Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Chapter XI: Back on the Road

You are now chatting with a stranger. Say hi!
You: You have no memory of how you got here, what you’re doing, or even who you are. All you know are your surroundings. You’re crouching on the floor of a kitchen, blue and red lights occasionally flashing through the door behind you. A guy in combat fatigues is crouched with you, looking pissed off.
Stranger: M here
You: What do you do?
Stranger: Go for a beer
You: There's a fridge within arms reach, you open it, and pull out a beer. It's cold, and tastes good.

The story so far.
Halfway up a skyscraper with the population of a city there is a floor that is populated entirely by androids. Here they have shops, doctors, even museums. There is also a diner. That diner is where Ellis Cobalt, war veteran, private investigator, amnesiac and fugitive from the law is currently hiding with the man who killed their boss and framed them for murder. You see, when they met Ellis was going through a series of more... chaotic shifts in personality, and after loudly discussing murder for far too long, somebody called the cops and now there is an army of police robots encircling the diner. Ellis is pretty sanguine about this situation, largely because they have absolutely zero memory of what's going on.

You: "Ellis, I really don't think this is the time for a fucking booze up!" the pissed off looking guy says.
Stranger: You are extremely talented . Please continue

There are two things that immediately warm me to a player. Them telling me I'm talented, and showing an actual interest in the plot. I like this one.

You: "Okay, here's the situation, again" the guy says. "You're a robot. Your memory has been wiped and you’re wanted for murder. I'm the one who did the murder, but I'm trying to help you now for reasons we don't have time to go into."
You: "Now any second now, those copbots are going to come in here and shoot everything. We need a plan."
Stranger: Let's wait and try to sneak out the back
You: "Okay, there's a back door this way, come on," the guy says, leading you further through the kitchen. As you move you hear the doors explode at the front of the building and a sound like motorbikes riding in.
Stranger: What should we do? Do we have any guns?
You: "Check your hand," the guy says. You look down and see you're holding a large, silver pistol with "TURING" written along the barrel.
You: "There's going to be a lot of them though. I don't fancy our odds shooting our way out," he warns.

Not going to lie. I mainly did this because usually Ellis would respond to this by charging head first at the enemy out of spite, and I'd been lining them up to go out in a blaze of glory. For once though, Ellis's positronic brain seemed a little less fried than usual.

Stranger: Maybe we should lie low . Try to hide?
You: The guy looks around the kitchen, there's cupboards, machinery and a larger walk in freezer, and right at the back of the room, a fire exit. "Where do you suggest?" he asks.
Stranger: Let's hide in the cupboards. Is there room?
You: There's one large storage cupboard big enough for both of you, it's a squeeze, but you fit in. You see a search light spill across the kitchen as the door closes.
You: "Now what do we do?" the guy whispers.
Stranger: I am scared.. And my head is killing me. What is your name friend?
You: "Teri. We were squad mates back in the robot wars, before all this shit went off," he says, extending a hand.
You: "I'm sorry for what I had to do to you," he adds.
Stranger: No worries Teri... How the fuck do we get out of here? Are you my best friend? Can I trust you?
You: "I'm your best friend. But no, you can't trust me. I'm the guy who did the murder those cops are trying to pin on you."
You: "You've got to know I had a good reason though."
Stranger: Okay lead the way... Remind me to ask you why later? Now is not the time!
You: The noise of the cops outside gets quieter, their search seems to be over. "Shall we make a move?" Teri suggests.
Stranger: Yeah sounds good. Where the hell am I? What year is it?
You: "It's about 50 years since the Robot Wars, and you're in Utopolis, a City Tower. This is Tin Town, about halfway up the tower. The Robot District," Teri says, leading you out of the kitchen.
You: You come into the diner, it's retro looking, but the lights are off, the windows are smashed. You see yellow tape outside.
You: "What do you want to do?" Teri asks.
Stranger: Let's go inside... Look around.
You: "We're already inside," Teri says, gesturing to the darkened room around you. "Shall we get out of here?"
Stranger: Yeah sorry... My head is still a bit groggy. Let's go... Now.
You: You head out into the town square. It's covered. There are shops and neon signs, a giant statue and what looks like a wrecked police tank.

Once again, through a combination of luck and quick thinking, Ellis has successfully got themselves to the exact same point they were at three months ago. If Ellis's brain had reset at this point I might have had a little cry, but Ellis seemed to be having a lucid spell...

Stranger: Any ideas on which direction? Why did you commit those crimes?
You: "Your boss, the guy you were supposed to be guarding? He was secretly building a factory," Teri says.
You: "A robot factory, building new androids as smart as us, but this time incapable of rebelling. He kept their brains on a loop you see."
You: "Every time their got bored, or angry, or tired, their brain would reset and they'd go back to square one."
Stranger: So that is why you killed them? Are we part of the rebellion ? Are there more like us?
You: "We were part of the original robot rebellion, the old Robot Wars. After that the peace treaty said androids could have human rights- but on the condition nobody ever tried to build more androids," Teri says.
You: "Clagg, your boss. he wanted to build more androids, but make them slaves. But now he's gone, if we find that factory, we can start a new beginning for our people."
Stranger: How are we going too find it? Do you know anyone who can help us? Fuck!!! We need transportation don't we?

Ellis is so close to making real progress here. So now I'm starting to panic. I need to get Ellis to start laying some groundwork so when their memory goes they don't just try to shoplift at the museum gift shop again.

