He is more than a hero
He is a god in my eyes — / The man who is allowed / to sit beside you — he
who listens intimately / to the sweet murmur of / your voice, the enticing
laughter that makes my own / heart beat fast. If I meet / you suddenly I can’t
speak — my tongue is broken; / a thin flame runs under / my skin; seeing nothing,
hearing only my own ears / drumming, I drip with sweat; / trembling shakes my body
and I turn paler than / dry grass. At such times / death isn’t far from me.
- Sappho, fragment 31, circa 600 BC. Translated by Mary Barnard, 1958.
Hi, and welcome back to Tabletop Garden, 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 we are continuing our campaign of The Great Molasses Flood. If you’re enjoying this campaign, I would love it if you would rate us on your podcast platform of choice, whether that’s iTunes, or Google Podcasts, or whatever. Please tell your friends about us. And you can also be a great help by supporting me on patreon at patreon.com/GregoryAveryWeir.
If you’re listening to this episode a week early, because you’re already a patron, thank you very much. I really really appreciate the support there. Like usual our agenda is to honestly portray diverse characters, pursue healthy play practices and craft story with social responsibility. For this campaign, we’re also working to make our play consensus-based, story-focused, and improvisational.
And as a heads up for this episode, there is a raunchy poem. I would not call it explicit. But it does have some some pretty dirty language in it. So keep that in mind.
We now resume Tabletop Garden, the Great Molasses Flood.
So the three of you have woken up in this, this beautiful park with with ball fields and you see some strange play equipment that’s in primary colors and and you’re in this this, the north end of Boston. Exactly where you were, but new and shiny and with things you don’t recognize. And this person is standing in front of you in jeans and a red hoodie. And they say, “Welcome to 2019.”
They say, “Oh, sorry. Right. This is always hard.”
“Sam, I think what they mean is: we’re dead.” And Harmony’s going to get into the lotus position.
You’re not exactly… dead. Okay. Let me introduce myself.
Is this– what is this, like an afterlife of some kind? Is this, like, it’s a baseball afterlife?
That’s right. That’s right!
Is this somewhere where the Red Sox are finally a decent team?
“Okay, listen. So, my name is Ashley.” So before, you couldn’t tell the gender of this person. Now you, of course, know. They’ve got kind of a high voice. They’ve got a weird haircut, but you know that they’re a guy because Ashley is a guy’s name.
And he says, “You’re not dead. This is sort of a dream. Do you… have any of you read science fiction?” And you have no idea what that means. You’ve never heard that term before. And he says, “Wait, well, I say, sorry. Hold on. Adventure stories. Specifically, HG Wells. Have you read The Time Machine? No? Okay, hell.”
So if you think of time passing, right? Time passes, time flows like a river? There’s certain ways in which you could… If you imagine time flowing, just like that harbor out there, ways that you can skip ahead. Like you could take a bridge or like you could you could get on a boat and go upstream. That’s sort of what I’m doing and what I’ve helped you to do. Does that sort of make sense?
I’m sorry. We have literally just perished in molasses. You, standing here, in front of this bench, want to say something about it’s 2019, and then start talking about adventure stories. And then you say something… basically, you’re quoting Row, Row, Row Your Boat, and you’re like, is this sufficient? sigh
Well, I’m gonna talk more. But I just want to make sure that we’re good so far. You died in 1919. This is 100 years later, the same spot. And I brought you here so that I can talk to you and get your help.
Are we… were we drugged?
Is this… some sort of… What trick is this? How’d you– how’d you do it?
So it’s, it’s, it’s pretty complicated. You don’t have nearly the science needed to understand it. And I know, it’s really hard to believe, so… I understand you think it’s a trick. That’s just fine. But by the end of our interaction, or a little while afterwards, I think you’re gonna believe me. So. Are you fine with just kind of playing along for now and listening?
What… are we dead, or not?
No. Well, you won’t be.
Great. Can you put us back? Because we still got people to take care of.
I will, yes. And you won’t lose any time.
But I do want to talk to you first. Okay?
sigh Harmony’s gonna pull some cannabis out of her bag and start…
Just toking up in public.
Yes, rolling a joint.
He like at first is like, like, seems a little shocked. And like, looks at it and looks around. And then like, you see two different mental processes going on. One, your characters don’t really understand, which is like, “Oh, right. Cannabis is perfectly fine in 1919.” But he also like, looks at the street and then like, kind of laughs to himself as if like he’s afraid of someone seeing but then is like, “Ah, no one’s gonna see.”
