#RPGaDay2020 – Day 11: Light

Back out of sync because of the liberating power of freedom of movement the map infographic so easily reveals, our ghostbusters are plowing headlong into the last week of prompts for most respondents, but in reverse order. For most people, today’s prompt will be stack (which will be fun to riff on when we get there), but for us it is light. Light is another one I have been looking forward to because of the differing meanings it carries.

In Ghostbusters, each characters is entitled to carry three items. Cards were thoughtfully provided to make this easy to manage. For example, we have the famous and useful PKE Meter, a device only made possible by Egon Spengler’s groundbreaking work on understanding psychokinetic energy in collaboration with Raymond Stantz.

We could use this as a segue into a scene involving encumbrance. We could use it as a means to explore the notion of simple rules in a clear and explained framework for application and adaptation. We could talk about the visual spectrum. However, due to all the slime in the past few days’ posts, let’s go with mood. If we get lucky, maybe the ghostbusters can find a away to through a containment field around all of those ideas for storage in a custom-made facility – hopefully a Peck-proof one.

Leaving the breakroom behind, the ghostbusters struggled down several flights of steep stairs. I describe the wan illumination of bland industrial beige paint chosen for the stairwell and the cracked and well-worn plastic runners on most, but not all of the steps. This was a popular corridor at one point.

Like most of the complex, the air is warm and somewhat dry, but there is a light floral scent wafting randomly as they reach the bottom of the stairs. I share some of the faint and mild graffiti that mars the beige blandness of the walls near the top and bottom of the flights of stairs. Things like:

  • If I didn’t work here you losers would still question the existence of God
  • For a good time, call JJ Walker
  • His name was Robert Paulson
  • P-Day is nigh!

Of course, as soon as the P-Day notation was mentioned, the players latched on to it and started riffing about nefarious plots and plans of the plant people and seeing who could be more eloquently alliterative and that was fun, so I gave that room to grow before inserting the description of the room at the end of the hall (Area 9) for them to negotiate. In short, it was some sort of rounded growing room with a persistent mid-range hum of a large number of high-powered purple lights, with a mild strobe effect.

On the walls were a variety of older motivational posters on very simple themes like ‘Grow like you mean it!” and “Reach for the Sky!” all with overly wholesome and cute 50s style art.

See the source image
Grow Tomorrow’s Growth Today!

In a star-burst pattern that forces them to walk around the walls rather than directly across the room, plain chrome racks taller than even Diego’s impressive height are filled with pots containing gently waving tendrils of tiny versions of the huge animated vines which entomb the complex. Each planter has a small automated feeder dripping pure purple ectoplasm into the mix of hamburger and soil in which the plants writhe and grow.

That gets a suitably enjoyable reaction from the players, then they spring into action!

While Diego takes measurements of the light, Grey and Dieter root through the stacks of notes at the end of each spar of the star arrangement of shelves. Diego rolls a ridiculous result on Brains, as expected – far above the Difficulty and so I show my enthusiasm and let him know that he has identified the specific wavelengths and intensities of the flickering lights and that this might indicate a vulnerability in the plantlike ectoplasm-infused vines. The other two do not eclipse the difficulty with their searches, but much to our collective surprise there are no failures and no ghosts.

“The battery in this trick ghost die must have died,” Lemmon’s player quips.

I fill them in on the months of reports covering adjustments to the care and feeding of batches of tendrils until the aforementioned ‘eureka’ moment which they presume led to the faked shut down of the plant. A fact that I pass off as a mere detail, but they note and make a big deal of is the gradual increase in the amount of meat needed as fertilizer in the soil and the greater freshness required to get the desired amount of animation from the vines.

As they repeat that particular fact, they suddenly realize some of the disappearances might in fact be from earlier abductions of workers only noticed later once the number grew too big to ignore by the residents of the community. The source of the hamburger in which the plants are growing must have begun to run out, and so the villains, and Lemmon smiles as he prepares to say this, ‘must have branched out into the surrounding streets.’

He enjoys the groans he gets, and takes the tossed burger wrapper as praise.

The scene, as painted, is horrific, and they now understand some of what is awaiting them in the hidden sections of the complex. They have greater reason to fear for Dunhill’s life, also.

However, the buoyant tone we encouraged in each other earlier, the reflection of player mood and activity into character behavior, and the modelling of the antics and dialog of the movies have all created a specific momentum into a sort of desperate comedic reaction that retains the anxiety while reinforcing the camaraderie. The mood, in other words, is light.

Ahead of them is a door with a simple lock and a single sign. The sign indicates that the area beyond has wet floors and low-lighting. Entrants are advised to walk with caution because a safe workplace is a happy workplace.

“It’s no fun dominating the world while wearing a cast on your leg and nursing a busted tailbone,” says Stent’s player mock-seriously.

Questions: What is being done to keep the tone light, but not trivializing the horrors the group is facing?

Link: Later today, as everyday, a video will be placed below which talks more about this mood management.

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