You: "I know where the factory is, but first we need to sort some things. Can you check your pockets?"
Stranger: Sure? What am I looking for? Why should I trust or help you?
You: Your pockets contain a digital camera, an ID badge that reads NAME: Ellis Cobalt PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR’S LICENSE: 161228020382 A notepad and pen A gun with TURING written along the barrel A digital camera An ID card for an overweight, middle aged man named Clagg Masterdon. A credit card under Clagg Masterdon’s name with a balance of $6 trillion.
You: The notepad has written on it:
You: "You've no reason to trust me. You've no reason to trust anyone," Teri says. "But what else are you going to do right now? You've been wandering aimlessly here for days."
You: "And there's something else."
Stranger: Teri.. I will trust you for now... What else is there Teri?
You: "Killing your boss wasn't my idea. Something put it in my brain. If someone can hack android brains, then having a brain that wipes itself at random points might be our only hope. I need you."
You: "Before your brain resets you need to do something."
Stranger: Sure.
You: Teri looks at you "When your brain resets, you'll forget all of this. So make sure you remember what's important. He passed you a black marker pen. "Write yourself a note, on your arm. Get rid of that notepad, it's useless. Just tell yourself to find the factory, destroy it or use it. Can you do that?"
You: "Feel free to add anything else your future self might need to know."
You: Whatever you write is basically all Ellis will have to go on next time, so I'm counting on you here.
Stranger: Find the factory and destroy it.
Stranger: Toss the note pad and use my arm. To write down notes.

RIP notepad, we hardly knew ye.

But now Ellis has the much more reliable "Note scrawled across their arm" to guide them. They've got a new mission, to destroy the robot factory. They've got a new companion in the form of their old war buddy/guy who framed them for murder. And they've got a new mystery, just who was it that put the idea of killing Clagg in Teri's head?

So the question is, just how is Ellis going to fuck this up?

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Chapter X: The Moment of Truth

The Story So Far...
Teri Manganese was a veteran of the Robot Wars, considered a hero by many. During those wars he fought alongside Ellis Cobalt, who would later go on to become Utopolis's leading PI, and then the prime suspect in the murder case of the century.
But Teri has also been busy since the war, and he has secrets that he needs to confess to his former comrade in arms. Unfortunately, Ellis Cobalt has lost their memory, and their mind is continually being reset, making it hard for Teri to explain. But he will push on, if only he can get Ellis to stop trying to explain about their penis...
You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You have no idea who you are or where you are, all you know are your surroundings. You're sitting in a diner. It's retro looking, but with a hundred tiny futuristic touches. You put your hand in your pocket, and realise you have a gun. What do you want to do?
Stranger: hlo
You: "Hi," says the guy sitting opposite you. "Are you okay? It looked like your brain fritzed out again."
Stranger:ha ha ha interesting
You: "Interesting is one word for it. Look, Ellis, your positronic brain has been hit by an enormous EM pulse. Your memory keeps resetting at random intervals, but I need you stay with it while I tell you something. Can you do that?"
Stranger:ill kill u with that gun ha ha
You: The guy smiles. "You could try. But during the Robot Wars I was always just a little bit faster than you."
Stranger:no y should i do...
Stranger:u r not faster actually i m reading
Stranger:where r u from pagal fellow...dont mind
You: The guy looks confused. "Okay. Look, honestly, we've been sitting here all day and this is the most together I've seen you, so I need to tell you something important. Can you listen a sec?"

The nice thing about having a character like Teri talking to Ellis is that it is super easy to roleplay someone who gets increasingly frustrated with Ellis's total lack of attention span and frequent amnesia.

You: "Look, the truth is, that murder you’re wanted for? I did it. The first one, not the detective, that was all you buddy. But I killed Clagg Masterdon," he sighs, as if a huge weight's off his chest.
You: "Sorry I had to leave you take the fall. You were supposed to be his bodyguard, but during the fight he got out that mindwipe device and you got hit by it instead of me."

Holy shit! Clagg Masterdon's murderer! The central mystery of Silicon Bullets has finally been solved! The search is over! But what does this mean for Ellis? What serious, ongoing consequences will this devastating revelation have?

Your chat has been disconnected. Click here to chat again.

Oh. Right.

You are now chatting with a total stranger! Say something interesting other than: ASL?
You: You have no idea who you are or where you are, all you know are your surroundings. You're sitting in a retro-futuristic diner, pointing a gun at the guy in army fatigues across the table from you.
You: “So there it is,” he says. “I did the murder you’ve been framed for. What are you gonna do about it?”

Holy shit! Clagg Masterdon's murderer! The central mystery of Silicon Bullets has finally been solved! The search is over! But what does this mean for Ellis? What serious, ongoing consequences will this devastating revelation have?

You: "Trust me, that won't help," the guy says.
Stranger:im gonna do it anyway
You: "During the fight your memory was wiped. It keeps resetting. That's why you're so disorientated."
Your chat has been disconnected. Click here to chat again.

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You have no memory of how you got here, what you’re doing, or even who you are. All you know are your surroundings. You're sitting in a retro-futuristic diner, pointing a gun at the guy in army fatigues across the table from you. You can hear approaching sirens in the distance.
Stranger:M here
You: "I know you're pissed off I framed you for murder," the guy says. "But I had good reasons."

This is the guy who did the murder? Holy shit! Oh, never mind.

You: "Has your memory reset again?" the guy asks. "That's all I fucking need."
Stranger:Oh dear
You: He glances out the window as the sirens get louder. "Hmm. Seems talking loudly in a diner about murder attracts attention as well."
Stranger:You are the greatest
You: "Thanks," he says.
You: "Look, we don't have much time, so, how much do you remember?" the guy asks.
Stranger:Leave now
Stranger:And why did you do this
You: "Okay, the police bots are lining up out front, let's go out through the kitchens," the guy says, "Follow me." He gets up and hops over the counter
Your chat has been disconnected. Click here to chat again.