And I’m just looking over at that and looking at Harmony and looking over at Sam and is just sort of like, “Hey, Sam, are you okay? What’s…”
I… I mean…
What happened to you?
You’re all completely uninjured. Completely clean.
I mean, I guess. I guess I’m okay. This is… this is a new one.
Were you caught up in that?
Was I in the flood? Yeah.
Oh, my god.
Yeah. I take it you were?
Oh, yeah. Right in the middle of it. I was at the firehouse.
Ashley kind of leans forward and says, “Did you see any men with paper skin?”
I mean, I saw you.
Yeah. But I don’t have… I mean, like, their skin would have looked weird. They would have been wearing like a yellow or white suit?
There was a guy who was was outside. It was out outside the firehouse. He was like, didn’t know… he had a sort of weird striped thing. He looked like he just gotten out of the gray bar hotel. It was for a little bit. He was talking to… I think he was talking to George…
For a bit.
And he pulls out that adding machine that you saw him with and is, like, poking at it, but like, it’s it’s like a little handheld box. And he’s kind of poking at it. But you don’t hear like any mechanism working. And he looks at him and he says, “George Layhe?”
“And George Lahey: did he get caught up?” You didn’t see Layhe in the fire station.
No, he ran out to… He ran out to talk to this guy. And I think that’s the last we saw of him.
What race is this person?
You have trouble placing him. Not white. Could be Italian or Spanish. Not black.
Okay. K. Carry on.
I offer a toke to anyone who wants it. Ashley included.
He waves it off. And he says there’s this group of people… creatures… I don’t know. We’re calling them the Cut-Up Men. We think they changed what was supposed to happen. You’ve heard of, like, destiny, or fate, or God’s plan, or whatever? We think that the Cut-Up Men changed things so that the flood turned out the way it did
Changed it how? And why?
They’re… the Cut-Up Men, they’re they’re sort of retrospective beings. They’re doing a readymade art piece. We think they sort of they sort of… You have no idea… None of… All this is after your time. They’re sick people who are making art out of your lives. They think that they can write a better story than the world can. And unfortunately, because of the way time works, I can’t stop them. But you all can.
So in the year AD 2019, it is possible for an art project to involve traveling the wrong direction in time.
Yeah, my people can’t do that. But the Cut-Up Men somehow can.
Your people from the east side? Or, like…?
Uh, I mean, I wasn’t… not… wasn’t born around here, but I’m a member of a group. It’s complicated. My body’s lying on a slab somewhere. You don’t…
We’re all kind of dreaming.
This is a counterfactual timeline. I can’t… The fact that we’re interacting makes it impossible. And so this is all going to go away like a like a… waking up from a dream. The only thing that we can transfer, that my people can transfer back and forth, is information. And so this is a way of me putting information in your heads for you to use back in 1919.
This group you’re a part of, is it an intentional community?
Oh, god. Harmony.
Think of it think of it more like a, like an activist group.
I’m, I don’t know, I’m sort of social… I’m…
Oh, no, more of this.
I don’t know about anarchism… I like anarchosocialism, but… Anyway, that’s, it’s not really politically… Well, it is politically oriented. We’re, I don’t know.
I mean, maybe that’s,
Do you have a pamphlet on you? Usually those clear it right up.
Ah, a manifesto.
Not here. Sorry.
I think we’re drifting from the point here a bit.
Well, it’s really important to understand where they’re coming from.
They’ve got newsprint skin… from what we can tell, we haven’t been able to talk to one. But from what we can tell from what they’ve done, they kind of think that, like, everything is is based on the context of the observer. And like, you all don’t matter, because because you’re dead in this time. Unless one of you, like, somehow… No. You’re all… No one could possibly live to 2019 with the ages you are. So because you’re all dead, and don’t really have an… I don’t really understand art. I just want to stop it.
Apparently, neither do I.
He says, “So. So yeah, Cut-Up Men interfered with that event, and you can solve it. And if we want it to stick, all I can do is give you information. So here’s the deal, you’re gonna go back to 1919. I’m going to send you there. You’re going to go back nine days before you left, okay? You’re going to come back on January 6. You’re not going to believe that any of this happened, you’re gonna think it’s a dream. You’re gonna I think I was doing some trick, you had a nightmare, whatever. Then, when you read the morning paper, and you read that Teddy Roosevelt has died, you’ll know that… There’s some information. You all remember.
“Teddy Roosevelt died, it was kind of a big thing. You’ll know that you had some knowledge of the future. At that point, you’re going to go to Copp’s Hill Burial Ground, that graveyard that you and I met on?” Points at Sam. “And work it out. Do what you can. Figure out what the Cut-Up Men are doing, figure out what they changed, and how you can stop them.”
