When your parents’ parents were young, we arrived at this planet in 13 beautiful ships. We sought to see this place, to know its people, and to live life here to its fullest.
Hi, I’m Lucy and I’m playing Vake.
But we didn’t anticipate its inhabitants’ violence and distrust. They struck out unprovoked with weapons of shattered matter.
Hi, I’m Jim Ryan, and I am playing Karloff Carradine.
12 of our ships fell to the surface, which was devastated by our broken technology and the fallout from their terrible weapons. Some of the inhabitants survived by scavenging our drive cores, and we had neither the heart nor the strength to stop them.
I’m Ben and I’m playing Jones Johnson IV.
In our remaining ship, we mourned our dead and reconfigured ourselves to this new world. In time, we even befriended some of the local people, and had children of both worlds.
Hi, I’m Zoe, and I’m playing Comet “Baby Teeth” Sharps.
But our remaining ship was damaged so long ago, and the only parts left to repair it remain hoarded by those who are incapable of hearing our voices. I’m sorry, my child, for what we choose to do.
Welcome to the final episode in this campaign of Tabletop Garden! It’s an actual play podcast where we collaborate on short, self contained stories about interesting characters, and we do it with an agenda. I’m Gregory Avery-Weir and I am excited to be completing this story. It’s, uh, it’s been sitting recorded for a long time and I’m very happy to be finishing the editing as I speak, and to finally be able to get it all out to you. I have not yet released any of the episodes or after the hiatus, so I’m very excited to see how people feel.
A content warning for this episode: we’ve got some attacks on civilians being discussed, here, some attacks by armed people on civilians, and there’s discussion of famine and some of the consequences of conflict on society. So heads up on those. They’re, none of them are too bad, I don’t think, but. And there is an instance of, I will say, self sacrifice? Of someone ending their own life.
Also, just a structural note. There’s a point in this final session where we paused and said, “Okay, let’s chat out of character about how we want to end this.” Initially, I think we thought that we’d pull out that section, but we ended up keeping it. So you might notice in like the in our actual like, meta chat section that might might sound a little weird. And that’s because we recorded a bunch of OOC chat and then finished the campaign and then recorded the meta chat and and so that just might seem a little bit like we’re not remembering things or are somehow prescient or something like that. But that’s that’s why that might be misaligned.
Before we get started, I’ll mention that I do still have a Patreon: patreon.com/Gregory AveryWeir I appreciate any support you can give there. It really really helps me be able to do work like this, and you won’t get access to the next episode of Ego Driver, but when the next campaign starts, you will get early access to all of those episodes. So without further ado, we will conclude Ego Driver, a post apocalyptic vehicular combat campaign using the Big Eyes, Small Mouth third edition rules. Our agenda is to honestly portray diverse characters, pursue healthy play practices and craft story with social responsibility. Here our agenda is to save yourself, make it look good and live like you’re dying. You can get more info on the show at: tabletop.garden And now, Tabletop Garden: Ego Driver.
If you go over and shift some of the material there’s just like a cascade of painted skulls and death’s head themed decorations that is in a pile near the bottom.
So Karloff pauses and just sort of stands up and stares at it for a minute. And just sort of… crouches down and sort of picked one of them up and is like, “Those damned idiots.” He’s just shaking his head looking at it and he throws it back down.
Who? What’s your? What’s the story there?
That’s stuff from the Stygian Races.
What? What is what? I know what that is? Would it be a dumb question for me to ask that, gracious GM?
I’ll defer to Jim on this one.
There is a chance you might have heard of them. But they’re not like incredibly famous. But so but it’s one of those… they’re kind of a… you might have heard of them as kind of a cultish almost sort of death cult out in the wastes, I guess, that… like usually it’s when they go with it’s like they either race each other and or they go hunting for prey. Those are like the two things that they do.
I am going to roll a dice a die to see if I know what this is. I know what it is. “Oh!”
These symbols, yeah, look not unlike those that are painted on the side of Karloff’s vehicle.
Oh! Well, then either way, I put two and two together there. “Are these… are these your people?”
In a manner of speaking. I was conscripted at a very early age. I was raised by them.
We ra… we raced each other. Whoever won got to live. Very sort of closed system. Every now and then they had to hunt to recruit. That was not my favorite thing to do in life.
As you look around this junk room. And at some of the vehicles that are still left outside, you recognize in the lines of some of these cars, vehicles built both for speed and for sturdiness and start to have an idea of some of the places that the Jacko Gang got their vehicles.
So while everyone is doing what they’re doing, I’m wondering… Jones is wondering what it would take to level this area. He’s he’s thinking on at least one level, if if they decide this is definitely one of their major, or at least one of one of their supply depots slash resource caches… At least in the back of his head, he’s trying to think of what it would take to collapse this area, and does have Demolitions.
Um, this place is pretty sturdily built from what you can tell. Those those arches and curves, you think, would render it pretty stable. There is a whole lot of machinery in the walls. There’s very little wasted space in this complex. It’s, it clearly was planned out and not to kind of excavated as they went.
Your… things that are showing up on your sonar are: there is a room that does not look structurally important, but sort of by the layout of this complex is sort of central and easily accessible. Basically, if you continue down the same way you were going for a while you would get to this room that’s, that’s large and almost spherical, and has some sort of platform at the center of it.
You also notice that on the, I guess, near the far side of the complex, there’s a room that contains some sort of power plant, just a big hunk of machinery that has what seems like more normal sound baffling around it. So you can assume that it’s probably pretty noisy. But it doesn’t seem to be doing well. You’re, You’re detecting various structural issues with the the walls around it. You occasionally are hearing weird pops and and pings as if there’s unstable heat coming off of it. So if this place is dependent on power in order to stay running, which the equipment in the walls suggests that maybe you’re far enough underground that it needs ventilation, that would be a good place to go. Or that central room that’s, that’s got the platform in the middle might also be some sort of important nerve center.
But that central room is sort of on the path we’re heading anyway. So we’ll probably see what’s there.
The power, the… what I think is a power plant is pretty far off the path.
So are you all piling back into your vehicles for now? Did you want to check out anything else around here?
I might grab one of those soft cotton jackets myself, if we’re gonna…
Think my old denim one got a little screwed up. At some point over the last little story arc.
Yeah, I think it got taken out by a coin.
Right, right. Yeah. I’m happy to upgrade.
I just picked up a couple of personal items from the the pile. I’ve picked up a skull medallion, and a sort of, like pair of, of silver horns that I’m just going to slap somewhere on the vehicle.
Is there any of that blue goo anywhere?
No, you don’t see… even checking through the lockers, you don’t see any of it.
Vake will go back to the tank, but they are going to stay on the outside of it like they were before.
Okay. You continue along in your vehicles down this through this garage room and down another hallway, and things are starting to look a little weirder. You’re still seeing the the strange flickering lights and suggestions that this place is not running as well as it should be. But you also see some sort of supply locker on the ceiling. Like it’s the sort of locker that you would expect to see with like first aid supplies or fire suppression supplies or anything like that in any complex that was well planned out. But this looks completely inaccessible. It’s up on the ceiling. There are holes or tunnels that go off at odd angles off of the hallway, as if, like someone is expected to take a slide down or somehow climb up these relatively… not slick but but smooth textured hallways, like climb up a tunnel made of the same material. But it seems like if you’re headed towards that large central room, that you can continue on straight and level where you’re going.
At this point, Jones is probably getting a little… suspicious?
Uneasy. Uneasy is the word I’m looking for. I was about to ask for my anomaly detector.
Yeah, so your anomaly detector is definitely… hmm. It’s reading a stable reading that is too high, which never happens. It’s it’s like a, you know, a Geiger counter will will ebb and flow. This one is this anomaly detector. It’s like it’s clicking a steady rhythm. Like there’s an anomaly around, but it’s not anomalous here.
