#RPGaDay2020 – Day 7: Strange

Our deviation from the numerical order of the list of prompts continues as we follow Dunhill’s progress through the rooms on the map (from Area 25 to Area 26). By progress we mean running for his life with a giant mantis creature hot on his heels. As a result, our prompt for today is ‘strange’ not ‘couple’.

We will get there, don’t worry~

To the delicious horror of the other players, Dunhill’s player scoops up his dice and regards his stack of Brownie Points thoughtfully while asking if his Dodge talent for his Moves trait would apply here. Those three extra dice will really make a difference to his chance for success. I shrug noncommittally and invite him to describe his desperate roll from his crumpled heap on the floor, under the mantis, to the bank of levers. I also lay it out clearly: this will be a contested roll. This means he has to beat my roll for the mantis to grab him in order for Dunhill to dodge under it.

Rules aside: I want to keep the pace moving and I do not want to rolls to feel like they are for minutia and split second freeze-frames of time. This means that interpreting outcomes is for longer moments of time and possibly sequences of actions with a shared goal, rather than one roll per discreet action.

Ghostbusters Operations Manual, p.25

So: to dodge the mantis, Dunhill’s player needs to beat its roll, but to also pull his choice of lever I rule that he has to beat a Difficulty of Hard. That gives us an interesting range of possible outcomes, such as he might dodge under it but not get the lever, or he might get grabbed but pull the lever anyway~

There is only one of these that I have trouble with, but regardless,
today’s ROAR moment is brought to you by guideline #4

Dunhill describes being flat on his back, uncomfortably splayed out because of his proton pack, looking up in horror at the claws and mandibles of Shift Supervisor Linda, the mantis. Curling himself up into a ball with a powerful contraction of muscles and no small amount of adrenalin, he hurls himself to the side, to shoot under the mantis and pop up facing the levers on the other side, hands extended to pull the… (I remind him there are three levers and tell him it was the lever on the right that has already been pulled) …middle lever.

I nod, and tell him to use Dodge – he’s earned it. The player grins and the others let their held breath out as he adds three more dice. Waiting for that moment, I scoop up my mammoth bucket of dice for the mantis and smile ambiguously.

“Good luck…”

Dice clatter in a spray of one of the least rollable die types of all time and then eyes starting flicking from die to die to add and then… compare. Then, eyes flick to me because, while he did not beat the mantis, he did beat the difficulty, and utterly improbably – though not impossibly – he also rolled a ghost… and so did I.

“It is said that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, but sadly Dunhill, neither you nor the mantis are either. This ghost is good for the mantis, but not at all good for you – but we will get to that in a moment.”

Everyone, kindly, groans.

“The forgetful mad scientist, for what else could he be, stumbles back to get out of the way, Dunhill comes up smoothly on the other side of Linda the mantis reaching for the middle lever. Her torso twists (our BattleTech heritage seeps into everything) and she grabs the ghostbuster around the waist, lifting him clear of the floor. The lever descends with a solid click and all of the lights go out.

“Darkness Imprisoning me! All that I see! Absolute horror!” Lemmon’s player bursts out in his best Hetfield growl, but he ends the impromptu serenade there as he sees me lean in closer to complete the description.

Linda the mantis pulls you close to her hard chest, and in the darkness you can feel her cheek pressed against yours.

Something has changed.

“Linda!” screams the mad scientist in the absolute horror of the absolute darkness. “The lever!”

Compelled to obey, Linda releases Dunhill reluctantly, her claws lingering on him for a moment as her mandibles brush his cheek for a split second, then he finds himself free as she shuffles forward to move the lever and restore the power.

Dunhill wastes no time and describes bolting past Linda, dodging around the professor, and running back toward the collapsed stairwell (Area 26).

Our Dear Readers might wonder how that is possible with the whole complex plunged into darkness, but Dunhill, like any well-prepared ghostbuster, has his Ecto-Visor, and with a flick of a wrist has them over his eyes and is off to the races.

As Dunhill rounds the corner and leaps nimbly over some scattered bits of rubble from the destruction of the stairwell I inform him that his Ecto-Visor reveals strange, purple, vapor-like traces of passage leading away from this ruined stairwell and his pursuers. The hallway he is in has clearly seen some otherworldly traffic recently.

Diego’s player makes a note on his ever-present pad, but Dunhill’s player shakes his head and looks at me.

“Did that thing kiss me?”

“There are stranger things in this world…”

“No Shakespeare, I had my fill in school. What was my ghost?”

“There’s always room for Shakespeare. Would it be the strangest thing in the world, do you think, for Linda, overworked and underpaid shift supervisor responsible for nuts like that mad scientist, to fall for a dashing do-gooder of a ghostbuster like yourself – especially after that display of bravery, intelligence, and physical prowess?”

“That fast?”

“Well… insects have shorter life spans than we do – they cannot afford to waste time.”

“Does that mean she is on my side?”

“Love in the insect world is strange. After she has her way with you, I expect her to eat you alive, head first.”

“I keep running, following the strange purple ghost-prints, and I power up my proton pack for some prime bug zappin’ action if she catches me!”

“Ah…” I say, tapping my ghost result. “But… she is a victim… you could save her…”

Questions: This scene starts out with simple action, but twists strangely to include a complication. What is the purpose of that, and how does it reflect the situations in the films?

What is ROAR?

Video Link: Later today I will add a video from the YouTube channel pointing at some aspects of this strange scene and how they play into the developing concepts for play we have been exploring – principally Momentum and Contagion.

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