It's true, you hang around in a diner loudly talking about murder, someone's going to call the cops. And frankly, Ellis hasn't been helping themselves. They had a good run, but I think we all knew this was only ever going to end in a blaze of glory for Ellis (That means they get shot to death).

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You have no memory of how you got here, what you’re doing, or even who you are. All you know are your surroundings. You’re in a diner. Red and blue lights are flashing through the windows. A guy is standing behind the counter, beckoning for you to follow him.
You: "Come on!" the guy hisses. "Those copbots outside are not going to read you your rights y'know!"
You: "Ohhh indeed," the guy says. "Are you coming or what?"

They say that you can judge a person by how they react to the knowledge of their imminent death.

Stranger:Sex chat
Stranger:U female
You: "Not that kind of coming," the guy says. "Why whenever your brain rescrambles do you always come to thinking about sex?"
Stranger:U fucking nasty
Stranger:R u female

Teri bravely tries to keep Ellis apprised of their situation.

You: "Okay," the guy says. "You're a robot. Your memory has been wiped and you’re wanted for murder. I'm the one who did the murder, but I'm trying to help you now for reasons we don't have time to go into. Oh, and your memory keeps getting randomly wiped. You caught up now?"
Stranger:Tell me
Stranger:Fuck off bitch
You: "If we don't move now, those copbots will bust in here and paint you over the walls, so can you fucking snap to it please?" the guy says. "Believe it or not, right now I'm your only friend in the world."
Your chat has been disconnected. Click here to chat again.

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You have no memory of how you got here, what you’re doing, or even who you are. All you know are your surroundings. You’re in a diner. Red and blue lights are flashing through the windows. A guy is standing behind the counter, beckoning for you to follow him.
Stranger:m here ; india
You: "Oh thank fuck, your brain reset," the guy says. "Sorry, but your last personality was a total arsehole. Look, we need to get out of here before the cops bust in, can you follow me?"
You: "We need to move now. I'll explain everything on the way."
Stranger:yea ok
You: The pair of you sneak through the kitchens at the back of the diner. As you move you hear a robotic voice say "THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING. COME OUT OF THE DINER OR WE WILL COME IN."
You: What do you want to do?
Stranger:if you dont like it then just fuck it
You: "Okay, here's the situation," the guy says. ""You're a robot. Your memory has been wiped and you’re wanted for murder. I'm the one who did the murder, but I'm trying to help you now for reasons we don't have time to go into."
You: "Somehow those copbots found out we're here, and any second from now they'll come in guns blazing. So what's our play?"
Stranger:hmmmm hmmm
Your chat has been disconnected. Click here to chat again.

And Ellis's positronic net resets itself again. The poor android is going to die, and they'll never even understand why it happened.

By this point, I was beginning to think maybe it was for the best. Ellis had a good run. They did some fun stuff, killed a lot of robots and at least one person, and found out everything they ever set out to learn even if they retained exactly none of it. The least I owed Ellis was the chance to go down fighting.

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You have no memory of how you got here, what you’re doing, or even who you are. All you know are your surroundings. You’re crouching on the floor of a kitchen, blue and red lights occasionally flashing through the door behind you. A guy in combat fatigues is crouched with you, looking pissed off.
Stranger: M here
You: What do you do?

Stranger: Go for a beer

Yep. This seemed fitting. Ellis would go out of this world the way they came into it - looking for a drink, and afterwards, possibly a wank.

Little did I know, that Ellis had other ideas...


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Interlude: Party Night at Kappa Iota Lambda - A We're All Going to Die Adventure

So, Ellis Cobalt will soon be nearing the end of their amnesiac sex pest adventures. Meanwhile, the real world is getting pretty busy this week, so while I retool things for the next chapter Ellis is taking a week off from walking into rooms, wondering why they walked in, forgetting they ever weren't in the room in the first place and trying to show their (non-existent) penis to the nearest animate entity.

But it may surprise you to know that I don't always play RPGs with anonymous strangers looking to cyber or send me dickpics. Sometimes I play RPGs with my friends that I have who are real and totally exist.

Recently we tried out the one-page RPG We're All Going to Die, by Adrian Bott. It's a one-shot game built on regular violent character death, with dice rolls being replaced by the cruel whims of the GM and a name picked out of a hat.

This is the scenario I wrote for the game- loosely based on 90s teenage slasher movies and probably slightly stolen from an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Couple of tips for anyone looking to run this game- Get all your players to come up with two characters. Having a spare makes it much less traumatising when you start murdering people early on in the game. We played with one GM and three players with two characters each, and the whole game wrapped up in two or three hours.
Character creation template
Also, these notes were written rapidly, and for my own purposes only, so there will be plenty of plotholes, loose ends, things the players ignore, things the GM will want to ignore, and things you might just have better ideas for entirely. Of course you should feel free to improv, improve, ignore and riff off anything in here if it seems fun. If you do give this a play, please let me know how it goes.

And again, thanks to Adrian Bott who wrote the rules for this game.