How could we possibly figure out what they changed? We only know what we experienced.
Try and figure out what caused this. I mean, you saw what happened. You can investigate there. Unfortunately, the history we have is after the change. So I can tell you kind of the story the Cut-Up Men told, and you’re gonna have to do some sleuthing, I guess? I know none of you are detectives. But I think you’re the right people for the job.
I mean, sounds like diagnosing a problem and working out the kinks in the system. I can do that.
Do it all day every day.
I’m an anarchosocialist pamphlet writer, that’s practically an investigator.
Yeah! I mean, you’re good at looking at systems, right? Look at where the money comes from. Look at where the power is. Look who’s in control when it’s trying to exploit people. That’s the sort of levers that the Cut-Up Men are going to try and pull if they want to change things.
My job is to try and go into bad situations and save people. So… same thing.
“Great, then we’re all agreed. If you need information from me, you can send a telegram. All right? Send a telegram to… just write to Ashley. I’m going to give you the address you’re going to send it to. You don’t need to worry about the details. I’ll get it. And I’m going to give you an account number, the account number of the Rockefeller Foundation. It’ll only work for telegrams in this case, but it means you won’t have to pay, so… remember these numbers.” And he recites some numbers that weirdly stick in your head. Like, I don’t know if y’all would normally be good at memorizing numbers, but here you’re able to, like… They immediately stick there. And he says, “Try and be a little discreet with it. Every time you send a message it will create a counterfactual timeline that will collapse. And that’s kind of an existential nightmare, but it’s worth it in this case.”
You said Rockefellers. Aren’t they business people?
They they’ve got a philanthropic organization. It’s got enough money that no one will notice when a little bit’s missing. You won’t get in any trouble.
Yeah, yeah. We’re not worried about stealing from the rich. Did you say that you were going to tell us the story the Cut-Up Men had told you about what happened?
Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s a lot of details. And I don’t want to, I don’t want to color your investigation. So I prefer to only give you what you think is important.
So if… unless you’ve got any questions now, you can feel free to send me a telegram.
I mean, how do you know it’s not the way it’s supposed to be?
Ah… little details, stuff missing, things that that turn up too… too easy. We’ve got photos that show the Cut-Up Men on scene afterwards. They tend to leave little calling cards.
Can we see those? Will… then can you show us where they… Let us know where they’re gonna be?
“Sure…” And he says, “I mean, you got to understand, the stuff we’ve got is stuff that survived to 2019. So we’re talking news photos. So this is after… you left. But…” And he reaches into his… actually, into his back the back pocket of his of his trousers, and pulls out a newspaper. And it’s… it… the paper looks wrong. It’s it’s like, just just something about the weight of the paper looks wrong. It’s clearly on newspaper. But…
Are those ads in color?!
No, this is this is a black and… like this is this is the Boston…
Oh, that’s right. It’s from the time. That’s right. Sorry, I was I was thinking of a futuristic newspaper. Sorry, never mind. Forget that. Forget…
Added sepia tones…
“This is the Boston post.” And he, he offers it to you. And it’s the it’s tomorrow’s newspaper. He says, “You’re not going to be able to take that back with you. But feel free to take a look at whatever you want.” And and he points in the picture. And you see like among some ambulances and stuff… And this is probably a little bit troubling to y’all because it’s an aerial photo of the devastation. But he points it at one of the one of the figures and you can indeed see that like it looks from this photo, it looks like this person has been pasted into this photograph. Like it looks like this photo has been faked. And he says, “That’s what it’s like. That’s that’s what it’s been like.”
So, and you can see the headline: Huge Molasses Tank Explodes in North End. 11 Dead 50 Hurt. A lot, a lot of details. But it’s still like it’s clearly like the report of the reporters the day after. Trying to think of any hugely important stuff. One moment… Just pull up this actual paper. I guess one note that it says is that “‘An internal explosion was the cause,’ says state chemist.” There– kind of some experts have taken a look at it. And they think there must have been an explosion inside the tank.
Do they say what kind of explosion? Like what the type of explosive is, if any? You know, could have been temperature and pressure. But…
They think that it wasn’t dynamite. They think that the boiler inside the tank… that there was some sort of heating element inside the tank that that heated it and made it explode. But it’s still real preliminary. They’re not sure.
And you can certainly like flip through and if you want we… kind of later on you can be like, “Hey, when I skimmed through that newspaper, did I see anything about X?”
