#RPGaDay2020 – Day 2: Change

Following the intense whir of Diego Spencer’s PKE meter, keeping a wary eye out in case the spindly arms on its sides sit up and take notice, the ghostbusters find themselves drifting into a loose and single-file line as they slowly cross asphalt toward the complex. One by one they step cautiously onto the crumbling cement of the broad side walk separating the ruined parking lot from the cracked and vine-draped awning that would look green under the cloudy night sky if it were not so thickly hung with creepers. Their heads pivot nervously, looking into the deep shadows which seem to seethe hungrily as a faint hissing sound as of escaping steam registers dimly on their straining senses.

“Boy, they’ve really let this place go to the dogs! The landlord is going to be pissed!” snaps Lemmon to break the tension, but just gets a weak laugh from Stent.

I lean in and remind them, like a thought occurring to all of them simultaneously, of the thing in New York a few years before, with the franchise owners. I make eye contact with Diego’s player and mention that the PKE readings he is getting now are around those reported by Dr. Egon Spengler as the baseline for the rooftop at Spook Central before the fit hit the shan.

“For your information, Lemmon, the psychokinetic energy I am reading is sufficient to transform us all into dogs if we are not careful. While that might be an improvement for you, I need my thumbs for more than a pacifier.”

Diego’s player is getting it. He is digging his barbs into the other characters in-character and though he is being funny, he is also helping to reinforce the building unease.

“I don’t suppose we could wait until morning before going inside…? Dunhill suggests with false hope.

By this point everyone knows that the glass door ahead of them signifies a real and important change in play. Inside those doors, the game will shift to a higher gear, looking to grind bones into bread. If they go in, the level of risk increases. If they do not go in, the situation stays easily survivable, but will rain consequences down later (such as getting fired, or bank foreclosure on their heavily mortgaged property) in an IC sense, but also in an OoC sense. They will be playing something different than we intended.

The ghostbusters are afraid, sure, but they won’t admit it and they would rather cross the streams rather than let some ghost freak out someone with a positron collider!

Once inside the heavy glass doors, still visibly marked with the acronym V.I.G.O in faded gold lettering, things get uncomfortable quickly. While outside it was cool and with a salty breeze, inside there is a pulsing heat. The tile floors are slick with damp mud and cast-off leaves, both of which give off an odor of compost and rainy autumns… and blood.

No one had wanted to come in. Now, inside, everyone wants to leave.

No human being would build a lobby this way….

I hit them quickly with the details of how faint their flashlights are and how the thin beams make the dirty floors look like blood trails not mud trails. Under the wholesome smells of earth and leaf litter there is the dank and gassy hint of decay. I also tell them that the space inside the doors is curved not unlike a sink drainpipe… or the relaxed throat of some vast and long-necked creature. I finish up with an incongruous detail, a Coke machine, its lights flickering but still getting electricity, squats left side of the next room, visible through the next set of gold-lettered glass doors that mark the end of this peculiar lobby and the change to the actual interior working spaces of V.I.G.O.

“Lemmon, you got a quarter? Those things only take exact change!” pipes up Stent.

“You want a Coke now?” Dunhill asks incredulously.

“Always Coca-Cola!” chime Lemmon and Stent together. “It’s the pause that refreshes!”

The whole table laughs and I hit them with the surprise: all the lights, including their flashlights, die.

Questions: How do we help the players connect with the emotions of the characters as we settle into a session of what is hoped to be edge of the seat frightful fun?

How many instances of the idea of change did you spot?

Video Link: Later today I will post a counterpart video to this entry to expand on the idea posed in the question, and the ongoing techniques of Momentum and Contagion raised for Day 1.

How can we be more responsive to the momentum and contagion of play?

Next Prompt: Thread

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