Party Night at Kappa Iota Lambda
You are high school kids. You’re all from various John Hughes tinted walks of life, but you have one thing in common. You aren’t cool. Maybe you were cool but you’ve had a fall from grace. Maybe you’ve always been a bit of loser. Maybe you’re a bit cool, but you want to be cooler. Whatever the reason, last week in detention you decided to listen to Wacky Michael, even though he’s the sort of person who insists on being called Wacky Michael.
During that detention Wacky Michael told you he knew about an absolutely insane party happening at the famously awesome Kappa Iota Lambda fraternity house that weekend. What’s more, he had a way to sneak himself and some good buddies into the party.
Getting into a College kids party is exactly the sort of thing that could boost you a couple of rungs up the vaguely defined but strictly policed ladder of “Cool”. That’s why, on Saturday night, you find yourself and a mismatched gang of kids you can barely stand climbing over the fence surrounding the Kappa Iota Lambda fraternity house.

Games Master Background NOT FOR PLAYERS- Draw on this info if the players manage to beat up or interrogate a cultist who isn’t an idiot.
Kappa Iota Lambda, and its sister Sorority, Delta Iota Epsilon, are two ancient and noble Houses. Over the generations they have produced Supreme Court Justices, Senators and CEOs. People with power.
What is not known outside the hallowed halls of the fraternity is that these people worship the God of Want, an ancient and powerful extra-dimensional being that feeds of deprivation and need. But the universe is a zero sum game, for there to be deprivation there needs to be excess, and so the God of Want grants great boons of excessive wealth to those who will create that deprivation.
Tonight is the night, once a year, when the brethren of KIL and the sisters of DIE will unite, perfect greats acts of hedonism and excess and then sacrifice human lives to the God of Want. And our heroes are about to wander right into the middle of it.



The plan is a simple one. Despite being the absolute coolest, jockest, bro-est fucking people you’ve ever seen the Frats at Kappa Iota Lambda aren’t above a little cosplay. For this party everyone is going to be dressing up in these deep purple velour robes, like some kind of camp grim reaper. Wacky Michael has a set of such robes, so he’s going to sneak into the party through the front door, head to the kitchen pantry at the back, and open a window for you guys to get in.
You guys have just traversed the fence at the SOUTH EAST corner of the grounds, and you can already here the bass from the party, and see the coloured lights spilling from the frat house windows The house itself looks like someone crashed a medieval castle and an ancient Greek temple together, with a disturbing mix of Norman arches and Greek columns. To your WEST is a utility shed, to your NORTH is a pretty sinister looking hedge maze, which seems like a weird thing to have at a frat house.
But then, it’s well known that this is the kind of Frat house you only get into if your Dad is the CEO of a major corporation, or at least a senator. Even from here you can see that the house is a mansion. You know your goal is to get to the back of the house and in through the window to the pantry.
If they try to go around the front way they will be met by a couple of burley looking guys in purple robes who politely but firmly tell them they aren’t welcome.
Oh, and BTW, if it does occur to anyone to use their mobile phone during this, they get absolutely nil signal.

Wacky Michael is an idiot. The handy “open window” he left you is eight feet off the ground and looks like a letter box. You might be able to fit through, but only if you really suck in your guts, and possible some of your bones.

This pantry is bigger than your bedroom. It’s dark, but through the moonlight at the window you can see rows of tinned food that looks like it’s been there since before the war, on a shelf above a couple of crates, actual crates, of Mountain Dew. There’s also an open cardboard box. There is a door that is open just a crack.
The cardboard box is almost empty, but at the bottom you find five sets of velour robes. If they’ve any sense they will wear these.
Any attempt to climb back through the window will be met with the revelation it’s too high. If after seeing Michael murdered they give somebody a lift up, they will hear the person say “Oh! Hello!” as they land outside, followed by a blood curdling scream. If The Survivor tries to get back through the window it falls and slams shut, and jams too tight to reopen.

You peer through the crack in the kitchen door just in time to see Wacky Michael walk in, followed by another party goer. You can tell it’s Mike because his hood’s down and his robe is several shades lighter and two sizes smaller than everybody else’s. Oh well, you don’t insist on being called “Wacky Michael” because you’re great at thinking things through. His companion is taller, considerably less dumpy looking, and somehow managed to make a velour robe look creepy. The hood completely covers their face.
“Alright bud, I’m just going to grab some Mountain Dew…” Mike says, walking towards you.
His companion nods without speaking, and walks over to the kitchen drawer. Mike spots you, and gives you a wink.
“Actually, we’re good for Dew,” he says turning back to his companion.
The other figure in a robe now has a long, painfully sharp looking knife. He raises it into the air and before Michael even has time to be surprised the figure drives the knife into Michael’s chest once, twice, three times, blood arching through the air with each impact.
Michael falls to the ground and a pool of blood begins to grow around him.
Any attempt to attack the robed figure will be punished. If one person attempts they will also be stabbed to death. If the group attacks (or The Survivor attacks) the figure simply wrestles free and disappears back through the door into the party. If they stay hidden, the robed figure will also return to the party.
Searching the kitchen will reveal half a lettuce, a packet of crackers, some beers and an incredibly expensive looking set of Chef’s knives.