Yeah, there really aren’t stable anomalies. That that’s a contradiction of concepts. Right? Yeah. Yeah. Not happy.
And you’re also noticing that those signs of movement that you were seeing, the the vehicles and so on that are outside of that, that area with a strange interference, it looks like different refraction. They almost seem like they’re avoiding you. In one case, there was one that was would have been up ahead. But as you started moving again, it took a side passage and is in another part of the of the complex now.
That I will pass across because… “Hey, guys, I’ve been trying to keep track on possible contacts while we’re going around. And this ain’t the first time that they’ve gotten out of our way. You know, a couple times now we’ve looked like we’re about to come up on somebody. But then they just shifted to a new position. At the very least I’m guessing somebody knows we’re here.”
Yeah, I feel like what we what we did outside probably caused a little bit of a stir. What with the two story tall combine and zombie cars. Or maybe that’s just like a normal normal Thursday here!
Yeah, but if we’re in the middle of their fortress of… city ship thing, if they were unhappy about us messing with their guy outside you’d think they’d jump us or something.
I mean, do you want to try the stealthy method? (unclear overtalk)
I don’t you want to really think I can do stealth inside this ship.
Maybe they’re STATIC
STATIC us out.
There’s a flashback to that moment when Karloff was unconscious. And Vake was tossing the blue goo on Karloff and just a single droplet hurtles toward the radio and has been working its way deep inside the cords all of this time.
Love the imagery here.
The little blue droplet that could.
Is it fixing the radio?
It could be.
The… the static from Karloff’s radio suddenly ceases and is replaced with a very soft bossa nova rhythm.
I somehow think that makes it worse.
And you’re able to hear Karloff clearly.
Oh my god.
I said, I was just saying that they might be… maybe just was trying to feel us out that’s all. And then it’s like, bossa nova rhythm …the hell is that?
And when you when you let off of the mic, the the music stops.
That is bossa nova.
It is my favorite.
Just experimentally press the button and then listen to it for a second then unpress it. Press it and unpress it.
It seems like your carrier signal is now a soft bossa nova backing.
Incidentally that’s what I’ve been listening to quite a lot lately in real life. Not today at all but yesterday and all weekend really well I’ve been sewing I’ve been listening to the the sweet sounds of
Luiz Bonfá and and
Bola Sete. Anyway…
It’s good atmospheric ambiance music.
I shall consider upgrading my frequency.
bossa nova That’s a heck of a trade off.
So are you continuing to move forward?
Sure. I’ll I’ll go.
I don’t know if we can. I’m held fast by the power of Bossa Nova.
I just want to sway.
Had I a corporeal form, I would dance.
So you continue down this, this passageway and you’re about to enter that large chamber. You can see up ahead, this, this hallway has been curving organically to the… so that you can’t see a great distance. But you come around a curve enough to see that it’s going to open up ahead. Anything you want to do before entering this space?
Are any targets coming up on the… well, actually, no. I’d have to be able to see them, wouldn’t I? I was I was wondering if any targets were coming up on the the mine targeting computer but I don’t know if it would or not.
No, the targeting computer is not registering any any specific targets. It’s kind of, presumably distracted by the machinery in the walls. It’s like… Yeah, I got a big target right here.
Yeah. It’s all around you.
The room you’re in detects as a trap.
So you travel further and emerge into this large room. And it is roughly spherical, kind of a squashed sphere, and has a large platform in the middle. The walls… the floor slopes upward, very steadily into the wall. And you can see benches and seats and tables. scattered around like this is some sort of common room or eating hall, but they just slowly curve up the wall. So you’re seeing chairs and tables up just pasted sideways on the wall as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. And this wall continues to arch up until overhead, you see large, what must be windows.
And Jones, you know that this is at the top of the complex. And outside of the windows you see black with occasional scattered stars. And just the slight sliver of blue of a planet outside of these windows.
In the center of the room is a bulbous almost mushroom shaped platform with curving surfaces all the way up the side of it. And at the top of it is a sort of desk, a round pulpit. And sitting in it is a woman. She has… you can see her upper torso. And she’s probably loud talking distance from you. So not too far, but but not right up close. She’s wearing a jacket or a coat that is entirely that spiky, black rubbery material. She has kind of spiky floppy hair. That’s that’s all… that’s got decent amount of texture and body up on the top of her head and is falling around the sides of her face. And she is looking at you as you enter. And she she calls out, “Come out into the light. We’ve been wondering how this conversation would go.”
Comet gets on the radio real quick and says, “I have a bad feeling about this. And I’m gonna do something. And if it’s bad, I’m sorry, I’ve only tried it once. But don’t worry it, it’s still me.” And I administer a dose of my my homebrew combat drugs. Because I’m starting to get a little freaked out by the situation. And as, as we approach I assume in our vehicles or possibly on foot at some point? I guess describe this… Can we drive? Are we walking?
Yeah, you can you can drive into this, this large room. Think like the size of a school cafeteria.
There, it’s probably… it’s got wide enough aisles. But you can see once you’re in here that it is not intended to have vehicles in it. But there is enough space for you all to enter and fan out a little bit
Cool. Well, as we do that, and I give my little warning, I stab myself in the thigh with a single serve needle. And suddenly, if you can see me, I begin to change in some ways, which I’m happy to describe now or when I’m out of the car.
Let’s Let’s have a dramatic description of you sitting in the driver’s seat and what happens to you.
Well, I’m sitting in the driver’s seat, and I do the thing where you take a nice, a nice breath in, and then a breath out. And then a stab and then I get a little, probably a little wavy for a second. I think this is some some some future shit sort of like when when Vake’s tank rearranges itself. So probably a little bit like that. Then and then in anime fashion, I get a little a little beefy. My hair gets a little wilder. And I’m… my eyes definitely change color because you can’t have an alternate form with the same color eyes. But yeah, you see Comet, if you can see Comet… I don’t know… I have to loosen up my seat belt a little bit as my muscles start to bulge. And I get a little shimmer of force field. And sort of… Yeah, my my eyes get a little a little sparkly here and my my hair gets a little more, a little more anime. And next time I come on the radio, I may have a different voice. And that is it. No explosions. No, no shrieks. Just a little beefy.
And the woman stands and walks to the edge of that platform. And as she’s standing at the curved edge of it, she’s actually angled slightly outward. So it looks as if she’s leaning forward at an impossible angle and looking down at you all. Her pants are that kind of a shiny wet look. Black material. Pretty, pretty close fitting.
Love her style,
Vake will attempt to flip off the tank on to the dais.
You’re able to jump up there, your landing is a little differently dramatic than you expect. Because as you approach the dais you are coming down, not straight down, but tangent to the surface. So you land at the same angle that she’s leaning at. Beside her. Presumably?
I land at the same angle she’s standing at.
Yeah, so she’s slanted out. So it’s like gravity just sticks you to the surface of this of this curved dais.
All right. So I’m our spokesperson, I guess. So you’re in luck. I wasn’t… I wasn’t expecting to have a conversation so you have me at a disadvantage
As Comet here is Vake start to try to be diplomatic, she’ll open the door to the car and definitely breaks off the door handle trying to get out. So you hear you hear like a crunch sound from her car and then, “Fuck!” and then she just kicks the door out so it falls off and gets out of the car.
And Jones just, his jaw drops.
She’s a couple inches taller. And she starts to mosey slightly behind Vake. It… I mean is it an elevated platform? Can I just walk up or do I have to leap?
