#RPGaDay2020 – Day 17: Investigate

As my chosen method for responding to #RPGaDay2020 has been to couch all the responses as part of a session of Ghostbusters, you could say the prompt that we have reached today in our 17th post (while we are in Area 20) has had an influence on the whole endeavor. As you can see on the main infographic below, the 17th prompt numerically is comfort, following two nuanced prompts for the weekend. I am looking forward to reaching them when my detour goes that way. We are not following the numerical order as you may have gleaned from past visits to this blog, we are instead following a sequence of prompts indicated by the map infographic that appears at the end of this post. In a sense, we are investigating an alternate means of going through the prompts step-by-step and with a discernable logic, yet with that refreshing hint of discovery as sometimes we take a route less-travelled. Each day a post is written for this blog, on the day. It is followed up by a commentary video recorded later on that same day. In this way, we are trying to show some elements of play from both the side of playing characters and the side of playing the world.

Long time, no show~

Yesterday’s post saw the ghostbusters preparing to push on with their effort to stop a spectral infestation of gargantuan proportions. The next step? To crawl into a filthy maze of ventilation ducts. Not all investigations are glamorous it seems.

“This reminds me of that story Ray Stantz tells at those franchisee dinners about Venkman being so out of shape and exhausted that when they reached the 22nd floor of 55 Central Park West, you know, the building with the Shandor Shrine, he threw up,” Dunhill’s contributes conversationally in the direction of Gray Stent’s rump as they prowl through thick gray spores, moulds, and fungus in the maze of ducts.

“Do you think this where that vomit went?” Lemmon responds conversationally to Dunhill’s rump. He was trying to not to show how ticked off he was to have ended up last.

“Which one was the Shandor Shrine? I haven’t lived in New York like you guys,” Gray inquires, trying to crane his neck back over his shoulder.

“You know, the Stay Puft place, by the park….?” Dunhill responds.

Gray nods noncommittally, then says to the butt ahead of him in the vent, “You seem awfully quiet, Diego.”

“I was thinking about ‘The Tenant.’ It suddenly seemed relevant to my situation.”

Lemmon’s player quickly busts out the only line of dialogue he knows from that film, thanks to a song called The Choke and his having had the the luck and wisdom to be an aficionado of Skinny Puppy.

“Exactly,” says Diego.

“It really is a bad idea to go this way, you know,” I say conspiratorially as Diego. “There is nothing this way except for the tower and you wouldn’t want to go there.

“I don’t know…” Lemmon tries to sound thoughtful, “I have heard a lot of good things about that tower…”

I see him scanning his supply of Brownie Points, and his eyes flicking to his Cool Trait and its Charm Talent, investigating his options.

“Sorry,” I interrupt, “you have clearly started in on trying to trick him, not charm him so, no – Charm will not apply here and you will have to content yourself with only 6 dice versus his 2 dice in a contested roll. Think you can handle it?”

We all see his eyes flick to the Ghost Die.

“Well… I am not sure. I have been hurt before, you know.”

We all laugh, he laughs, the dice roll, and the Ghost Die goes off the edge of the table to clatter on the floor. Lemmon’s player shoots back in his chair to see which face is up and we look at him like he just sprouted a second head and asked us to call him Zaphod.

“What are you doing?” we all ask in different ways, but with the same intent.

“I am seeing what it rolled. You have to play them where they lie.”

“Is this golf?” asks Diego’s player.

I put it to you, Dear Reader, in the comments below, let me know about your culture of play. Do you roll or keep dice that fall to the floor?

-Inquiring Minds

Even without that die he has beaten the entity possessing Diego, so we know he was successful, the important detail now was ghost or no ghost. In an alternate universe where he did not re-roll the dropped die, he might have rolled a ghost, but we do not live there.

Mock unwillingly as the entity, I use Diego’s mannerisms to spill a juicy detail about the tower and then slowly realize that I have been tricked.

“The tower is good! It is the best place to see him rise, rise to choke the life from the wor…” I mock cough, “I mean… forget about the tower, it is…. closed. Wet Paint.”

With painstaking slowness, the group travels the ducts. They soon discover that the ducts are over empty lab spaces, some large and some small. Some are closed and dark with materials neatly put away. Some are shut down and draped with dust cloths, some are empty rooms. Some, however, are scenes of carnage.

Gray loses the vicious rock, scissors, paper battle and is forced to investigate these bloody rooms. What he notes after a very nice Brains roll is that the bodies at these drab painted murder sites, redecorated now with dried blood, have been taken away. There is a lone set of footprints, and another confusing set of markings on the floor he at first takes to be some form of occult writing, but upon remembering Dunhill’s tale of abduction, realizes are the tracks of Linda, the shift supervisor that had been transformed into a giant mantis creature. Looking at the size of the tracks he congratulates Dunhill on surviving.

“I really thought it was going to bite me head off, Man.”

The Air Ducts are Area 20!

Room by room they gather tiny clues and huge stains on hands and knees. The stains aren’t much help, though there is such sneezing the whole duct system shakes, but the clues paint a story of how this whole plant plot came together.

Nigel Hannibal Peck, PhD. seems to have accidentally made a discovery that united the efforts of two of the government funded departments assigned space in this facility. His initial discovery was of a form of high-energy plasma modulation, loosely based on the work of Egon Spengler and graduate work on Spengler’s ideas by Diego Spencer and Gray Stent. At first, it looked promising for weapons and energy development, but he discovered the by-product light from his process had more dramatic effects on plants.

When the plants rapidly grew to great size, this was a time of celebration in the labs and the Agriculture Department began to bond pretty closely with the Physics Department.

“Kinky,” notes Dieter Lemmon with a trace of jealousy.

Then the plants escaped, and some became self aware and displayed carnivorous tendencies, so the whole project had to be moved over to more secure facilities (Areas 6-9) under the supervision of a blended department from agriculture, physics, and weapons research teams. When Linda Prim, shift supervisor of this new team stops collecting reports, reporting peters to a stop.

Also petering out are the ducts, and the ghostbusters realize that they are at the base of the tower. The specter of having not rolled any ghosts during their tossing of the labs has them all a bit worried about bad luck heading their way. They are in a good mood, though. The investigation was not just a blanket Brains roll, or a series of them. We did use Brains, of course, particularly at the end to collate the little clues that did not stand out and were not seem relevant (nor did I mention them) during the evidence collection. We also used Muscle and Moves and a few choice Cool rolls on the entity in Diego to fill in blanks.

“Really guys,” I say as Diego. “Don’t go up there, you could die and worse I could get in trouble and I wouldn’t be the one who gets to each you and after all this crawling in dry dust I just don’t think that is fair!”

“Don’t listen to him,” says Diego expecting and receiving the same laughter as before.

“So….” Lemmon says dramatically, “stairs…”

“Where do they go?” asks Gray.

You know the answer, don’t you Dear Readers?

“They go up!” we all say in unison because it doesn’t get much better than that.

Questions: What are some of the biggest stumbling blocks to how you run investigations? What might be alternate ways of obtaining, organizing, and presenting information for clarity that still have some thrill? How do your investigations differ from your combats?

Link: A video companion to this video will be posted later today and added to this entry. I do this because Egon claimed that print was dead. I do these blogs because Janine loves to read. I do not, however, play racquetball. There are limits.

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