How about sports scores?
Or you can…
I say this is someone who was looking at the… there’s a hockey game on tonight that I’m not watching, so I have sports on the mind.
Yeah, you can certainly like get sports scores, get… like all that all that stuff.
I’ll pick whichever…
He doesn’t seem at all concerned about you looking at that stuff.
Whichever crucial baseball team New Englanders care about. Since there seem to be a lot of baseball things that New Englanders care about.
I know the Red Sox were operating at the time. I don’t know how they were doing, but I just assume that my character thinks they’re not good enough because you know, it’s a safe bet to assume that you’re basically… your favorite baseball team isn’t doing as well as you’d like.
So you you can get that information and come Thursday, January 16. You can make a bet that will make you a lot of money. He says, “Anything else?”
I feel like there probably is.
Alright, well, speak now, or send me a telegram.
Tell me a poem!
Yes. Something new.
I don’t know…
Something, uh… I’m gonna say queer?
That sounds good.
I think you just got him.
So I, I spent some time looking up poems related to molasses. And while I did not get good ones directly about molasses, I did find some good poems. So it was not a completely fruitless search.
Are y’all fine with a raunchy poem?
Are you fine with it? It’s your podcast.
I’m fine with it. I can put a content warning on this.
I might giggle like a child, but I’m good with it… if y’all are. A shrug from Jim.
All right. He looks at you and he says, You got to promise not to write this down. Do not publish it. This has to be between us.
What about spoken events?
No, do not perform it.
Okay. All right.
This can’t influence things.
Okay. I could do that.
He says, “All right. This is a piece by Marilyn Hacker.
Didn’t Sappho say her guts clutched up like this? / Before a face suddenly numinous, / her eyes watered, knees melted. Did she lactate / again, milk brought down by a girl’s kiss? / It’s documented torrents are unloosed / by such events as recently produced / not the wish, but the need, to consume in us, / one pint of Maalox, one of Kaopectate. / My eyes and groin are permanently swollen, / I’m alternatingly brilliant and witless / –and sleepless: bed is just a swamp to roll in. / Although I’d cream my jeans touching your breast, / sweetheart, it isn’t lust; it’s all the rest / of what I want with you that scares me shitless.
You can recite all these things in public?!
Sure– Yeah, yeah.
Hey, maybe the future ain’t as bad as we might think it was gonna be.
Lorenzo, you should come to a poetry reading with us sometime.
You should! There’s some good stuff.
Well, one step at a time, right?
I think… wow.
All right. Well, seems like as good of a benediction as any. Nice knowing y’all.
Nice… meeting you, I guess.
And he he turns and walks away and the the sun gets brighter. And all the sensory information just gets more and more. The smells, the the sound of distant traffic, the the itch of your sweat. And then you all wake up.
So, Lorenzo, where are you on January 6, when you read that Teddy Roosevelt is dead?
I live at the firehouse, right? Okay. So maybe I go out with one of the other firefighters on a run to pick up some stuff for the morning.
Okay. Just like some bacon and stuff?
Yeah. Yeah. Bacon and other bacon related things. And we’re at a newsstand. And that’s when I sort of look over at the paper and see that that’s in there. Was that the headline of the paper? Do you think? Or was it…?
Yeah, we’ll say so.
So I see that that’s the headline of the paper. And that’s where it sort of registers.
Did you think that it was just a dream until that point?
Yeah, I think up until that point, I thought it was… I thought it was a very bad dream. That turned into a very strange dream. And I was thinking that I should not have gone to that Picasso art exhibit when it was in town.
And then it just sort of thinking back and like, “Well, no, wait, that happened. Does that mean that happened, and that happened? And so…”
It’s probably pretty unsettling to walk out to do shopping past this huge tank that’s sitting intact outside your firehouse.
So, Harmony. Where are you when you see that Teddy Roosevelt has died?
Well, I guess that morning… Wait, 1919. Are there phones? Can you use a phone?
Yeah. You, you might have…
There may or may not be a phone where you live. Because you need to like pay.
Ah, well, Harmony would find a phone and call an auntie that morning and say, “Yeah… Do you remember when granddaddy like had those visions about seeing time travelers and how, you know, he had visions from the future and he ended up… He wanted to write that religious text, you know, um…?
Yeah, he said, angels…
Were telling him what, how things were going to turn out? Angels from from the year 1999 or something?
Yeah, yeah. That’s, like, I had this, like dream. And it was like that, you know? And I was like, this is what this is what granddaddy was talking about all that time. So anyway, like, how do you go about founding a religion?