Vake… so Vake did an elaborate leap if you want to try and walk up the side of it, you’ll be like walking… Seeing how Vake is standing you suspect that you can just walk up the side of it and be just walking sideways and then upside down as you come across the bottom of it and then back up right again.
I do that with my hands in my pockets. But I do not say anything.
Karloff and Jones you see comet get out and just walk up this thing as if she’s, as if her feet are stuck to the walls. And she’s… she was you know kind of weird looking before, in in dress and in other ways, kind of gangly. Now she’s just like, buff, and she’s a looker now. Like, like a like a real stud. And this woman looks looks at Vake and then looks at at Comet and says, “I… I’d heard the stories but it seems that they are true. That’s weird to see two of our lost relatives here at the same time.”
(deep) What the fuck are you talking about?
She says, “Aren’t you one of us?”
I mean, you’re not the first person to say that today, but I don’t really have any additional information to add. Who are you?
Last time we went through this, I tried to say that and then the lady was like, “No, you’re not my kid.” So are you? I don’t know. Are you my mom? Just just spill the beans.
She She shrugs kind of spasmodically like she’s kind of under a lot of stress at the moment. And she says, she says, “We’d… who can tell? If so you’re not on, you’re not going to be recognizable right now. Right? We can figure out exactly whose kid each of you is once this whole thing is over. I assume by the fact that you’re not shooting at me that you’re not on a mission from Neiderdorf?” And she looks kind of pointedly down at at at Karloff and and Jones’s vehicles.
Number one, we’re not currently on a mission from Neiderdorf. Number two, I was born full grown from the head of Zeus. So I’m not worried about what my parentage is.
Yeah, over the radio: “Karloff what what what have we gotten ourselves into?”
I don’t know.
She looks back and says, “What does that mean, damn it? …you know what? It… it… fuck it, it doesn’t matter.”
That is a true thing.
She She calls out and says, “The two of you down there. What do you want?”
Well, I’m actually so I’m gonna have to get out of the car. Because that’s the only way that she’s gonna be able to hear me. I will get out and I’m gonna have to get close because again, that’s the only way that she’s gonna be able to hear me assuming that she’s not picking up the radio signals. So I’m gonna I’m gonna get out. I’ve got my my blade slinger over the side, and I start moving forward. I don’t have it aimed at anyone. When I get close enough that I think that they’d be able to hear me. Which I probably have to actually be partway up the side at least for that I think.
You’re you’re decently…
To get to the platform from the floor.
If you stand… the platform’s maybe just like a story up. Think of it like, like a raised pulpit at a church except that this room is in the round. So if you’re standing at the at the base of it, you can be heard pretty easily. Karloff might have to boost his voice as much as he can.
And yeah, this is the thing, is he has trouble with that. So it’s…
It wouldn’t sound… it wouldn’t sound good or feel ba- feel good. But you could probably be heard…
…okay, from down there, you’re able to hear the conversation that’s happening up the top real easily.
It seems like this, this, the acoustics of this room are good.
Yeah. It’s good acoustics. Okay, cool. So when I once I get down sort of the base then sort of looking up I just say, “Just wanted to make certain that someone who wants to reconnect with their past can,” I say gesturing to the the the… to Vake and Comet.
She takes a few steps a few steps away from y’all just… from from Vake and Comet to… it seems definitely like a tactical thing of like, “I don’t know if these people are going to attack me or not.” And she says, “Well, it’s a good day for it. I guess.”
I just sort of sort of sort of nod, tipping my hat, and I say, “Yeah, this is not… we work for Neiderdorf but this ain’t the job. Doing this in our spare time, you might say.”
Jones will inch his vehicle up about as reasonably close as it can get to this pulpit without having to try and violate the laws of gravity. And he’s just going to step out and stay next to his vehicle. I don’t think he’s quite that comfortable at all with any of this and doesn’t want to go too far. And he just gonna kind of look up and fold his arms and be like, “That has yet to be determined.” Just start rolling a cigarette.
Yeah, I just I do sort of, yeah, actually, I do sort of nod and I say, “Yeah, there is that element. It’d probably be a good idea if these two liked what they hear.”
To be fair, I have zero expectations here.
Hmm. Y’all are being much more receptive. Let’s see.
We’re lovers, not fighters.
And also, this isn’t the job so, so I don’t have a reason to kill anyone here.
I’m still tempted to kill everyone here.
I would have if you know, things go south. I wouldn’t mind killing everyone here. But you know, this…
It would be such a shame to get blood all over this nice, shiny spaceship.
I can’t even tread dirt on this thing. I doubt it’s gonna be able to get bled on.
That’s a nice spaceship you got there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.
What you need is Ego Driver insurance.
I don’t say any of that. That’s…
That is for the best.
She throws an arm out as if to gesture at the room around her and says, “Well, I don’t know what to say. I’m a little busy at the moment. But welcome to the 13th ship.”
Well, it seems we figured that out adequately.
Wait, wait. No, no, no, no, no, no. There were 12.
She says, “Look, I’m tired of you people telling the story your way. All right? There were 13 of us. You were so enamored with the power of your fallen world. Even all of it couldn’t destroy us entirely. And everything that you have now is thanks to the wreckage that you all picked over. This ship survived. And it’s going to survive, whether you like it or not.”
Jones just takes a long draft after that one.
I just kind of shrug.
If you’re from… I’m from… some other planet, are you trying to go home?
She kind of snorts. She says, “We don’t even know if there’s home anymore. That’s, that’s not going to be an option. We can keep it running, but we’re here for the long haul. It doesn’t have to be as bad as it is. We can clean the place up a bit.”
That is sorely needed.
Hey, you’re telling me. It’s awful down there.
So so do you want to tell me why if you’ve got this fancy spaceship that’s better than all of our tech that we got down there on… I think down there, I really don’t want to look out that window too much, because that really gives me the heebie jeebies. But if you got all this fancy tech and all this fancy power, why the hell do you got to come down and send her mom to go try and kill some of my buddies and take our stuff?
Look, we can’t get into who’s killed who, all right? We’ve all killed some people that were family of other folks. Your Mayor Leopold has something that we desperately need. And maybe I was wrong at the approach I took, but it was worth a shot to try and convince him before we did what had to be done. I’m not sorry I tried, but it’s a shame that it had to happen and that it didn’t work.
That doesn’t sound a lot like an apology. I mean, I’m not an expert.
It’s not… it’s… I said I’m not sorry. Get… Look. We’re taking Niederdorf’s core.
Ohhh… but what about all the people in Niederdorf?
Well, you know what? Maybe if Mayor Leopold had listened to us when we first came to him, that question will be easier to answer.
He is kind of a jerk.
Yeah, we would have had time to take it out more safely. But now we don’t have enough time left.
The ship’s core is, it’s sick. It’s been sick for… well, since, since the bombs. And you know how it is with radiation and tumors, it just keeps spreading. And at this point, we’re going to need to do a transplant.
How do you know that it’ll work? I mean, what if you just muck up your only available functional core, and then everybody’s fucked.
We don’t have an option. This core isn’t gonna last longer. And there are folks here who can’t go down there. They haven’t been recreated. It would be constant torture.
Uh, all all, all parts.
Haven’t been recreated. Constant torture.
We’re not human. We’re not from your world. We’re not grown to live down there.
Now you’ve gone back too far. We got that part.
It takes… it takes time and resources to make us able to live on Earth.
Okay, so I kind of get you now. What you’re saying is, you make people able to live on Earth, and then you just kick them out of your spaceships and you say, fuck off and figure out this ugly planet for your own self. And then you… I don’t know, get yourself all upset when you need something from the people living out there?
In that terrible world?
