blue strawberries. Determined to study this fruit for her science project, Cassie snags an appleach and eats a blue strawberry that Aveline picks. Since Cassie seems okay, Michelle eats one too, but soon after, the two of them get incredibly sleepy and lay down for a nap. Aveline and Gonzo drag the two outside and wakes them with water. The whole time, the aliens seemed friendly or indifferent to us. Over the next week, we each prepare ourselves for whatever comes next. Michelle buys a Polaroid camera. Gonzo spies on the Magician and sees him making cages. Aveline avoids the rest of us but returns to the farm several times. Cassie carries through with her experiments and analysis of the fruit. Hina is rehearsing to maybe audition for the school play.

When we arrive back at the farm and enter the tent, we discover Aveline already there with the aliens! On her trips this week, she has guided the aliens into creating a fruit tree that grows emeralds. But before we can sort it out and get our pictures of the aliens and their work, Gonzo warns us the Magician has pulled up in his truck. He sets up cages and traps at the tent entrance and comes around to flush the aliens into his clutches. Gonzo goes outside to sabotage his truck, while Aveline and Michelle interrupts him, take his picture, and try to scare him off for trespassing. As we’re arguing with him to get him to leave, the aliens become agitated and the grasses and vines grow at exponential rates, pushing us all, including the Magician, out of the tent. No matter how hard we try, we’re not getting back in today. When we return the next day, the aliens seem to be gone, so we donate our alien fruit to the Petry family, so they can grow the special trees. It may take a lot longer now, but they’ll be able to keep the farm afloat.

Counterfeit & Daring

In this week’s session, we returned to play Truth & Daring by Kristin & Tim Devine, this time as a group of high school freshman in a club they call the Seekers. Our clubhouse is a tent pitched in someone’s yard. We are Minx, an expert Game Master whose always ready to get a game on; Daren Steele is a sneaky actor convinced he’s on his way to becoming an international super-spy; Gina, a curious explorer, who uses her binoculars for more than just watching birds; and Ben the mischievous collector of rocks, minerals, and fossils.

We begin our story with Daren walking to the clubhouse and telling Ben that he believes senior Paige seems way too old to be a teenager and that she spends a lot of time in the new principal’s office. After Gina and Minx join them in the clubhouse, we decide to spy on Paige and the principal to discover what they might be up to. Watching Paige and her boyfriend at drama club while painting scenery, Ben tells us about someone using the shop’s printing press at night and decides to investigate further. When he sneaks to the shop, he spies the principal operating the press to print sheets of money, Paige cutting the sheets into individual bills, and another senior wrapping and boxing the bills into “Art Supply” boxes.

We decide the grown-ups will never believe us unless we get some real evidence, so the next night Daren hides himself inside the room. Paige is watching with her binoculars from across the street. On her signal, Minx pulls a fire alarm elsewhere in the school to distract the criminals long enough to come out of hiding, grab some bills, and run away. Paige gets the license number of the van that the seniors were loading the boxes into. We take the evidence to the police, who surprisingly believe us. They track down the criminals and bust the counterfeit ring. Turns out the principal was wanted and we earn a reward for his capture. Minx uses the money to buy a copy of Hidden Kingdom, an Arthurian game she’s been wanting. Daren gets a fingerprinting kit, and we all get new bikes and a commendation written up in the paper from the police. One of the investigators even tells Daren that he showed a lot of promise and gives him her card so he can reach her later.

Truth & Daring & Moths

This week, we played a spooky session of Truth & Daring by Tim & Kristin Devine of Dice Up Games. We’re all sixth graders and members of the Explorers, a club we formed to encourage us each to “Blaze a trail!” We use an old, rusted out van at the edge of the woods outside town as our clubhouse. The group includes Cat a daredevil and actor who never goes anywhere without her Swiss army knife; Kyle a brainy kid who loves climbing and geology and carries ropes, pulleys, and a compass in his oversized backpack; Fronto a wannabe athlete whose two left feet have kept them off every team they’ve tried out for; and the new kid in school, Agatha, who is timid and has been homeschooled and sheltered by her parents.

Artists impression of the Mothman
Image courtesy Wikipedia.

Our story begins with Kyle and Fronto talking about this crazy prank that someone pulled at school with all the sports equipment thrown all over the gym. Agatha is lurking nearby but doesn’t approach until Cat shows up and drags her into the group, and we convince her to join us at our clubhouse. At the clubhouse, Cat is talking about the Mothman that her brother saw off Route 29, and we all agree to pretend to be staying over at each other’s houses but to go camping out to look for the mysterious Mothman. Agatha thinks it’s all talk until the group shows up on Friday and drags her into the woods. We’re all hanging out around the fire and talking when someone spots the distinctive glowing red eyes of the Mothman, but it flies off, and we’re unable to find it again.