Well, I’m not rightly sure. I mean, I guess you could read up on… Who’s the who’s the Mormon guy? Oh, my goodness. Harmony. Have you read the news?
Oh, well President Theodore Roosevelt died.
I… I’m… I’m s… I’ve got to go.
Are you okay, honey?
Um, yes. Um, yes. And I will talk to you later, auntie.
…where were you when you found out Teddy Roosevelt died?
Hmm. I think early morning, sort of chill sitting in the common room of the hotel, inn, B&B, whatever, lodgings that that he’s staying in. So you know, having coffee, kind of having that weird feeling that you have when you’re on vacation that’s like, my body thinks I should be doing something at this hour. But I don’t have anything to do. And I don’t want anything to do. But I still feel like I should be doing something. Plus having some really unsettling dreams of, you know, a mixture of snippets of information and weird people and also weird events, and I don’t know. It just… very unsettling. So sitting off in a corner, having coffee, and breakfast, and snaps open the newspaper, or picks up the newspaper and, and goes to read it and sees the headline, and is like, “Huh. It… huh. This is… Well, damn.” Puts the newspaper down, and tucks in to breakfast. Because they’re gonna have, he’s gonna have shit to do once it’s done.
All right. And a little while later… It’s a short walk for some of you. I don’t know where Sam’s lodgings are. But you all, presumably, meet up in the graveyard. There’s no weird person from the future standing here this time. There’s just the three of you. And you’re able to see down from the graveyard down over the whole neighborhood completely intact, but with that enormous, huge tank just dominating the whole landscape. And I think that’s a good time to have a quick chat.
I would like to talk to you about something that I think was unexpectedly part of this campaign. One of the, one of the principles that we’re operating under for Rosette Diceless is improvisation. And I hope I haven’t sprung something on you too much by including time travel in this story.
So time travel… I should say that. That another source for this that I didn’t mention at first is a book by James Gleick, Time Travel: A History, which is an excellent book about sort of the history of the concept of time travel and how we first started thinking about it and how we thought about time in history beforehand. And HG Wells writing The Time Machine is essentially the first instance of modern time travel in fiction and how it’s evolved since then. And time travel’s weird. It can be a plot contrivance that doesn’t work. It can be a cop out, or it can be something that drives concepts of coulda, woulda, shoulda and “what if things were different” and visiting other times. So what are your… What are your thoughts about time travel and… especially if they relate to this era?
Time travel is, I think like 100… okay, 99%, linked to to Star Trek for me. Like when I think “time travel plot”, I think I run through the Rolodex of largely questionable time traveling — and holodeck episodes that are also effectively time travel episodes. And I think Star Trek is bad at them. By and large, like, with rare exceptions, I guess they got better. DS9 probably had better ones. But just like they’re so they’re so flippant. They’re so you know, romanticizing or like, “What about paradoxes?!” I’m like, I feel like this is shouldn’t probably be your biggest concern, actually, like… I don’t know, there’s a whole lot going on. And so when I am in a plot about time travel, or alternate universes, I think this applies there, too. It’s tough for me to not like fall into a Star-Trek-ian mode of thinking of like, “What can’t I do? What am I… What kind of paradoxes are there in this setup?” And it’s like, “Why is that the, like…?” It’s just a…
Well, I did my best to set up a scenario in which you don’t have to worry about paradoxes?
The paradoxes have all already happened, you’re good now.
Yes. But I think it’s fun, I think it adds it, it adds another layer on to what we were talking about before, where we are playing in a historical space, and then we’re going to time travel to that historical space. So it’s not only how do we as players handle the first layer of that. It’s how do we as players and the characters we have do this as well? And to what degree do you try to fix things? Because like, you know, if you drop me and… Pick a year where something bad happens very shortly afterwards, which is many of them. That I know about, and I think I might be able to change. Like, there’s a certain moral imperative, right? That that one might consider themselves having. Anyway. Long story short, I think it’s fun, but I think it’s difficult to keep it weighty without it being, like, weirdly dramatic. Like calling in the Nazis or mass murder, like, you know what I mean? Like, “Here’s history, this is what time travel is like!” or, you know, Captain Janeway romping around with her Jane Austen novel reenactments, you know, so.
I first was introduced to time travel, actually, through the story The Time Machine. I…
I expected you were gonna say Doctor Who! I had all my money on Doctor Who.