Will you stop pressuring me? Look. I don’t know what your situation is…
I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Maybe Maybe you’re one of the early you’re you were in one of the early pods and something went wrong. Maybe you were in cryo sleep in one of the other ships. Look, I’m sorry. All right? It’s got to be shitty. I know what it’s like down there. But right now we’ve got children. We’ve got all sorts of people who need that core. And we’re getting it.
You keep saying that.
And then if one of you glances up at the windows, you can see that that sliver of planet in the window has moved. It’s now filling more of the window and is much larger.
What’s up with the skylight?
She says, “We’re going to pay a visit to your place of employment.”
They’re gonna go get the core.
They’re gonna go kill everyone down there.
Not everyone, only the unavoidable. We’re thinking 100, maybe 1000 people.
Yeah, but then once you take the core…
Once we take the core what there’ll be just as bad off as your people in that mine? Or the folks who drive around the wasteland? It’s not my fault they’re not ready for the world they live in.
Karloff finds himself nodding.
We’ll help out how we can if the transplant works all right, but I can’t worry about them. I gave them their chance.
So when you asked before, what did you say? I mean, can’t you… why can’t you just get some big jumper cables or something? Lay them all the way down to Niederdorf and… you know both… Isn’t there enough power in one of these things for one half broke spaceship and one shitty city?
Look, I I get it. It sounds jacked. The whole system really sucks. But this isn’t… this isn’t a car battery. This isn’t something that we can just get a boost from. The ship needs a core. It’s, it’s not… if you if you met him, you know that our technology doesn’t work the same way as yours. Everything works together. We can’t even take one of the other cities’ cores. This is the only viable one. This is the only one that’s compatible.
Why is why is that?
It’s… do you all know about organ transplants? There’s…
Actually, a little bit!
Well, you know these things. There’s all sorts of things that are different from one host to the next. The ships were all different and Niederdorf’s ship is the only one that will fit ours.
How much space is in this ship? Can’t, can’t you just, you know… What if all the Niederdorfian just moved on here? We seem to have no trouble existing in this, this place. So if you guys can’t go out, why don’t you just build onto the ship some more and, you know, maybe take the core and be like, “You guys come too!”
I can’t take it. These people, they took a core that was ours. They’ve been living off of it for generations. Hoarding it. I mean, they’re not even sharing it among your species.
They’re just keeping it for the city. And so now we should, even after the… even after we gave them the chance, we should take them on board? Fuck that.
I mean, I know you’re talking about sort of big, like, big level kind of stuff. But honestly, I think Comet would be in a better mood with you if her mom hadn’t been like, “I’m not your mom” and then tried to kill us with some, like techie coin. I’m just tossing that out there.
Yeah. You’re not wrong.
Yeah, I got you.
I resist the urge to give Vake an affirming pat.
She says, “Hey, you know what? You tell me I’m wrong, you’d better be able to prove that you’re right. Because the way I hear it, you came in attacking her.”
If she defends herself and doesn’t have a kid, what fucking fault of it is hers?
Uh, we 100% did not attack her
Just all the other people.
I mean, honestly, I was pretty cool with the person that I was hanging out with.
“Uh, yeah. He’s been having a rough time of things. Seems like getting attacked in the way he did and betrayed…” No, not betrayed.
Betrayed by someone you’ve known for for three seconds…
He was never betrayed, you hit him initially. She says, he said, “Seems like getting hit the way he did, he wasn’t quite as cut out for combat as he thought he was. So he doesn’t have the same opinion of you.”
I’m glad that Vake was able to set him on a new path.
You start to hear a very, very, almost subsonic vibration, and there’s a red tinge around the windows as the planet grows larger and larger in them.
So, um… not to put a pause on this quite heated conversation. But I got to get this in here at some point. Um, how far as the as the mole machine travels are we from said critical power supply? Cuz Jones is starting to run out of tolerance.
You think that if you if you just drove straight through… Now, knowing for sure that this is a spaceship, you’re I mean, you’re not sure what the result of that would be, but…
I’m pretty sure he assumes the result is his death. But I think in his mind, he’s seeing a chance to finish the alien threat that fucked up the planet so many years ago. Doesn’t matter that we were the ones that caused the nukes. It’s these are the aliens that did it in his head. I’m just wondering.
It would only be a few minutes. Like, like I said, this is this is about the size of a small town. So you can imagine like driving less than a mile to get to, to the core.
So something has occurred to me that… I’ve been trying to figure out how to motivate Karloff bringing up because Karloff doesn’t really care as much. But there’s like a something and also I’m not entirely sure if I heard it correctly when it came out in a previous encounter. So I this may not be entirely correct. But I think um, well, that correct me if this is not right, but this is what I think that we heard earlier. I was just going to sort of casually as it’s going on, just sort of say, “You know, her Ma,” he says, pointing at Comet, “From what we understand, took some liberty with those negotiations. Might not have gone quite as you think it might have?”
She says, “From the way I hear it, things went pretty south. And I’m not gonna blame her for that. You’ve, you’ve met Leopold. Right? You know… how much you know about his history? Because it’s not… You don’t end up in charge of a city like that… Look, we had to try. We didn’t want it to come to this.”
What I’m saying is your reps didn’t… your reps didn’t try. They decided to go on the offensive from the get go.
Remind me of all this information? This is…
Yeah, I’m not completely sure I have this right. That’s the thing.
I think I think that could be a reasonable interpretation. The the, you’re, I mean, you’re getting a bunch of different stories from different people. The the order, that’s the impression.. I… so so what what this woman seems to think happened is that these folks talked to Mayor Leopold, asked for access, or asked asked to have the core. The Terror Engine, presumably. And that when Leopold said no, Billie Jean attacked to the mine as a way of putting pressure on him, and that it didn’t work.
See, I’m remembering that a character whom we’re not referring to as Thriller told us that Billie Jean skipped that step and just went to the attack. But I don’t know if I’m actually remembering that correctly.
Um, I don’t think that they said that explicitly. But they, they also didn’t seem too hot on Billie Jean’s approach.
There was something I think it’s like that they intimated about about Billie Jean about that they that the ability to done something to kind of jump the gun. Basically, that was the impression I got.
I am fine with the game of telephone, I think in this case.
I’m not sure. And, you know, the I mean, they were dying at the time when they were telling us as well…
So it wasn’t entirely clear. “All right, just thought that I’d bring that up, in case you want to make sure you’ve got your processes in check before you go flattening a place. Not that I particularly care one way or the other. But that’s, that’s that’s what we had if you want it.”
Well, at this point, their best hope is just to not put up too much of a fight.
So I have a question about something that Zoë has mentioned a couple of times, about the difficulty of getting emotionally invested in characters in short campaigns. Now, given that Tabletop Garden is kind of all about short campaigns, what do you all think about the impact on short form versus long form roleplay and one shots versus extended campaigns when it comes to being able to ease into a character or the process of figuring a character out?
Well, one of the advantages I find about the short form style is that you aren’t invested in a character you’ve spent the last two years carefully crafting with 1000 different memories. With someone you’ve only played for a handful of hours, it’s a lot easier to, to let them go if you have a bad roll of dice, or if you realize that, you know, scenarios just doesn’t make sense for your character, you and you want to switch to a different one, it’s, I find it easier in the short form.
And I think when you have a longer campaign, then… or even just something that’s a bit longer than a one shot, if you go for multiple sessions, then you have time in between your sessions, even, to think about your character and get more invested in things. And so I think with short campaigns, it does happen for me a little bit. I sort of developed Karloff’s story in my head from session to session, and each time I had a little bit more of it. And so, I think there is a potential for a lot more to happen, obviously. But then also, just with a thing that is just a one shot, you’re trying to tell the entire story right then. So you are gonna take crazy risks and just sort of go for everything.