The next week, we’re staking out the school trying to catch whoever is pulling the pranks that have continued at school, but instead we spy the Mothman breaking in through the back entrance. We follow him as he tears through the school until he gets to Mr. Harper’s science lab and see him struggling to get into the mineral display case. We offer to help him and give him paper to draw what he wants, a stone. Laying out the stones from the case, he takes the slab with fern fossils on it then turns to leave, gesturing to us to follow. He leads us to an abandoned factory where there is a kind of lab set up. The Mothman places the slab into an apparatus, hooks it to electrodes, and flips some switches, causing a cascade of lasers to begin firing at the slab. Quickly the lasers chip away at the outer layer of the slab, revealing a crystal inside that refracts the light around the room into a series of carefully placed mirrors that converge upon the Mothman.

We watch the Mothman transform before our eyes into a human woman, who introduces herself as entomologist Dr. Robins and explains how her experiments with moths backfired and accidentally transformed her. Not long after, back at school, Dr. Robins becomes our new science teacher, and some of us have questions about whether we might want to conduct those experiments again.

Truth & Daring about Aliens

This week we played Truth & Daring by Tim & Kristin Devine of Dice Up Games as an alien-obsessed all-girl club called the Little Green Meenies whose clubhouse is an old shack at the entrance to an abandoned mine outside a small desert town in the American Southwest of the 1980s. We are Marley Davis, a tomboyish bookworm seeking to top the local library’s summer reading board; Janie Stone, the new kid who just wants to be helpful and make friends; Dena Gertler, an explorer with various home-made gadgets who wants to use this summer to finish mapping the abandoned mine; and Flair Cooper, who sneakily collects samples of hair from everyone she can for use in making Victorian hair art.

Victorian Hair Wreath photo found on National Geographic.

Our story begins with Janie’s arrival in town, with all the neighborhood children coming by to see the new family and help out with unloading, but we quickly get distracted by Janie’s comic books. After much discussion, Janie agrees to let Flair take a sample of her hair to prove that she’s not an alien so she can join the club. A few weeks later, we’re all hanging out at the clubhouse when Marley comes in breathless, having overheard a group of men in the library discussing smuggling alien tech from the military base through our mine, and the group agrees to search the North fork that run closest to the base. In the tunnel, we spend a lot of time talking about our fears (the dark? spiders? lobsters?) until we come across the criminals discussing their plans in more detail, taking uniforms and ID cards from their inside contact, and the plan to move “the stones” through the mine until they can configure them to open the portal.

Back at Janie’s house, we marvel at how awesome her room is with a mini-fridge, tons of comics, a television and VCR; she must be well-loved, probably because she was sick when younger, leading her parents to indulge her. After abandoning trying to collapse or flood the mines, we realize the only way we can stop the criminals is by getting the police involved, but know they’ll need more than our word for it. We return to the North fork and Flair slips out to take a hair sample from one of the criminals but is caught by them carrying one of our walkie-talkies with the mic taped open. The rest of us run to the police to tell them about Flair being kidnapped and use the sounds coming from the walkie-talkie to convince them this isn’t a prank. We lead the police into the mine tunnels and catch up with the criminals returning with the stolen “stones” and Flair tied up in the corner. The police make the necessary arrests and we see the military arrive to take over the investigation as we’re driven away by one of the deputies.

In epilogue, we see Flair getting a job at the local beauty salon cleaning up, which aids her in her collection activity. Marley easily wins the library’s contest as she spends the rest of the summer researching the alien “stones” and takes home a big alien poster as her prize. Janie gets a new game system and she and Flair get close after Flair uses her salon money to buy some fun games and spends lots of time over at Janie’s house. Dena spends most of the summer taking long hikes on the mesas outside of town since the mines are off-limits as a crime scene.

Truth & Daring: Never Croak!

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.

Hand drawing of some members of our group, including the creature in the water.

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!

Truth & Daring & Meteorites

Tonight we played Truth & Daring, Tim & Kristin Devine’s hack of Lasers & Feelings as a group of nerds and geeks called the Gravity Gang. We are the adventurous new-kid-in-school Juliet; trouble-making, brainy science kid, Mack; cautious geologist rock collector, Brian; daredevil inventor, Jet; straight-A theater kid, Steve; and serious, ambitious team-leader, Ines. We each wear a pocket protector with the atomic symbol on it and meet in a treehouse in the woods behind the school outfitted with all manner of tools and a special puzzle box to keep our secrets safe.

Sale flyer for Truth and Daring game stating its for fans of Goonies, E.T. & Stranger Things. Made with love and laser feelings by Tim & Kristin Devine.
Image courtesy of DiceUp games via DriveThruRPG

Our story begins the week before school starts back when we’re hanging out in the treehouse discussing Jet’s recent findings when a loud thunk sounds and the tree begins to sway. A meteorite has struck it, but Jet soaks it with his super-soaker putting out any possibility of fire. Juliet touches it and declares it ice-cold, but there seems to be no way to get it unstuck from the tree. Next week, in gym class, Mack excitedly tells us about overhearing Vice Principal Smith discussing the meteorite falling to someone in conspiratorial tones and their plan to retrieve it later today. We decide to hide the gem as best we can and create a fake crater to fool the VP. Juliet, Mack, Brian, and Jet skip their next class to complete the trap but run into VP Smith when returning to school. He challenges us about being absent, but we bluff our way back to class.