Well, I’m gonna mention Doctor Who, but…
I, I first, as a kid, got interested in time travel — and I’ve been kind of a fan of it ever since — was when I… I think the… What I what happened first was I heard an audio drama adaptation of it. And then I think I al… I’m pretty sure I also read it. And I was fascinated by the whole thing. And I really liked time travel stories from that point on.
I got into Doctor Who, later than that, for me. I mean, I knew what it was from, like the age of four, as a TV show, and then I I.. But I got into it, I think more when I was, like eight years old, I think? There abouts? And so I started with classic, classic Doctor Who, because as I, as I stated previously, I’ve been around for a while. And as I was a very big fan, Doctor Who has been inextricably intertwined with my, my personal history, and I always had been a fan of the original series, and now also the new series. And I think from that sort of basis, I feel as though… By and large, the best time travel stories, or the ones that end up best anyway, are the ones that are not about time travel.
I think you can do a really good story about time travel, but I think it’s easier when the time travel is more of a setting element or a vehicle for the story. It’s how you get there. But it’s not necessarily what the story itself is about. The story itself is more about things that the characters are going through, either on a personal level, or there’s just something where, you know, they they find themselves… In Doctor Who it’s… a lot of the best Doctor Who stories, they just find themselves in broiled in what is going on there, there and then. They become part of events and then they don’t, for most of them, consider time travel as a way out of it.
In the in the newer series, they’ve done a lot more stories about time travel, and that’s fine. But it is a finer needle, to, to thread when you are actually trying to bring the “how” of it into it to the point that it’s kind of a central thing. I think in tabletop RPGs, time travel… there are… time travel is something that can be done, again, either well or poorly. There are there are entire games devoted to time travel. There, obviously you have a few different Doctor Who role playing games, but you also have… There’s a Gumshoe game that’s mostly I think, largely played for laughs. You have like characters that can actually be dinosaurs, that kind of thing. But then you have games, like, there’s a Cipher System game that I think is called Predation, where your time travel is, is part of it, the sort of the butterfly effect is a little bit part of it. And actually, in some ways based on the the the Bradbury story that goes into that, because you’re there amongst the dinosaurs, essentially. And sometimes things can happen, that might change things a little bit if you go too far afield.
So the the actual physics of time travel, the how and the why of it, that are interesting thing… can be interesting things to explore. But also easier to get into territory where either it can… there can be too much of it, or it clouds other story elements, that kind of thing. As a thing that’s being introduced in a story like this… I kind of had tweaked to the fact there was going to be time travel when we saw weird people walking around.
So it doesn’t really bother me as a as an element for this necessarily. I think it’s interesting. And you can tell a good, you can tell a good story about trying to prevent something or change something if you are keeping it to a very specific set of parameters, which for this game we are. So I’m interested and excited to see where things go.
So… oh, gosh, I have a lot of thoughts in my head now about time travel. Um, I guess the first thing I would point out, I think this is mandatory for me to point out because I’m an English professor. And that is that, like, the, like, the narrative conventions of time travel are things that literature like is always doing, right? Like…
I mean, flashback and chronology and all that kind of thing. So when you think about narrative work, I mean, time travel relates to some of that in in ways that are interesting, like from a narrative perspective. I had read everything that Isaac Asimov wrote, by the time I was like 12, or 13. So I’m pretty sure I first encountered time travel from reading some Asimov. He has one whole novel about being stuck in a time loop or a causality loop or something like that. Have you all read that?
Maybe? I’ve read a decent amount of Asimov time travel, so I’m not sure.
Yeah, I mean, and he’s more concerned… He’s like a Science fiction writer. So um, you know, because of Asimov, I followed up and read a lot of the science and learned about black holes, for example, and that kind of thing in the relationship to time travel. I think it’s, it’s pretty interesting, also, but I’m… I guess I’m curious to know what this story is going to be making of time travel from kind of multiple perspectives. Because there’s the one, the narrative perspective, where it’s interesting, and then there’s also the sort of thematic or conceptual direction from which it’s interesting. It seems to me… Have you… Gregory, have you read Octavia Butler’s Kindred?
I don’t think so. No.
Or Jim or Lissa. Have y’all read that? Okay, well, everybody should run out real quick and read Kindred because it’s really good. But it’s also pretty heavy because it’s about on a modern day woman. She’s a black woman who’s married to a white man. And she time travels into the past when slavery is still happening in the United States. And she’s tossed into the past sort of suddenly and without control over that situation, and has interactions with someone there in the past that are like, meaningful, I guess, to her. Um, and that book, in addition to being science fiction is grappling with issues of race and gender and really heavy shit. Um, Octavia Butler, you know, is a genius. So I’m curious to see the ways in which like, maybe we are going to be grappling with some material like that, too.