Yeah, I hadn’t thought about the the importance of the time between sessions for character development. But you’re totally right that that that brainstorming, that’s something that happens for me as well.
And that’s something that I’m not very inclined to do. Because I feel like I feel like everything is homework, and having a, you know, already blocking off three hours, four hours a week to do something past all the initial character development, I, I forget to think about it, because I think I’m already done. And since I’m used to the longer format campaigns, I don’t, I don’t feel the need to think in excess, about the other characters that I’ve created. Because already I don’t know, I kind of kind of know what sort of choices they’ll make. And then here, I feel like this decision paralysis, because I haven’t done all that thinking, like “Oh, god, I don’t know what she would do.” Because I haven’t played out all of those different scenarios in my head. So I don’t know if that’s just being being too busy to fully live my, my fantasy world the way I would want to live it.
I think it’s definitely a matter of like, personal style, like, I think there are totally folks who, even in long term campaigns, they, when it’s, you know, it’s time for the for the session, it’s time for the session, and that’s when you go into gaming mode. And then there are those of us who, who sometimes spend more time out of game than in game thinking about their character and, you know, come up with theme songs, and I, you know, write…
…fiction about it or whatever. Yeah,
I can, I guess I’ll take the counterpoint. Because I feel pretty much as invested in a short term character as I do in a long term character personally. Maybe I just because I engage emotionally, I think, quickly. In, in fact, I think the only difference for me like in a long term campaign is I often have to think really hard about the mechanics, right? And how I’m going to level up and how I’m going to reflect how my character is changing mechanically. And so it’s kind of fun when you don’t have to worry about that kind of stuff, just to think about portraying the character because I’ve already done the mechanics. So I think there’s something kind of liberating about the short term version.
I like, I like your point about the emotional attachment, Lucy, and I think that I feel the opposite way from you because I, I don’t get emotionally attached to my characters very quickly. Like, I feel like with with fantasy and reality, it takes a long time getting used to before, like, in one of my games, I think that the other players like my character more than I do. Not that I don’t, I don’t like her, I think she’s great. But it’s taken like a year and a half to be like, “Oh, no, this is a pretty cool character.” Even though I’ve been invested with it for so long. And I don’t, I don’t think it’s a matter of like, “Oh, I did a bad job building this character” or whatever. I think it is just an attachment thing. That’s a very interesting point.
Well, and you know, I actually, I’m thinking about it, too. And I don’t know if this is true or right or not, but it does strike me that is sort of like, I practice it all the time, right, in that I’m a teacher. And so I teach this by semesters, right? So I get a whole new flock of people who I have to form relationships with, you know, like, three, four or five times a year. And so that, you know, that’s something that I practice constantly is how to do that, right? How to manage that kind of short term engagement. So, yeah.
That’s really interesting.
Is there, do you, do y’all find that when you’re thinking about creating characters for a short term campaign versus a long term one when you’re doing that initial ideation is there…? Do you have a different approach based on the length of the campaign?
I do. Um, I think that… I was just thinking about this. I, when I am doing a character for a longer term campaign, and some of this is a function of just how much time passes and how much time I have to do things, but I think that if it’s one of those campaigns where the ending is far away enough that I don’t see it immediately in front of me, like, I know, it’s going to be more than just a handful of sessions, then that’s where I’m going to do more research, if I want, if I want to, if I need to, for if I’m basing the elements of the character on something, or well, where I’ll want to create more details, for the character for their background. Just sort of figure out how they would work, how they would function in the world, that kind of thing.
The attachment part, also, for me happens more, the longer I go with a character, but that’s really not a function of how long the campaign is, per se. Or rather, if I know at the outset, it’s long or short, it doesn’t matter for attachment purposes. I you know, each session I play, I grow slightly more attached to the character. But yeah, as far as just prep goes for, for this, for this campaign, for example, I knew it was just going to be a handful of sessions. So I didn’t go hugely in depth with Karloff, I didn’t look up a bunch of stuff, or try to figure out how, you know, a lot of aspects of his life would work necessarily. I wanted to still portray him realistically, so I did that sort of, you know, character work in my head. But I didn’t go sort of deep into detail on that. Whereas just as con-, whereas just by contrast, there’s a character that I play in a game set in present day, who’s a doctor, and I’ve been playing him for a while now. And I want to sometimes figure out how certain elements of his life are going to work. So I have to look up medical stuff. So that I can sort of figure out how do just what sort of things you would have to deal with. And so you know, that kind of thing.
One of the things I know I chose to do when I was building this character, was I chose to stop working on his accent. Those people who are no doubt listening to the podcast all at once, will see that his accent has kind of fluctuated. And those of you guys who I’ve worked with in some of my other stuff, you know that a lot of my characters have some fairly complicated or hidden foreign or least hopefully consistent accents as I work them. And I kind of made the decision, you know, after spending an hour or so playing with various different twangs and drawls and age-ification to the voice, the this just wasn’t something we’d be doing for a long time. And I wasn’t going to put in the significant effort. Because, you know, as many of us have commented, your joy, your your connection to your character will grow each and every step you do, but something like vocalization, speech patterns acts and stuff like that, those usually require a lot of upfront preparation, so that you’ve decided, this is how the character is going to sound and so that you can keep that consistent. I don’t know, I just I just remember thinking sometime around Christmas, I was like, you know, this is a short campaign, I really shouldn’t spend more than an hour or two trying to decide roughly how he should sound.
I mean, I think that makes sense for just just a matter of like, you know, how much prep time versus how much play time there’s a, there’s sort of a trade off there. And we’ve got other stuff going on in our lives. That means that that, you know, sometimes it’s like, yeah, this is good enough.
Thinking back to building building characters with future plans in mind. I I’m only now starting to realize, as I am a novice role player, that you can even do that. It’s like, oh, man, you mean I could, I can like skip ahead in the book and see what happens later? Like to make decisions now so that I can do those things? Whoa! Though, that which is really well suited.
1000 people on a on a D&D character optimization forum just had their heart skip a beat in terror when you said that.
Yeah, Yeah, exactly.
Like, yeah. I mean, there’s some some basic stuff that I’ll think about, like, basic stuff like, Oh, yeah, probably doesn’t make sense for me to dump all of my points over here, because that’s not the thing I’m going to use very much, probably. But beyond that, not not a whole lot. But that’s kind of fun. Because then every time every time your character advances you get to like, kind of go back to the drawing board, because you have no plan whatsoever. That so I feel like that is a well suited attitude for for a short campaign, and I didn’t feel hindered by it at all in this setting.
I still felt attached to Vake. I would have been sad if they died.
I feel attached to Comet even though I don’t I don’t know her very well yet. I think she’s pretty cool. I think Vake’s also really cool and Karloff and Jim sorry, not Jim.
We don’t want him to die!
And I very much appreciate that.
Jones Jones is what I meant to say, Karloff and Jones.
So I think we’ve reached the moment that I’m going to switch to the OOC statement since this is somewhat collaborative storytelling. I think this is the point where Jones is going to get back in his vehicle and drive off with, out of character, full intent to try to destroy this ship. I’m not sure where you three stand on that or if that’s something you would, you know, if you guys are like “no” and would try and stop him… I’m I’m approaching this as OOC, since this is a potentially heavily derailing, or perhaps re railing depending on what the intent was, of what’s going on. So I just want to open a a brief side conversation before I got in and started barreling.
I feel pretty sympathetic. I don’t know if Comet feels sympathetic. But you know, with the with it with a short, spanning role playing game. It’s it’s harder to separate the feelings of your moderately poorly fleshed out character with yourself. Yeah, I don’t know. I I do feel pretty sympathetic. But I also don’t see a solution to the conflict.