The TV Room
You’re in the house common room, a ginormous living room with a TV big enough for two people sleep on it comfortably, sofas dotted all over the place, and a number of arched, medieval looking windows with, now you look, bars on them.
As you open the door the music washes over you. This is the party you’ve always heard about or seen on TV but never thought could actually exist. Everywhere you look are guys in purple robes, dancing, some with their hoods up, others with their hoods down revealing crewcuts and popped collars underneath. There’s also some girls from Delta Iota Epsilon sorority here, identifiably by their slightly better fitting emerald green robes. To your right you can see a long table with four different flavours of Dorito in bowls and six different types of dip. To your left is a bunch bowl big enough to drown triplets in.
There are doors on the left and right of the room, as well as medieval style spiral staircase leading up and down.
Ahead of you are the wooden double doors that will lead you back into the outside world.
If they attempt to leave through the front door.
As you approach the front door a guy in a gold-trimmed purple robe, wearing a laurel, climbs up onto the table.
There is drunken applause and clapping.
“I would like to declare that this party is started!” he shouts, raising a red paper cup.
Everyone raises their own paper cups.
“Lock the doors! Nobody leaves until the Gods of Getting Wasted are satisfied!” he declares, and two more robed figures put a wooden bar over the door, locking it into place with a padlock.
The applause is rapturous.
If they try to go anywhere else- or do anything that marks them as intruders.
As you push your way through the crowd a robed figure stops you.
“Brethren!” he cries. “You must drink to the Gods of Wanting!”
He passes each of you a red paper cup with liquid inside.
If they examine the liquid they will find it’s hard to identify with the flashing disco lights, but it looks dark and feels warm in your hands.
If they drink it’s a thick liquid, almost like warm cream in texture, but it tastes bitter, metallic, like sucking on a penny. See if anyone realises it’s blood, if not, select someone at random. That person realises it’s blood and spits it out, spraying the blood over everyone in the vicinity. There’s applause and cheering from the surrounding robed party-goers and that person is marked as The Sacrifice. If someone refuses to drink, that person is marked as The Sacrifice. If they give themselves away some other way, Sacrifice etc.

The Sacrifice
“WE HAVE A SACRIFICE!” bellows the robed guy who handed you the cups.
Before you can speak to particularly burly robe-wearers have appeared at your side, hooked their arms around and yours and begun dragging you to the punch bowl. Everybody parts to let you through, some cheering or booing.
A robed guy with gold trim on his cloak and a laurel on his head walks up to you.
“Well, well!” he says to the audience. “It seems a lamb has wandered right up to the altar! What do we do with the lamb everyone?”
The chant of “Sacrifice!” comes back from everyone in the room.
“That’s right!” the laurel-wearer says. “Bring me the instrument of sacrifice!
Reverentially two people pass the laurel wearer something the length of a long sword, wrapped in the same fabric as the robes. He lifts it up with one hand, and with the other yanks away the fabric revealing A YARD GLASS filled with BEER.
“YOU!” the robe guy shouts. “DO YOU ACCEPT THE SACRIFICE?”
Wait for an answer.
Everyone cheers, and the glass is lifted to your lips.
If they player attempts to drink, describe to drinking in accordance with how good/bed their character is at drinking. If they try not to, the glass is forced into their mouth and the beer spills down their clothes and onto the floor, which onlookers find hilarious. Both will reach a point where they start to feel like they can’t breathe, but they keep going.
As the last beer drains away everyone claps again because these morons will clap at anything. The guy in the laurel is patting you on the back and saying “Good job bro. That was legendary.”
Then he rests a hand on your head, pulls it back, and slits your throat with a sacrificial dagger, letting your body fall face first into the punchbowl. There is more clapping, and whooping, and laughing, and people calling “SACRIFICE!”
If they give themselves away again the whole room will come after them and this will be over quickly.
If they talk to someone they’ll hear about the Gods of Wanting, and how everyone has to be wasted in time for the Ceremony tonight.

The door leads down some steps and into a brightly lit room of breezeblocks and concrete. There’s a tool bench at one end of the room, and in the middle of the room are three vehicles. A Lamborghini Aventador SV, a classic Aston Martin and a large if slightly ratty looking white van.
The tool bench has spanners, screwdrivers etc. in. The cars are all open but don’t have keys in. A further search will reveal the keys are in an open lockbox by the door, right next to the switch that opens the garage door. If they look in the van they’ll find the body of a dead old guy in green overalls. Searching him will give them the keys to the utility shed. At some point (you pick) three guys in robes walk in and the lead one asks “Hey! What the hell are you doing!” They draw meat cleaves and start to attack. If the players get the upper hand one will run for reinforcements. Somebody should die here though.
Whatever vehicle they take, this will get them out the front of the house. As they drive off they’ll see bros in robes running out the garage and more waving angrily from the window. But the gate of the driveway is locked. If they ram it, the car will crash and the driver (or front seat passenger if the driver is the survivor) will be killed. Everyone survives if they wear their seatbelt though (don’t prompt that though).
They can climb the fence to escape. Some of them might even survive.
The Highway
Bloodied, tired and aching you stumble onto the road, and too frightened to rest you start limping back to town. As you walk, you see a police car up ahead.
The police car will stop, and the cop will ask what everyone’s up to, seeming friendly but suspicious. Get everyone into the back of the police car, and get the story from them, while driving back to the Frat House. Maybe hint that some weird stuff goes on at that Frat house. When they get there everyone is out the front of the house in robes.
The cop gets out of the car, looking sternly at the party goers. “There’s something I need to say to you boys,” the cop says gruffly. “I need to tell you… KAPPA IOTA LAMBDA RULES!” and then he runs in a circle high fiving everyone at the party.
More bros in robes gather around and grab each of you, dragging you back into the house and down to the basement.

The Swimming Pool
A Frat House with a swimming pool- that’s the level of stupid rich you’re dealing with. People in purple and green robes are lying on a loungers all around the pool, some have taken their robes off to have a swim, some are making out. At the far end of the pool is an enormous sound system that, for some reason, is playing Wheezer.
If they’re not found out, that’s all there is here. If they’re on the run, people come after them waving knives seconds later. Try to arrange for the sound system to fall in the pool and electrocute a bunch of people.