Later, we meet at Brian’s house to discuss the tests he’s been doing on a small sample of the rock he took and learn that when electrified it phases through the table, but Brian warns that too much energy causes it to explode. While some of us return to the woods, Brian and Steve stay behind to create a model of the tree for further testing in how to extract it. Back in the woods, Jet, Ines, and Juliet aren’t sure if we’ve found the fake crater but think it must have worked since the false meteorite is gone. Checking out the tree, the poster we hid it behind is torn, but there is no sign behind it that the rock was ever there. Ines feels the tree is cold, so we attempt to open the tree using Jet’s screwdriver set. The screwdriver gets stuck and the tree grows around the pocket knife we try extracting it with, so it seems the rock has given the tree self-healing powers.

After further testing, we decide to shock the rock out of the tree using a chemical bath and the knife and screwdriver as conductors to get the electricity inside the tree. With Jet and Ines helping, Brian successfully electrifies the rock, which shoots out of the tree at an angle and embeds itself into another tree. Ines extracts it before it can burrow inside again, ruining her sweater. After much debate, the group breaks off a chip from the rock for each of us to keep safe and put the main body into our locked puzzle box. Fade to black.

Truth & Daring: Vandal Edition

Tonight, thanks to Truth & Daring by Tim & Kristin Divine, we had six intrepid twelve-year-olds in a club called the Pathfinders determined to save their clubhouse and find the creature lost in the forest: Alex the curious explorer, Martha the clumsy new kid, Zane the sneaky collector, Dirk the daredevil leader, Penny the mischievous Inventor, and Zo the daredevil explorer.

Sale flyer for Truth and Daring game stating its for fans of Goonies, E.T. & Stranger Things. Made with love and laser feelings by Tim & Kristin Devine.
Image courtesy of DiceUp games via DriveThruRPG

At first the group was primarily worried about the possibility of the old shed in the cul-de-sac where they meet being torn down and plan how to protect their clubhouse, or at least get an early warning if anyone comes to tear it down. Before they begin, however, they decide to investigate the gigantic red feather that Alex found in the woods earlier in the week. As they enter the woods, the see Principal Johnson trekking off on his own with a mass of mysterious equipment. Penny remembers that she had heard him talking about needing a Geiger counter for his next expedition. Before Alex finds another giant feather, Dirk hits Mr. Johnson with a mud ball and Zo decides to crack his windshield with a rock. Mr. Johnson catches them both, but the entire group manages to dash away, do Mr. Johnson goes to speak directly to the delinquents’ parents.

After debriefing back at the clubhouse and the sudden disintegration of the new red feather, Zane maps out a more thorough plan to find more feathers and track down the mysterious bird. Their search leads them inside a large storm culvert where they find massive scratch marks in the cement where something had been clawing at the ground, and instantly everyone is fearful that a werewolf may have attacked their elusive bird. Could Mr. Johnson be a werewolf? The tracks lead them to a fallen over tree whose leaves and branches create a cavernous enclosure. Zo & Zane crawl inside to discover an enormous birdlike creature standing at least 6 feet tall with red feathers and vicious claws. After the bird is unimpressed but undisturbed by their offering of Cool-Ranch Doritos, Dirk pokes it in the eye and scares it away. Is Mr. Johnson a were-bird?

They continue to search through the entire vacation week, but have found no more signs of it by the time school resumes. While taking a shortcut through the teacher’s parking lot, Martha spots more of the red feathers near Mr. Johnson’s car and rallies the gang, who slip out of history class and try to pick open the trunk of the car. When a newly installed alarm goes off, Penny is able to disable it before anyone shows up, but gets her arm caught under the dashboard. Dirk gives the trunk a wallop with his wrench and the trunk swings open. Inside, they find Mr. Johnson’s ID for a experimental facility up on Sugar Hill run by MEGA Corp, more feathers and some rope. After cutting Penny loose from the dashboard, they race up Sugar Hill and disguise themselves, two to a trench-coat, as Mr. Johnson and staff and walk right in! Once inside they dodge discovery and search until they find the bird wired up with electrodes in a holding cage. Alex frees the bird from the electric wires using his yo-yo, which gets tangled in the wires and left behind. They race out of the facility, helping the bird limp along between their arms, and careen down the hill on their bikes.

Back at the clubhouse, they wonder if it might be a phoenix and they have to restrain Dirk from testing to see if can emerge from the ashes. The group thinks the bird can help protect their clubhouse, so they vow to finally clean up enough that the bird can safely live inside it. They name the bird Georgette and the species the Free Bird, and mail a postcard off to a local TV station to announce their find.