I have a slight idea. But I don’t know if it’s, again, I… the trouble with me playing the character that I’m playing is I don’t know if my character would actually care enough to present the idea. But I guess I could find a way to motivate it.
So what kind of story do we want to tell here? I am. I am down for anything from y’all chatting OOC about about how to resolve it to having a fight amongst yourselves to all going against…
I guess that’s the first question is, do any of the three of you feel you would be in a position to try to stop him when he just gets in his vehicle and drives off? Declaring fuck this?
I think… maybe.
I really don’t think he’s got a great chance against everyone on this ship trying to stop him.
Well, no. I don’t mean even just by. By that I’m just as in terms of like physically trying to stop him but more just sort of saying, hang on a second. Let’s try this one thing real quick. And whether he wants to listen to that or not, that’s then that’s up to you. And then we would we would go down that route if you like.
So one motivation here that Karloff would care about is you are pretty darn sure that if Jones goes to damage the ship, and you don’t make it off, that is the end for you.
Yeah, I mean, that’s the other thing is is like well, “He’s doing that, it’s time to leave.” So I mean, that’s that’s the what would be a primary.
Well, so, I guess I want to get a little bit clearer on what it is everybody kind of wants out of this conclusion. So yeah, like, what, what what do you all want out of this? Like, do we want to fight each other?
I don’t particularly. But…
I don’t think…
…it’s happened in enough parties I’ve been in.
No, I mean, I, I’ll say that my thought is that I could potentially we could offer to, and I’m just gonna go ahead and state this out of character instead of waiting for the dramatic moment here. But I’ll say that we could offer to… the the idea I had was to offer to just give us one… ask the alien person to give us, let us go and just complete the negotiation for them or take a stab at it. And then, you know, if that goes south, and they can blow the city off the map.
That’s a great idea, because we’re really good at negotiation.
As we’re showing right now.
So, I mean, you could probably convince her to hire you to kill Leopold, and give her control of the city.
Now that’s a thought.
If you took over Niederdorf, you could…
That will still result in her taking the core and leaving, which will shut pretty much all of us down.
Yes. But there would probably be fewer deaths.
Yeah, I think that’s that’s definitely something that… Yeah, that sounds like something Jones definitely would not want to happen.
But I mean, I know we state that many of these other places are making out of survival. But I’m pretty sure a lot of the electrically powered equipment or vehicles and whatnot, are still needing that T- that Terror Engine, if nothing else in proximity to them to continue functioning.
Oh, yeah, it would be real, it would be real shitty. Having that taken away. Yeah.
I’m not gonna say humans can’t survive, but I’m pretty sure we’d be knocked back to the Stone Age again, or have to retreat to one of the other 11 towns or so.
Yeah, you’d be, if if you did not negotiate like access to the to the engine? Yeah, you’d be, it would be real real rough and a lot of people and there definitely be be fallout from that. You know, you lose access to medicine, to power, to stuff that helps crops grow.
But but we could try to negotiate access is what I’m hearing.
Yeah, I think that that sounds better than lots of people in Niederdorf dying and possibly like, it seems like if they’re going to go through with this transplant thing. If they’re doing it under less duress, it’s more likely to be successful. So at least someone will win instead of everyone in Niederdorf dying and the Terror Engine being rejected by its new host because it’s in the middle of conflict.
I think that given the focus of this campaign, I would want to leave like the final results of said negotiation up in the air.
But I think that a like a temporary truce of like, we’ll keep the ship around. And at least for a little while, until we figure out how to make this work could probably be done.
I’m into it. Also Leopold is a silly man and probably isn’t a very good leader anyway.
He’s a very effective and efficient leader.
He’s a, he’s a he’s a jerk.
He always achieves his quarterly goals.
We need him on that wall!
I can’t handle the quarterly TPK reports.
Is that something that that everyone would be down with?
So I’m hearing and I’m good with this. That that’s the path you three want to go down. Um, I don’t think it’s a path Jones will. And I am good with the storyboarding of him saying “fuck it” and trying to kill her and someone taking him out beforehand. But I don’t think in his head he’s willing to negotiate with the aliens for the loss of what makes their world exist.
And another way that I see this possibly going is if Jones does take off toward trying to smash the ship and we realize that what he’s doing, then I know that for my part, anyway, is that Karloff would want to get off the ship ASAP and would only try to confront and stop Jones if Vake and Comet wanted to do that, insisted on doing that instead of leaving. Because they’re really the only people on the thing that the Karloff cares about at all. He also cares about Jones, he doesn’t want Jones to get killed either, but you know it’s like it’s not gonna stop him from doing what he wants to do.
Yeah, I mean if the ship got blown up by our our rogue companion that would that would remove our need to make a decision about negotiating or not.
I’m good with whatever I’m good with whichever way it goes but yeah.
It sounds like one way this could go is Jones goes off on his own immediately and Vake and Comet decided to stop him and Karloff comes along with them. We could also set it up so that that offer happens first so that she offers to hire you and then Jones is like “fuck this,” if if that feels like better motivation. Ir if you you don’t want to be… like we don’t we don’t have to play out that combat if we don’t want to.
I would prefer storyboarding. I the way this system works three on one I know I can’t win.
Especially not now that I’m super strong.
But if if you don’t like how that feels, an alternative sounds like a tragic thing of Jones going off to stop it. You all fleeing and the kind of Niederdorf being saved and the ship being lost is another way that could go.
I’d be fine with that too.
Mm-hm. That seems the most dramatic,
Because one of the things I realize is Jones has a portal key.
And I don’t think it would be unreasonable for him to sneak sneak it into Comet’s car, like on the like hanging from the dash from the windshield. Or you wouldn’t have a rearview mirror would you? But hanging from the car.
Sneak it, sneak it into the your car while he’s pacing, quote unquote, and trying to decide what to do about this.
It is unlikely that I would notice that.
I mean, we could we could have it be a dramatic notice.
I mean, he he’s not incredibly subtle. But I’m sure he could, you know, maybe decide to be subtle enough to say, “Alright, screw this. I’m just going to go take a walk. I’m going to go take a walk and clear my head” and get in the car and drive off and at least get some distance before people realize what he’s doing. So it’s not like blatantly obvious.
Which makes more sense for the flee rather than the shoot him before he gets out scenario?
I think I’d rather do anything other than personally killed Jones. Yeah. That’s that’s definitely not on my to do list.
Are we leaning towards the tragic loss of the ship? Then? What do you Lucy, you’ve been quiet for a bit?
Uh, well, I guess I sort of liked that one the least. Although, it is dramatic. I don’t know.
I mean, I think you y’all turning on Mayor Leopold would also be dramatic.
What if we do something a la Trigun? Is I’m not capable of taking out the ship. But I can disable it enough that it’s forced to land you instead of having to attack so the problem isn’t solved. But it’s still there. That way, I don’t kill everyone’s parents. I mean, you know.
So, Jones would go out in a blaze of glory and…
Just wouldn’t be quite as glorious as he thought.
And then we could possibly curtain call on you all heading to… I think you’d still, she’d still try and get you to take out the ship. Take out the, take out Leopold, if the ship wasn’t capable of helping, especially.
Yeah. That could work.
And then we could we could probably leave the result of that ambiguous, I think would maybe be most appropriate.
I like ambiguity.
Especially in a post apocalyptic world. No one wants a nice pretty bow on things in that world.
So sounds like Jones, going for the for the core. You all… trying to stop him? Not managing to stop him? Not figuring out what’s going on until it’s too late? And then
I think, yeah.
And then being recruited?
Lucy slash Vake, you really like this spaceship. I would, I would hate to see it get completely blown to smithereens on your behalf.
Well, Vake likes the spaceship. I guess. I’m just trying to figure out what would be a cool ending.