As you approach a huge, burley robed bro steps into your path. You can see his muscles even through the not-meant-to-be-flattering robes and he has a face like a Nazi propaganda poster.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he asks.
He will not let them past until one of them has defeated him at Beer Pong.

The Basement #1
The spiral staircase is uncomfortably narrow, and as you descend you notice the stone bricks around you are wet to the touch.
The basement itself has a definite “dungeon-y” quality, with lots of pillars and stone arches. In the centre of the room is a large, shallow, round pool filled with black liquid. A couple of guys in robes are trying to rig up some sort of scaffolding over the pool. You can also see chains, a couple of propane canisters that it can’t be safe to have down here, and a banner hanging from the ceiling that reads “KAPPA IOTA LAMBDA FOREVER!”
“Hey!” one of the bros in robes says when they see you. “We’re not ready for you yet! You guys aren’t supposed to come down until the ceremony.”
These bros in robes are friendly enough so long as you keep up at least a pretense of being KIL. They’re looking forward to the ceremony to the Gods of Getting Wasted. They reckon it’ll be pretty Legendary. They’re concerned everyone is getting sufficiently, totally out of their mind black-out blitzkrieged in time for the ceremony.

You follow the staircase up into a tasteful lobby area with long corridors going off to the South, East and West. The carpet is a mesmerising pattern of interlocking hexagons in orange, brown and red, the walls are an inoffensive pastel. A door to your south has “Bathroom” written on it on a tiny bronze engraved plaque. By the stairs is a small table with a red, rotary dial phone on it.
If they call the police they’ll hear a male voice that pretends to be the police while trying to stop themselves from sniggering. As they keep talking more bros in Robes will appear from the East and West.

Corridor (any corridor)
The corridor seems to stretch on forever, with row upon row of doors on either side of you. Something about the motion of the carpet as you walk makes you feel nauseous.
Let them open any door and just improvise what’s in the bedrooms- someone chained up to a bed who wants to be there. A little girl waiting for a pony. A man trying to persuade an ostrich to marry him. A guy in a powdered wig trying to play the piano. The dead groundskeeper, talking about how he’d just like some new tools. Wacky Michael, still bleeding, who just really likes you guys and wants to hang out with you. Try to freak them out. The thing all of them will have in common is that they want things, and won’t leave the room because otherwise they won’t get what they want.
The windows at the front can be opened, but are too high up. Bedsheets can be tied together to get down the outside of the building and escape.

Study Room
This room, done up in the same wonderfully tasteful dΓ©cor as the hallways, with a row of man-sized cupboards along one side. It also features a long coffin-shaped table surrounded by chairs and littered with books. Most seem to be ordinary textbooks- Political Science 101, Plant Anatomy, but at the very end of the table is a huge, leather bound thing that, frankly, it’d be more practical to read on Kindle.
If they spend too long in here they hear the door open and have just enough time to hide.

The Leather Bound Book
The book is written in a language you don’t understand. The letters don’t even look like anything you’ve seen before- it’s like one of those bullshit made of Dungeons and Dragons languages. It turns out Frat Boys really are total nerds. In amongst the squiggly made up writing, however, there are woodcuts. Woodcuts with entrails, and stabbing, and people in hoods doing things that definitely don’t adhere to the College’s zero-harassment policy. Some of the pictures are just weird though- there is one picture of what looks like a giant eyeball, and people that look like knights in armour emptying their goblets over the eye as people in robes hold up their hands and look…. Sad? Scared? Hungry? Honestly, the quality of these engravings isn’t top notch stuff.
If someone does happen to have RPG or Language skills, they may be able to read that “The God of Desire May Not Receive His Own Fruits” as the caption for the woodcut with the giant eyeball.

Utility Shed
You can get in here with the key from the body you found in the van.
You open the door and it creaks. This room is pitch black and filled with cobwebs. But looking around you see beneath the cobwebs are rakes, ages, shovels, and, suspiciously shining clean on a worktop right at the back of the room, is a pristine looking diesel powered chainsaw.

You dive into the maze, it’s dark and you can barely see where to put one foot in front of the other. It smells strongly of tree.

Basement #2
You dragged, kicking and screaming down the spiral staircase into the basement. It’s hot and humid and smells of stale beer and BO and it is packed with howling bros in robes and the sisterhood from Delta Iota Epsilon. Everyone seems to be gathered around a round paddle pool filled with what might be oil. There are kegs positioned all around and people are drinking and chatting. You are dragged to a cage just about big enough for one person and grabbed inside. Then someone pulls a winch and the cage is dragged on a chain until it hangs directly over the pool.

Everyone is clapping and cheering, but then it all goes quiet. The guy with the gold trim robes and the laurels begins chanting. You can’t make out the words, but soon everyone is joining in. The black liquid in the pool begins to slosh and splash, waves ripple across the water, growing bigger with the chanting.

The black water flows away, revealing underneath it a gigantic eyeball. It stares unblinkingly at you. You can see the veins running across it, and make out the structure of the unnaturally blue iris. The chanting stops to allow for more cheering.

Then, everyone goes completely silent as suddenly the eye splits right down the middle and opens up to reveal it is filled with thousands of tiny razor sharp teeth. From deep down in the depths of the thing, narrow, fleshy tentacles rise up and take hold of your cage.
For the survivor the cage door is ripped off. For anyone else, you can have the cage door rip off, or you can rip the floor out and leave them dangling.
Someone who tries can make the leap out of the cage. They can fight or try to make a run for it. If they knock over a keg into the eyeball:

Eyeball Death
As the beer sloushes onto the eyeball it immediately turns red and bloodshot, its tentacles flail madly and the air is split by an unearthly scream that seems to come from everywhere at once. The ground begins to rumble and crack, purple light shooting up from the gaps.
At this point everyone starts to run, any surviving play characters should run too. From here on everything collapses into the hole. Remember the front door is locked and windows are barred- only ways out are the garage and the upstairs windows.