I, I hope I don’t let y’all down. On the topic of of recommendations, two games that involve time travel related things: I would say check out Zoetrope from Cosmic Mirror games, it’s a card based tabletop role playing game that is very much about the specific mechanics of time travel and the different ways in which you can do paradoxes and, and like… Just about every move you make in that game is traveling through time. So it’s the exact opposite of the thing that everyone’s saying they like. But it’s, it’s a whole lot of fun. And then, I will, on the thematic side, recommend Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, which I don’t this is, I guess, spoilery. But the I will actually share the spoiler, but one of the central conceits of the game involves someone receiving a vision of World War One. And one of the one of the central like character questions is, “What do you do when you know something terrible is going to happen?” And those are two great works. Unless anyone has further burning thoughts on time travel, I think we can return to 1919.
I will add that I looked it up and the novel I’m thinking of by Isaac Asimov is called The End of Eternity.
It’s a good name.
Good title. We will return to Copp’s Hill Burial Ground.
Should we leave our sheets filled out this way? Or take off stress boxes?
I think I’m gonna say take off stress boxes. Maybe take resources back? That you started with and were sacrificed? That seems reasonable. That stuff happened in the future.
Yeah, I was gonna ask about that, if my ability had reset or not.
Yeah, I think I’ll say you can just put your sheets back to where they were at the start of the of the campaign. So you don’t you don’t keep anything you gain. But you don’t… You didn’t… never lost anything either. Everything’s… all your stress is gone. All your afflictions are gone.
We have focus again.
Speak for yourself.
I meant on our character sheets.
So who arrives at the graveyard first?
It is impossible for it to be me. I can’t be fast. I’m slow.
I was reading the newspaper earlier in the morning. So it might…
Yeah, makes sense.
Okay, so Sam gets there first. You can see that… You remember eating your food under that tree. And is… does that mean Lorenzo’s next?
And it’s just a short walk for you. Like, you can just…
If I look to where that person had been before, is there anything suspicious over there?
That spot’s empty. And then Lorenzo, you can just walk up from the firehouse. It’s a real short stroll.
And then probably last to arrive, but… would… There probably wouldn’t be too long of a wait, would be Harmony. Is there much chatter? What do you all say to each other?
Hey, Lorenzo. Do you… have a weird morning, too?
Yeah. It was a kinda weird morning. I got up, was very happy to see everybody. Hugged Paddy, he got confused. And we went out to get a paper.
Paddy was your your friend, right? Buddy of yours?
Yeah, yeah, he’s so yeah, he’s he’s over at… Yeah, he’s, he’s fine. He’s good. He’s…
He wasn’t. In the other…
But we, uh… I went and saw I looked at the wave, you know, we were forget the stand the newsstand and i saw that roosevelt has died which
i’m not you know i mean it’s real right i’m not imagining it we we had the
so for you too then this roosevelt’s this is the second time you’ve read news about roosevelt dying
yeah and this in the yeah and scores and everything but the whole the whole newspaper
wasn’t wasn’t a dream
i mean deja vu but i mean i never had deja vu with someone else
harmonyos stride up right then open our arms out wide for a hug with sam oh you’re alive
slightly awkward hug while also looking around a little chill out chill out harmony we don’t need any trouble here you what brings you to this hill
i think we’re in enough trouble as it is and i know you both know what’s brought us to this hill we have cut up men to investigate and find and stop
okay so youtube then yes of course but not everybody if your friend patti was confused lorenzo
well no not about yeah he he didn’t we were yeah we were on the
no it’s just us three you are the chosen ones
yeah it’s still just three no patty was was with me before we were on the roof over there
at the end yeah i didn’t i couldn’t get him out well we’ll get him out sam
will do better this time right yeah won’t even won’t even happen like that and patty will be fine
i mean i was thinking about it on the way over here honestly we should have asked a few more questions like we could make it worse right
like oh presumably
we might not make it better we could make it actually worse sure
but i mean if we
know that it went great for us in the first place but
yeah but if we handle these these men then they can’t do that a little project yeah so no project no flood no project no
i think we got a mantra
oh is it fuck roosevelt because that one’s a good one too
i don’t involve myself with those sorts of politics
no project no flood he says just looking at everyone deadly seriously
no project no flood no project no
so i think we should discuss this upcoming conflict so this investigation is going to be a medium scale conflict and one of the interesting things about Rosette Diceless is i think is that i as the narrator offeree of this of this scene offer you potential goals that i think would be interesting to accomplish and i’m going to say that a goal that is not on the table is stopping the flood you might stop the flood that might be part of this conflict but i am not offering that as the end goal of it some things that you that could be goals are stopping the commitments plan they could be finding out what causes the flood caused will cause the flood what would what would be some other options oh you all convincing people to convincing important people to not be there when the flood happens could be one i think
stopping the cut up mean is aligned with our mantra it even if it doesn’t result in no flood it could result in no projects
at least get the first half yeah that’s my leaning as well i feel like evacuation would first would also be a good one but is is presuming we will fail in my opinion like yeah i think first first attempt is to keep it from happening and if that fails then we fall back on something more drastic
yeah that makes sense
i’m seeing this This conflict spanning at least a week, I’m saying this being a long term thing that y’all are doing. Yeah. So if the goal is to stop the cut up man’s plan, what? What sort of consequences are y’all interested in? As things that will happen if you don’t succeed?
I don’t, I think I’ll say that tiny, there’s probably not gonna be any further tiny, whiny stuff. Other than that communication, that
was my idea was getting sent back to the other timeline. So, which is tiny? Why me?
That isn’t how I was imagining this time travel working. But if you’re totally into that we can we can reckon.
I mean, it’d be. I mean, it’d be as real blow to end up back in the wreckage. That might be a bit much I feel that’s gonna be a
little too grim for me this time.
Yeah, that’s, that’s really bad.
Unknown Speaker 51:04
This certainly could end grim
I don’t mind a grim ending. But
yeah, that would
be the same grim ending, if we can have some variation. That would be nice. Like to space out my grim.
Unknown Speaker 51:19
So these are totally for you, I think for y’all to offer as the as the players in the conflict, but something that hasn’t been mentioned is depending on how you’re going about this police could get involved. So getting arrested or something like that could certainly be
a there’s the possibility of doing something that makes things worse. There’s the possibility of the cut up men doing something that makes things better for them, they have a higher rate of success at at turning the whole thing into an art project. Getting caught by them or something along those lines. They do something to keep us out of the the reckoning. Yeah, I
mean, having a shameful legacy. Whatever that means to y’all could certainly be a be kind of a form of cut up men revenge. Yeah.
That’s an interesting one.
Yeah. When I remember, we were discussing consequences on the first conflict. You were like, maybe don’t take something that’s gonna, like drag around behind you like an anchor. And, obviously, now I know why, but this one could have something like shameful legacy.
History does not remember us. Well.
Like, I like that one.
These three mothers remembers you,
but not well,
yes. Yes. Okay. Yes.
That one’s really interesting. Actually, the more I think about it,
Can you even imagine how badly you’d have to fuck up to wind up? It’s a footnote to 24
Unknown Speaker 53:12
Yeah, sounds like the goal is to stop the cup men’s plan with and avoid the consequence. be remembered by history. Not be remembered by history, but badly. Yep. And all the other stuff discussed could happen or not as a part of this conflict.
Sounds good. Yeah.
And you said you’re not offering the the flood will be prevented as part of it doesn’t have anything to do with the success of the conflict or not?
You could stop it. I will say it will be tricky, but you could stop it entirely.
I guess that’s my question. Do Is it like in our control? as players?
Yes. I have in my head a few different ways I could go and y’all could come up with something. But I will say that it is trickier than you might think. There is there’s it’s kind of there’s a domino situation going on. Where past a certain point I’m, I I’m having trouble thinking of a thing you could do. But it’s Rosette Diceless. You could do exception unless his
uncanny insights and yeah,
there’s definitely room for like differing degrees of
Unknown Speaker 54:46
Right. Like, quote, right even close to the wire. Even if even if you know this is going to happen. evacuation could still be on the table.
Unknown Speaker 54:54
Yep. tries they may bear all this fight against the dark and title mount houses would dumbo do drag to chrome ah the mute boy next time
on tabletop garden the great molasses flood
by the way about the tank is
it just me or is it been leaking i don’t have ties to more than a couple of anarchists
and i toss it on to his desk and i say how do you explain this the storm
is within and very soon will leap and crash and annihilate you in blood and fire we will dynamite you Rosette Diceless was created by Future Proof Games and can be found at roset rpg.com our theme song is great molasses disaster by robin wagner and parlor game available under a creative commons attribution noncommercial sharealike 3.0 license you can find more on tabletop garden at tabletop dot garden and you can support my work and get episodes firstname.lastname@example.org slash gregory avery we’re
Transcribed by https://otter.ai