I can see that what Greg just suggested being a good way to do it sort of cinematically, where we can sort of just sort of montage it a bit and just tell everything right up to a certain point and then stop. And then we don’t know what happens after.
All right. Sounds like a plan then. Shall we play it out?
Yes. How how we do this?
All right. Um, I think we’ll let’s near we all kind of got the plan in our heads. Let’s narrate it out. And Ben can start with with his pacing, and go from there. And it’s I guess it’s up to y’all whether you want to whether you still want to do the leaving the… leaving the key behind. That could be a good tell for like, “Oh, he left the key. I know what he’s going to do.” Noticing it once he’s left.
Ooo. So so real.
In fact, maybe if Ben, if Jones says, fuck this, “I’m going home” and then leaves but it turns out he left the key. That might be a good dramatic reveal.
That’s actually a much better line than “I need a walk,” yeah.
All right. So let’s do our best to seamlessly pick up where we left off then with Ben.
All right. Jones is definitely getting very frustrated and probably has gotten through the majority of his cigarette by now. I think he’s, by about now he’s managed to find himself leaning up next to Comet’s vehicle.
Yeah, I think he’s gonna, so he’s going to open up the door. And he’s going to put the holokey, the little key disk thing, like onto the rearview mirror from the, hanging from the chain over there. And he’s gonna start heading back over to his vehicle. And he’s just gonna be like, “Look, Look, guys, this is all this is all well and good, but we’re getting really talky and I’m, I’m not good with this. So I’m just going to go head on back down. I’m going to… I’ll get out of here. Y’all just do what you’re doing. I’m going home. I’m done.” And I think at that point, he’s just gonna he’s just gonna get in his vehicle and drive off start heading back to where they came from… Mostly.
Don’t get lost!
And she she’s got a an angry face on it but she’s looking looking up at the at the window and then back down at her at her desk and seems to be coordinating whatever’s going down on the ground. And she just kind of makes a shooing gesture as if she’s glad to see him go.
Look, if if it’ll save lives to you know, have Niederdorf give up the core with less of a fight, why don’t you send us down there to do a little little more negotiation? I mean, Leopold’s expecting us back anyway. It’s not like they won’t let us in?
She says… huh, no. Huh? Okay. She says, “I almost can believe you’re her kid if you think that’ll work.” She says “No, at this point. I don’t even think that would that would help.” And Vake, you’re goggles off and alert. And you see just a little dangling bit of white in, in Comet’s windshield and with your eyes you can clearly see that Jones has left the portal key hanging there.
Okay, then everybody’s gonna just have to imagine Vake having a Keyser Söze kind of a moment where they’re connecting all of the dots. “Fuck. I don’t think he’s going home.”
And off in the distance, the sound of a drill machine tearing through the walls starts to be heard echoing down the halls.
And there’s suddenly a sound like a, like awful electronic static that flashes over the… like as if from a PA system filling the room and the the woman that you’ve been talking to like clutches her hands over her ears and screams and and says “That’s the, that’s the alarm!” She says, “Fuck!”
Vake also clutches their ears.
I’m running to the car to… I’m running to my to my death junker and trying to get on the radio.
I’m sure Jolissa is already on the radio.
I’m gonna try to get Jones if it’s there. “Jones!”
What do you want?! noise I’m kind of in a rush.
What are you doing?
I’m going home.
And she’s working on the on touching some controls. And we see through these curving white hallways, shimmering golden light shine along them, and the walls are changing and forming these these lines of black as lasers hum to life. But even though they occasionally are able to get a little pot shot up at the bits of Jones’s vehicle that poke through the walls, he’s mostly churning through infrastructure, and she’s increasingly swearing in a language that none of you know. She is trying to take his vehicle out and failing.
If anyone wants to know she is being quite vulgar.
Gee, thanks, Jolissa.
At one point she just screams and slams her fist on the console.
Hey, Karloff, if you guys want to get anywhere I left the keys in Comet’s car. You probably don’t have too much longer.
What’re you doing? You’re gonna get yourself killed.
Well, I didn’t have that many years left anyway. I figured going out riding an alien spaceship’s about as good a death I can come up with these days. I figured I was gonna get collapsed by a mineshaft.
I don’t think they’re worth it. But it’s your life.
And Jones’s drill punches through a particularly strong bit of plating. And in front of him he sees a shining golden light and blue shimmers start to form on corners and surfaces inside his vehicle. And strange metal blossoms start to form and he feels a strange itching and burning on his skin as he approaches whatever is at the center of this light.
Just sort of hopping into the car and starting up. like looking at the others like, “We gotta get out of here.”
Lady, the offer still stands but I guess I guess we’ll head out now, probably. Vake?
She’s not even paying attention to you right now. She’s frantically trying to save the ship.
Jones takes out his bag of explosives. Takes one of them, lights it up with what little bit left of his cigarette, and says, “This one’s for you, Martha. I’m coming home.” and drops the one explosive in the rest of the bag and and drops it right outside the vehicle. And waits.
And we see Jones’s vehicle hanging out of a hole in the side of an immense room. And just that golden light shining from the side and the single speck of explosive dropping down. And then you all hear a thump. And the lights flicker and go out.
Vake can see pretty well in the dark so they’re gonna go stand right next to Comet and whisper in their ear. “It’s very dark now.”
Oh. So headlights on.
I can’t even say anything. “Thank God. I thought I died.”
Karloff’s headlights illuminate that dais. And that woman is standing there just slumped, just completely defeated. And then she suddenly lurches into motion and just kicks angrily at the side of the desk and a piece of the paneling just shatters and flips off into the darkness. And then, a moment later, there’s a little blue shimmer that gleams around you in the in the room and little sparkles of blue are shimmering in the darkness. And you see above the stars through the skylight, slowly drifting and turning and then you see the land below you as the whole ship is slowly rotating. And little traces of blue light follow down hallways and over the holes in the side of of the walls were Jones punched through and we see them creep up some wreckage, that’s the remnants of Jones’s vehicle in that room and up to where the core was, and then fade away and all the blue dims.
And we see from a distance, the city of Niederdorf, and hanging in the sky, too far away to do anything, this ship slowly spinning and drifting and hovering in place. Helplessly, impotently. And the woman looks up at the at the window and looks down at the rest of you. And she says, “I guess that’s it. I guess… I guess he was right. I guess it was always going to turn out this way.”
Who are you talking about?
She says, “You never you never knew his name, did you?”
That that that guy?
Yeah. Fuck, I bet you’d like it that way.
He is really good at speeches. I feel kind of bad about interrupting him the first time.
She says, “We’ve got air, but not for long. Maybe a week? And then we’re all gonna suffocate and then this thing will fall out of the sky.”
Well have you considered landing?
She says, “We don’t have movement. It’s either stay still, anti-grav, or fall.” And the the ship comes around again in its rotation and you see the the city of Niederdorf in the distance through the window at a at an angle that makes you all suddenly and momentarily understand viscerally that you are standing upside down hanging over the planet. And then the ship continues turning and she she spins and she says, “I’ll give you anything. You’re mercenaries, right?
Well Karloff, you want to go ahead and discuss our rates?
He sort of heads forward, yeah.
He’s kind of the money guy.
We’ve, we do have an opening for a job right now as it happens.
We’re gonna have to talk currency because I don’t think Niederdorf coins are going to be worth much when we’re done. I want you to kill that motherfucker.
Well, two things. First. Can whatever currency you give us. Can you make it glow in that way? Yeah, I think you know the way I’m talking about.
She says, “I have no fucking idea what you’re talking about.”
“The kind that lets it pass through solid objects and take out a man’s kidney,” I say and I should and I show a scar. I just pull up my shirt and I show the scar where the coin entered my body.