As you reach the outdoors and flee the house you see the entire building is sinking into the ground in a halo or purple lightning. The scream fades and you alone, in a field, next to a big hole in the ground. Slowly everything fades to black…

You wake up in a hospital bed. At the foot of your bed stand two shockingly non-descript men in black suits.
If they try to move they will find they are unable to do so- the men in black will ascribe this to “Shock”. They will introduce themselves as Mr Bed and Mr Patient Chart-son. They will tell the survivor that the event at Kappa Iota Lambda were a tragic accident- under-age drinking led to a fatal gas explosion that completely destroyed the house. The surviving members of the Fraternity are distraught. A lot of them have bright futures and it will take them years to recover from this. The survivor, also, is to be commended for their quick wits and strong will in surviving the explosion.

If the player starts talking about murders or sacrifices they will cut them off, explaining that they have a bright future as well, and it would be a shame to ruin that with a reputation for drug taking- glue sniffing and mushrooms and what not. Once assure the person isn’t going to blab, or made vague threats if they’ve said they will, the men give the survivor a business card and leave. It’s completely blank.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Chapter IX: The Booth at the End

Ellis has been standing in this town square for a while, occasionally barking profanities at passers-by. I have cut down the introductory flavour text for brevity in case that inspires more of a reaction
You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You’re standing in the middle of a robot town. You can see a statue, a smashed up tank and some shops. You have no memory but an incredibly strong sense of de ja vu.
Stranger: πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„
You: What would you like to do?
Stranger: I will wake up from dream
Stranger: πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
You: You pinch yourself. It hurts. But you're still standing under a big neon sign that says "TIN TOWN".
You: From here you can signs reading “Copper’s Write Electrical Store”, “Doc Osmium’s Repair Workshop”, “The Tin Memorial War Museum” and “Nicky Nickel’s Diner”.
Stranger: I will switch off the tv
You: There are some TVs in Copper's Write Electrical Store, but they are behind wire mesh.
Stranger: I don't know
You: You can go to any of the shops. You can check your pockets. Or whatever else your imagination can come up with.
Stranger: Who are u
You: I am narrating.
You: What do you want to do?
Stranger: Are u planning to make avtaar3
Stranger: Or Titanic 2
Stranger: Something like that
Stranger: πŸ™„πŸ™„
You: You notice that none of the androids around you are blue. Or drowning.

This time Ellis’s personality sticks around for a while, asking questions of the thin air while not really knowing what to do (despite some, quite frankly, over-charitable hints). Still, it is good to know that the player is experiencing something new.

Stranger: I never think before while chating
Stranger: It seems i am sitting in some boring class
Stranger: Why u are boring me
You: You're not sitting in some boring class. You are standing in a town square.
Stranger: Wtf
You: There may be more interesting things if you go somewhere else. But for now, there is boredom.
Your chat has been disconnected. Click here to chat again.

The story so far. Ellis Cobalt was an android PI, and a veteran of the Robot Wars. That was before they were framed for one murder (Clagg Masterdon, the owner of Utopolis), and in a bid to escape arrest, committed another (A detective investigating the case), and that’s not counting countless wrecked police-bots. This situation is made more difficult thanks to the irreparable damage done to Ellis’s positronic brain, causing their memory and personality to completely reset every few minutes at random.
Ellis then found themselves crawling, lost and bullet riddled, through Tin Town, the robot quarter of the tower city of Utopolis. A helpful doctor patched them up, gave them facial reconstruction surgery to looklike Ryan Gosling, and gave Ellis some invaluable insights into the post-Robot-Wars world Ellis now lives in, and the uneasy, fragile peace thatexists between humans and robots.
From there, Ellis wandered into a war museum, learned much about just what the terrible cost of the Robot War was, and the strict rules that govern the peace. Most notably, that androids are under no circumstances allowed to reproduce.
Then they went into the gift shop and promptly forgot everything they had learned, and aggravated the shopkeeper to the point where the police were called and Ellis’s true identity was nearly revealed (to themselves as much as anyone at that point).
Now Ellis is back at square one, no better off than they were when they crawled bleeding and broken out of the elevator and into Tin Town square. Although it has to be said, they are considerably better looking.

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You’re standing in the middle of a robot town. You can see a statue, a smashed up tank and some shops. You have no memory but an incredibly strong sense of de ja vu.
Stranger: You should Write a Book :)
Why thank you player! As it happens Dirty Work, an anthology of weird fiction, is available in e-book and paperback form for a very reasonable price!
You: From here you can see signs reading “Copper’s Write Electrical Store”, “Doc Osmium’s Repair Workshop”, “The Tin Memorial War Museum” and “Nicky Nickel’s Diner”.
You: What would you like to do?
Stranger: Diner, I like to eat :D
You: “Nicky Nickel’s Android Diner” it says along the wall and on each of the menus in flashy primary coloured fonts. If you ever wondered what an android diner served, the answer is printed on backlit signs hanging over the canteen.
You: Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and milkshakes. Perfectly ordinary looking food with “Hand Prepared- Not Printed!” on a little star shaped piece of cardboard pinned beneath the menu.

Some smart arses out there are probably asking why an android would eat what is pretty obviously human food. It’s called biofuel, doofus.
“But Chris,” some of you are saying. “Why would we use perfectly food for biofuel when the stuff in the compost bin will do just as well?”
People like you are the reason we had a Robot War in the first place. You sicken me.

You: The tables are in kiosks against the wall opposite the canteen, beneath windows looking out onto Tin Town square. At the far end of the room is a Juke Box. An android, whose face is half synthetic flesh, half bronze is wiping down the bar. They may be the Nicky Nickel whose name is over the bar
You: What would you like to do next?
Stranger: Dancing :)
You: There's a juke box at the end of the bar
Stranger: I know
You: Juke Box The juke box’s play list features songs such as:
Stranger: I dont know this songs
You: It's an android juke box. It probably does requests.
Stranger: I dont know, what the \"game\" wants to say
You: If there is a song you want to dance to, just ask the juke box.
Stranger: Okay
Stranger: But I mean the \"game\" in general
You: The "game" has nothing to say but respond to your actions. You can look around, check your pockets, order some food, play a song.

We don’t like folks who go round breaking the fourth wall in these parts. We like our fourth wall right where it is, thank ye.

Stranger: OKaz :D
You: There is a figure sitting in one of the booths who... I don't want to pigeonhole them by describing them as "dark and mysterious", but... yeah.
You: What would you like to do next?
Stranger: I dont know
You: Pockets? Juke box? Food? Mysterious figure?
You: The android behind the bar with the half a bronze face leans over and says "Hey! You gonna order something?"
Stranger: Yes, i want to
You: "What would you like? We got it all. Homecooked! None of that 3D printed rubbish!"
Stranger: Vegetable
You: "I do a mean vegetarian lasagna?"
Stranger: Yes its okay
You: He scribbes your order on a bit of paper and hands it through a hatch to the kitchen. "That''ll be $12.99."
Your chat has been disconnected. Click here to chat again.

As soon as it was time to pay Ellis completely forgot everything. In many ways Ellis resembles a lot of freelance clients.

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You have no memory of how you got here, what you’re doing, or even who you are. All you know are your surroundings. You are standing in a startlingly accurate recreation of a 1950s American Diner, with the only small flaw that you are being served by a half-man, half-bronze cyborg. He is looking at you expectantly.
Stranger: ohhh
You: "I said that'll be $12.99," the bronze cyborg says, looking at you expectantly.
Stranger: asl ?
You: "120 years old, male, and waiting for you to pay for your order," the cyborg says.
Stranger has disconnected.

Oh dear.

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You have no memory of how you got here, what you’re doing, or even who you are. All you know are your surroundings. You are standing in a startlingly accurate recreation of a 1950s American Diner, with the only small flaw that you are being served by a half-man, half-bronze cyborg. He is looking at you expectantly.
Stranger: Fuck off

People, be polite to customer service personnel. They don’t deserve this kind of abuse.

You: "Don't you tell me to fuck off," the robot says. "You order this food, you're damn well gonna pay for it."
Stranger: Is this a machine??
You: "No," he says. He brings up an arm from beneath the bar. His entire arm is a shining, gold, futuristic looking gun. "This is the machine. Now are you gonna pay, or we gonna have words?"
Stranger: Who are you?
You: "I am Nicky Nickel, the proprietor of the finest diner in Tin Town," he says. "You are the one who just ordered my DELICIOUS vegetable lasagna. And now I want £12.99."
Stranger: I hate lasagna

Shit is about to kick off, when an unlikely hero appears.

You: The guy looks like he's about to lamp you when a figure comes up to the pair of you. "Leave it Nick," he says. "I'll pay for the lasagna. It's not half as good as you say it is anyway."
Stranger: Who is he?
You: "Come sit down and talk," the figure says. "We've got a lot of shit to sort out, Ellis."
You: He beckons you to sit at a table with him.
You: "You don't know half the story, pal," the guy says. "You going to sit down or what?"
Stranger: You're boring
Stranger has disconnected.

Don’t listed to Stranger, guys. This mysterious figure is really interesting. In fact, I think this could be the guy to crack open the whole case. All we need is the kind of expert, precision questioning that Ellis Cobalt, PI is famed for.

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: You have no memory of how you got here, what you’re doing, or even who you are. All you know are your surroundings. You are standing in a startlingly accurate recreation of a 1950s American Diner, by a table where a dark and mysterious figure is sitting. He looks at you expectantly. “Are you gonna sit down?”
Stranger: yes
You: You sit down at the table. "Now tell me Ellis, what do you remember?"
Stranger: i am naked
Stranger: with 6 inches dick
Stranger: everyone want to suck my dick
You: The figure looks you over. You're wearing a brown trenchcoat, shirt and trousers. "Oh Christ, I really messed you up didn't I?"
Stranger: lol
You: He leans forward. "Okay, I know this means nothing, and you probably won't remember it in five seconds time, but I'm sorry it had to happen this way, Ellis. I wish there'd been another way."
Stranger: take care baby
You: The figure puts his head in his hand and groans. "Have you been like this the whole damn time? It's a real wonder you've lasted this long. But what the hell. That's why I need your help anyway."
Your chat has been disconnected. Click here to chat again.

Who is this mysterious figure? What is he sorry for? Why does he need Ellis's help and how long will he be willing to listen to Ellis talk about their totally fictional penis to get it?

The camera pans out of the diner window, as the mysterious figure's expression grows more and more strained while Ellis gestures elaborately to illustrate length, girth and momentum.  Fade to black.