Karloff, don’t forget hits are double.
That was item two.
She says, “You need supplies, I’ll do what I can. We don’t… we have to improvise when it comes to weapons.”
We we got we’ve got some of those.
I think mainly what we’re gonna need is a way to get down to the ground.
I can probably get enough power for a portal. I can’t guarantee you’re gonna like how this is gonna go.
Uh, yeah, you and everyone else.
We got a deal, then?
It’s part of the job.
Simple question. Can you pay us in tech?
She says, “You can have whatever we can spare.”
Right and I believe we do have a deal.
And we see Mayor Leopold standing in his office. He’s dressed in one of his normal suits, but he’s hurrying over to one of the bookshelves that he has up that have the real paper pre war books on them. And he throws open a cabinet at the bottom of it and he reaches in and he pulls out a huge shotgun and he quickly, but without fumbling, loads shells into it and then moves to look out the window at the smoke rising from the gate of Niederdorf.
And we see it the gates the guards of Niederdorf in their uniforms, at full attention, fighting, taking shots at Jacko Gang members who are hunkered down in huge numbers behind stones and taking cover behind their cars and driving in circles around the town. And through that circle the three of you come racing, throwing up a big cloud of dirt, and the guards wave you through.
Comet walks in through the through the first set of checkpoints into the mayor’s office and shows shows her little ID badge. “No, it’s me, it… No it’s it’s really… no it is me. Karloff, it… Karloff, it’s me right?”
The receptionist looks looks you up and down and says, “Wow. Ms. Sharps. You You really hit a growth spurt, didn’t you?”
You, uh, you looked out the window anytime recently?
Oh, well, I’m sure that now that you’re here, we’ll be all right.
Well, I’m just saying a lot. A lot of strange stuff’s going on. But um, there’s anything left at the end of the day, you want to go get a couple of corndogs by the lake?
She She smiles dreamily and says, “Corndogs sound amazing.”
I give her a firm pat on the shoulder. “Hey, is the boss around?”
She says, “Yeah, yeah, he’ll be glad to see you.”
Well, it’s no rush. No rush.
Vake, by the way, is now wearing one of those very, very soft denim, white jackets and is somewhat less bandaged than normal. So they’re gonna pop the color on that jacket and then bust right into the room. Mayor Leopold’s room.
Leopold whips around as you throw the door open and relaxes a little bit as he sees it’s you and he says, “Why the hell are you in here? You should be out there fighting those animals.”
I’m here because I have a really important question and I can’t move forward until I have the answer.
He says, “What?”
What is the fucking codename for the head of the Jacko Gang? Tell me now.
He says, “What? I don’t I don’t know. We’ve never been able to find out?”
I swear to you, I will flip this desk.
Why the fuck does their code name matter?
Because it’s the only thing that matters!
I think I think it’s Jim’s turn, because I don’t think that… I know that Leopold doesn’t know.
Okay. So if Leopold refuses to answer, then I’ll just sort of come in and Karloff will take off his sunglasses and put them in his pocket. Just sort of just sort of with a slight grin on his face. As he lowers his his, his blade slinger. And he says, “One more thing, Leopold.” You see him raise his blade slinger. He says, “We resign.” And you see him firing it as a circular saw blade comes hurtling out.
So any anything else that folks want to mention about the campaign?
I’m gonna need some, like some kind of audio file with Zoë and Jim doing bossa nova beats.
Could be our outro.
I I honestly did not think that playing a crazy old minor driving a mole machine would actually be one of the most normal people in our game.
I think my biggest… I really enjoyed this game as a whole a whole lot. I wish that I had thought more about the the moral implications of the the the role, or the the position that my character was in and would be in. I think that having having a few more moments of world building, like pre character development would have been helpful for me because I felt way more sympathetic. And like my character possibly would have been more sympathetic. And I don’t know it was it was a weird, a weird thing to get thrown into where initially, I was like, “Oh, yeah, we’re fighting bad guys. Cool. No problem.” But then, after learning more about the world, through gameplay, and things that I think probably I would have known in character, I feel like I would have made different decisions and acted differently, not like drastically different decisions, but it would have been easier to get in the, get in the zone.
Well, to go behind the scenes a little bit. That was definitely deliberate manipulation on my part. I definitely was trying to get you all to not realize at first, that the situation was… I mean, I don’t know that it was that complex, but it definitely wasn’t just cops and robbers. And I, I was, I was definitely being a little manipulative, well, decently manipulative, to to, to provoke that kind of, of arc that is maybe unrealistic, but is is, I guess, melodramatic. And that such such a transformation to get such a transformation to happen in a short time as this campaign, I definitely tricked y’all a little bit.
That’s reasonable. Just, it was a there were moments when I just felt confused, because I was like, wait, why am I doing this? I don’t think that I want to do this. But I mean, I’ve already started.
I think that’s, I think that’s an experience people have in real life. I mean, I think a lot of a lot of like, moral realizations start as, “Wait, why am I doing this?”
Well, with with that in mind, I appreciate it.
I, for my part, I had a really good time. And yes, as far as the moral question goes, I was playing a character with very, very, very little in the way of a moral compass. Just had basically just a few, just just a few pillars, and that he stood on and that was it. And so I was just having a good time with it. And I expected there to be curveballs because it’s you.
I enjoyed seeing Karloff be unexpectedly principled, I guess? Like seeing him feeling for for Comet and somewhat for Vake was interesting.
I and that’s the thing also that I think goes back to the idea that I got more attached as we kept going. I think I enjoy Karloff more in the final session than in any of the other sessions. Just because I get to the point where it’s like, “Okay, well now I figured out how he can have a little more of a sense of humor from time to time, and I can figure out just sort of how, you know, when he’s not in a situation where he’s immediately fighting for his life, how he’s going to react to things” and, and I got to get my sliver of backstory in, which was awesome.
And that’s really all that I wanted.
I actually thought I thought you had really a great moment in the last session when you That moment when you said, I think it is really important to know where you came from…
…or something like that. It just felt, I don’t know, I felt something.
Yeah, no, that was that was that where as some of the backstory was starting to come in a little bit just because of who he is. And just the fact that you know, he was taken taken as an orphan raised by this group of crazy people out in the desert who race each other to the death. And, and that sort of that affects you as you grow up. And so it was, it was cool getting to see then that how he would then see that Comet had an opportunity to actually reconnect with her past. And that’s it was like, “Okay, I never had that!” So that was really cool. I think, I think for him and for me, so I had a really good time with it. And I got still to overall to play a gloriously cartoony, Mad Max Death Race character, which is always something I’m up for.
Definitely. I was I was saying at the start of this recording session that I felt a little bad that Jones hadn’t gotten as much kind of narrative prominence. But, uh..
Ben, Ben solved that issue very well.
Nothing like death solve the issue of narrative promise.
He got to go out heroicaally. And I think actually a lot a lot more people would have died had he not done what he did.
We will, but we never know what’s gonna happen now. You know, the place to stop the story.
Who knows, sometimes a little murder will will cut violence short and sometimes it just keeps on going. Well, thank you all very much for participating in this campaign with me. I’ve had a lot of fun.
Big Eyes Small Mouth third edition was created by Guardians of Order. The theme music for this campaign is “Wasteland” by Phantom Elite, available under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial No Derivatives license. For more Tabletop Garden and to subscribe to us visit: tabletop.garden And to support the work I do, visit patreon.com/GregoryAveryWeir
dee dee dee dee dee dee dee
dee dee dee, dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee.
I am definitely dancing.
duet with Jim I um… I highly…
loudly interrupts Zoë with more bossa nova Sorry, go ahead.
No, it’s, it’s good.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai